Residents living within the confines of the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), otherwise known as the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest Area (CHOP) — a six-block area within the city of Seattle established by self-described anarchists, Black Lives Matter activists, and Antifa members — are expressing concerns and fear over the implications the movement has had on their everyday lives, forcing some to flee the area.
“I’m mainly scared because I know cops won’t come, I know fire trucks can’t come in. No government has even contacted any residents,” one neighbor of the area told KIRO 7, explaining that he and others are staying in other areas — from friends’ homes to hotels — due to their mounting concerns.
“I was protesting prior to the opening of CHOP or CHAZ but now I don’t know what I’m really supporting if I were to go to CHAZ or linger around, because it’s a different movement,” the man, who chose to remain unidentified, added.
“Even if I want to move out, I can’t move out because I can’t even bring a moving truck there,” he told the outlet. “Hence why I moved to a hotel yesterday; I’ll be staying there for at least a week but I have no idea what’s next.”
He is not alone in his concerns. John McDermott, co-owner of Car Tender on Capitol Hill, explained this week that he called 911 several times to report a burglary and claimed that no one showed up.
“There were no police officers on scene ever. And I was here all night long,” said McDermott, who temporarily detained the suspect with his son, according to King5:
McDermott and his son detained the burglar and were able to put out the fire themselves, but eventually, let the man go. A video, live-streamed online, shows a mob of protesters from the CHOP taking custody of the man and searching him – they also let him go.
When asked about the situation directly Monday afternoon, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said her officers didn’t have a good contact number for the business owner. In an email, an SPD spokesperson said a police report was taken of the incident.
Chief Best added that police will only respond inside the boundaries of the CHOP if there is a direct threat to life and safety.
“We’re just trying to run a small business, make a living, be good members of society, and try to be good neighbors to the neighborhood and I think we’ve really been let down by the mayor’s office, the Seattle Police Department and the fire department,” McDermott added.
Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said last week that officers have been unable to respond to “rapes, robberies, and all sorts of violent acts” occurring in Seattle’s East Precinct due to the police evacuating the precinct in the autonomous zone.
“These are responses to emergency calls — rapes, robberies, and all sorts of violent acts that have been occurring in the area that we’re not able to get to,” she stated:
Seattle Police Chief: "Rapes, robberies and all sorts of violent acts have been occurring in the area and we're not able to get to [them]." #capitolhillautonomouszone #antifa #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/Oe5YfVz3uL
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) June 12, 2020
Best clarified during a Monday appearance on CNN’s Cuomo Primetime that there is no “police-free” zone in the city, assuring that they are “still responding to every single call in every area of the city.”
Best said the barriers, indeed, prevent the department from “going in as quickly and as efficiently as we’d like to.”
“And certainly, because we’re not in the precinct, response times across the entire east precinct area have increased,” she added.
According to KIRO 7, both the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and Seattle Fire Department have been in the process of removing barricades of the so-called autonomous zone:
Seattle Fire and Department of Transportation moving the concrete barriers at 10th & E. Pine.
Part of protest area is opening up.
— Deedee Sun (@DeedeeKIRO7) June 16, 2020
“The changes will partially open up some roads around the access zone for residents, delivery drivers, and emergency vehicles,” the outlet added.