On Thursday, organizers of the Capitol Hill Occupied/Organized Protest (CHOP) in Seattle notified demonstrators that the protest was breaking up, that police would be returning to the city’s East Precinct, located in the six-block “autonomous zone,” and that the movement would become “virtual.”
Sunday morning, though, “several hundred” protesters remain in CHOP, the Wall Street Journal reports, and are refusing to dismantle the camp until their demand to defund and disband the Seattle Police Department is met.
Seattle city officials met with a group of protest organizers on Saturday, local news reports, as a way of negotiating an end to the “autonomous zone” which has occupied six blocks of the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood for more than two weeks. The city is increasingly desperate to dismantle the CHOP, particularly after being hit with a lawsuit from longtime Capitol Hill residents and business owners who claim the city has tolerated the CHOP’s presence, allowing lawlessness.
But even after offering increased social services to CHOP’s “residents,” Seattle officials say many of the protesters are refusing to leave.
“Several hundred demonstrators are staying in an autonomous area claimed by protesters for racial justice in Seattle, even as its size is shrinking and pressure to shut it down completely is increasing from local businesses and residents, as well as city officials,” WSJ reports Sunday.
‘On Friday morning, city crews arrived to remove some road barriers in the occupation zone and begin cleaning up a city park there,” the WSJ continues, “but were met with ‘significant resistance by protesters, who grew increasingly agitated and aggressive,’ a spokesman for the mayor said. The crews later retreated.”
“When the city Department of Transportation workers arrived at 5:30 a.m Friday to remove the barriers, they were prevented from doing so by at least one protester who lay down on the street in front of a backhoe, preventing its operator from removing the barrier,” KOMO Seattle added.
The Seattle city budget, introduced late last week, does call for a reduction in police funding, but officials are willing to cut only about $20 million from law enforcement budgets — a mere 10% of what protesters are actually asking for.
“Let it be clear: We will not be bought off,” one of the remaining protesters told reporters. “We are here to dismantle systemic racism.”
CHOP’s denizens also say they’re not concerned about local businesses and longterm residents, who, in their complaint filed last week, claimed CHOP was playing host to “armed protesters barring vehicular access to homes and businesses, the blocking of police from responding to calls, including the fatal shooting, and pervasive graffiti.”
“If they are upset about graffiti and violence, I can only imagine how upset they are about the police killing of black people,” one CHOP protester, who has been “supporting” his “community” with musical performances told WSJ.
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