Seattle Mayor Orders Closure of CHOP Due to ‘Ongoing Violence and Public Safety Issues’

SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 12: A group of friends (L-R) Azzy Grey, Klaire Lee, Onyx Nelson and Samara Isley make food they offer for free with produce they got for free in an area dubbed the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) on June 12, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. The area …
Karen Ducey/Getty Images

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) has issued an executive order vacating the “autonomous” zone in the city, otherwise known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP), citing ongoing gun violence, rape, robbery, assault, increased gang activity, and property damage in the area.

“Effective at 12:00 p.m. noon on June 30, Cal Anderson Park was closed. At 2:00 a.m. on July 1, 2020, the entirety of the Cal Anderson Park Area shall be close to the public to restore public safety, open roadways, remove obstructions to roadways, and public rights of way, and to accomplish full closure and restoration/cleaning of Cal Anderson Park,” Durkan’s executive order reads.

Seattle Police Department will enforce the closure and “provide dispersal orders” for anyone refusing to leave the area. Those who refuse to leave “will be subject to arrest.”

Durkan’s executive order cites several gun violence incidents — two of which resulted in the loss of life —  hostile crowds, the inability of emergency personnel to move quickly and efficiently in the area due to the barriers, narcotics use and violent crime — including rape, robbery, and assault — increased gang activity, business harassment, noise disturbances, property damage, open fires, and ongoing violations of the Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Code of Conduct.

The order adds:

In addition, SPD has received numerous reports of narcotics use and violent crime including rape, robbery , assault, and increased gang activity. An increase of 525%, 22 additional incidents, in person-related crime in the area, to include two additional homicides, 6 additional robberies, and 16 additional aggravated assaults (to include 2 additional non-fatal shootings) between June 2nd and June 30th 2020, compared to the same period of time in 2019.

The order also mentions the “recent rise in COVID-19 numbers across the region, coupled with a lack of social distancing in this area,” noting it increases the risk of outbreaks for those in the zone:

Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best confirmed in a statement that Seattle police “will be in the area this morning enforcing the  Mayor’s  order.  ”

“This order, and our police response, comes after weeks of violence in and around the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone, including four shootings, resulting in multiple injuries and the deaths of two teenagers,” Best said.

“As I have said, and I will say again, I support peaceful demonstrations. Black Lives Matter, and I too want to help propel this movement toward meaningful change in our community,” she continued. “But 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,” she added:

My job, and the job of our officers, is to protect and serve our community. This is not an end to our department’s engagement with demonstrators. We must continue our efforts to build trust and redefine our roles as guardians in our city. I will continue to work with the Community Police Commission, the Office of Police Accountability, the Inspector General, the Mayor, the Seattle City Council and ALL of our community and social justice partners in the coming weeks to encourage peace and to begin meaningful dialog about reenvisioning public safety in our community.

Durkan’s order follows another shooting in the CHOP zone early Monday morning, which left one teenager dead and another critically injured. The day prior, demonstrators, including Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, marched to Durkan’s home, protesting her vow to eventually disband CHOP — a demonstration the mayor’s office sharply condemned.

A statement from the mayor’s office read in part:

Mayor Durkan and her family are in the state program to keep their address confidential because of the death threats mostly related to her work as Seattle’s U.S. Attorney under President Obama. Instead of working to make true change, Councilmember Sawant continues to choose political stunts. Tonight she did so without regard for the safety of the Mayor and her family. The Mayor was not even home — she was working at City Hall. Seattle can and should peacefully demonstrate but should not put families and children at risk.

Police are reportedly making arrests in the area:

This story is developing…


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