Seattle Police Dismantle CHOP Over 'Ongoing Violence' After Mayor Declares Autonomous Zone Over

The Seattle Police Department moved to dismantle the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) zone on Wednesday following an executive order issued by Mayor Jenny Durkan, citing violence in the area and harassment of residents.

Durkan signed the order indicating that at 2 a.m. local time "the entirety of Cal Anderson Park area shall be closed to the public safety," and anyone who refuses to leave will be "subject to arrest." The order also directs the Department of Transportation to remove "all barriers and obstructions" in the area.

The mayor also stated that while the city has "more than reasonably accommodated protesters" by offering electricity, garbage removal, and "modifying" streets to vehicles and pedestrians, the violent events that have occurred in the area led to the decision to disperse protesters.

The protest site has seen two Black teenagers, 19 and 16, shot dead, four other shooting victims injured, and multiple violent assaults since its inception three weeks ago. The mayor stated that businesses and residents in the area have filed multiple claims of harassment by protesters.

"The city's obligations under the First Amendment do not require the city to provide limitless sanctuary to occupy city property, damage city and private property, obstruct the right of way, or foster dangerous conditions," Durkan stated.

Police Chief Carmen Best said in a statement Wednesday that the emergency order comes "after weeks of violence in and around the [CHOP] zone" and that it is the police's job to "protect and serve the community."

"Enough is enough.  The CHOP has become lawless and brutal. Four shootings–-two fatal—robberies, assaults, violence and countless property crimes have occurred in this several block area," Best said.

The SPD stated in a tweet that because there are multiple armed people in the area officers would be "equipped with additional protective gear" as they moved through Cal Anderson Park to remove protesters.

Officers continue to give dispersal orders and are checking Cal Anderson restrooms. Police will be clearing north end of the park soon. Thank you to the individuals affiliated with the CHOP who have assisted officers in encouraging people to safely leave the area.

— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) July 1, 2020

"Officers continue to give dispersal orders and are checking Cal Anderson restrooms. Police will be clearing [the] north end of the park soon. Thank you to the individuals affiliated with the CHOP who have assisted officers in encouraging people to safely leave the area," the SPD stated.

The SPD also tweeted out a report of "several vehicles" containing armed individuals and without visible license plates driving around the police operation.

Officers are investigating several vehicles circling the area of today’s operation. Police have observed individuals in the vehicles with firearms/armor. The vehicles also appear to be operating without visible license plates.

— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) July 1, 2020

A live stream of the CHOP zone shows a large gathering of law enforcement officers standing near the East Precinct with bicycles as barricades on the street leading up to their precinct.

BREAKING - The Seattle PD is finally moving in to dismantle the CHOP autonomous zone. Live stream:https://t.co/INplB04JUw

— Disclose.tv 🚨 (@disclosetv) July 1, 2020

Police abandoned the East Precinct on June 8 after clashes with protesters, resulting in the occupation of a six-by-six-block portion of the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Protesters said they would not leave until their demands were met, which included a 50 percent reduction in the SPD budget.

This story has been updated with additional background information.

CHOP Dismantling
A protester holds a sign outside of the Seattle Police Department's vacated East Precinct inside the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) zone on June 30, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. David Ryder/Getty