Seattle police will return to protest zone, mayor says

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said police would return to his building in the eastern riding after a weekend in which three people were killed in the occupied area known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, or CHOP. One of the victims died.

“In the near future, the SPD will return peacefully to the eastern zone,” Durkan said via Twitter, as she and police chief Carmen Best announced their intention to regain control of the area formerly known as Capitol Hill Autonomous Area.

Seattle police must work from the compound to “provide public safety” and respond to emergency calls, said Durkan.

“It is time for people to go home,” said the mayor, according to KUOW member station.

“The persistent disorder, violence and impacts on residents and businesses are not only at odds with a message of justice and fairness, they cannot continue to happen,” said Durkan.

The CHOP area, which spans about six blocks, became a hub of art and activism in the two weeks after the police released the compound. But there have also been outbreaks of violence, especially at night. Over the weekend, police and rescuers who responded to calls for fire were forced to stay outside the protest area, which is bordered by barricades in the streets.

A 19-year-old man was killed on Saturday around 2:30 a.m. local time in a shootout that police say happened in Cal Anderson Park – just around the corner from East Precinct on 12th Avenue and the Pine Street. The incident also left a 33-year-old man in critical condition.

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“Police attempted to locate victim, but violent crowd encountered them [their] safe access to victims, Seattle Police Department said. “The officers were later informed that the victims, the two men, had been transported to the Harborview Medical Center by” doctors “from CHOP.”

When the police arrived at the hospital, they learned that one of the victims of the shooting had died.

Late Sunday evening, a 17-year-old boy was shot in the arm. The victim was also taken to the Harborview Medical Center in a private vehicle before first responders could reach him.

CHOP protesters listed three main demands: cut funding for Seattle police by 50%; dedicate this money to community efforts such as restorative justice and health care; and ensure that protesters are not charged with crimes. Protesters also called for Durkan’s resignation.

The protest area was established in the Capitol Hill neighborhood after a violent reaction against city police over the use of tear gas, pepper spray and flash grenades in protests that had been largely peaceful. The protest area, first known as CHAZ and then CHOP, has become the home of a number of activist groups united behind the Black Lives Matter movement’s struggle against systemic racism.

As the mayor and police prepare to return to the compound, there are signs that activists are working to continue their collective efforts, regardless of the fate of the protest area.

Monday evening, a group of CHOP organizers shared an open letter from a new group called Seattle Organized Protest Support which states: “We recognize that CHOP will not last forever and may not be sustainable any longer, but that does not mean that the fight is over.”

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Source: NPR

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