Seattle’s Mayor announced Monday that officials plan to dismantle the six-block “police-free zone” in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood following multiple shootings in the area over the weekend.
“It’s time for people to go home,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said.
The area now known as CHOP, which stands for “Capitol Hill Organized Protest,” has been occupied by demonstrators since June 8, when Seattle police left the East Precinct in Capitol Hill.
A 17-year-old was shot in the arm in the CHOP zone on Sunday night, and another man was shot Tuesday morning and suffered non-life-threatening injuries, according to KING-TV.
“While we believe individuals, organizations and others can continue to gather on Capitol Hill peacefully, the continued disorder, the violence, and the impacts on residents and businesses are not just at odds with a message of justice and equity, they cannot continue to occur,” Durkan said.
“We are working with the community to bring this to an end. Capitol Hill belongs to everyone in the city.”
Neighbors in the community, like Matthew Ploszaj, told KOMO-TV that it shouldn’t have taken such violence for the mayor to take control.
“It was doomed to happen from day one,” Ploszaj said.
“No one wanted to say it, but I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner. It should have ended when the Car Tender got broken into and the mob went down and broke his fence. It did not have to come to this at all.”
Although the mayor didn’t provide a timeline for dispersing the CHOP zone, she said it will be “peacefully and in the near future.”
“Clear it out, peacefully remove them, that’s fine,” Ploszaj said. “But start shuffling them away, they don’t need to stay here overnight.”
Andre Taylor, founder of the police accountability advocacy group Not This Time, told KUOW that he met with leaders of the CHOP on Sunday and warned that the situation could get worse.
“Are you willing to die? And not only are you willing to die, are you willing to take the responsibility of someone who dies on your watch?” Taylor said he asked the leaders.
A Capitol Hill resident named Jason Smith said the entire message of the CHOP zone changed course over time.
“I think it was ‘Black Lives Matter,'” he told KOMO. “I think harassing black people. Killing black people. That’s what it was about first,” he said.
“They lost their way. They lost their way, but they still need to give them something and they need to fight for something.”
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