Seattle police disperse protesters in the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, CHOP.
The action came after Mayor Jenny Durkan issued an emergency executive order labeling CHOP as an unlawful assembly.
The Seattle Police Department tweeted:
“Due to ongoing violence and public safety issues in the East Precinct/Cal Anderson Park area, Mayor Jenny Durkan has issued an executive order to vacate the area. Seattle police will be in the area…enforcing the Mayor’s order.”
Police also tweeted that anyone who remains in the area or returns to it will be subject to arrest.
And heavily armed cops swept into Seattle’s police-free “autonomous zone” the following day. They arrested dozens of people.
The Officers Tore Down Tents, Dispersing Hundreds of Protesters
By late morning, they had arrested more than 30 people for failing to leave the area. However, most protesters appeared to comply with dispersal orders.
The police force afterward worked on cleaning up the area and the damage. Protestors had filled the cop-free zone — spanning several blocks — with tents, couches and concrete barriers.
Police Chief Carmen Best said:
“Residents were coming out of the homes, ‘thanking the officers profusely for helping clean out the area.”
“So we don’t even know how much trauma people were experiencing because of what was happening in that area.”
This unprecedented protest zone was mostly peaceful during the day. But after a few weeks of occupation, reports of violence began to grow.
“As I have said, and I will say again, I support peaceful demonstrations. Black Lives Matter. And I, too, want to help propel this movement toward meaningful change in our community. But enough is enough.”
“The CHOP [had] become lawless and brutal.”
Besides the two murder victims, one of whom was a 16-year-old boy, police had also investigated multiple reports of aggravated assault within the area.
Durkan’s emergency order required all persons who were ‘unlawfully occupying’ the neighborhood to leave ‘immediately.’
She also directed the city’s government agencies to make ‘reasonable efforts’ in assisting those who need any kind assistance.
The delay in clearing the protest zone had angered local business owners, who sued the city for failing to act.
The protest area was identified by several names. Protesters previously called it the ‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone’ (CHAZ). Then activists renamed it ‘Capitol Hill Occupied Protest’ zone or ‘CHOP.’
The area contained about six residential blocks, businesses and the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct headquarters.