Seattle police have released videos of the Capital Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) “autonomous zone” where violent confrontations took place over the course of a three-week occupation before authorities shut it down Wednesday.
The police video, which showed clips from June 20, 21, and 29, shows mass brawls, audio of gunshots, people scrambling for cover, and a man carrying what appears to be an AK-47. These scenes took place inside several blocks of downtown Seattle where activists declared local and federal authority void, putting up barriers to keep out police and eschewing any formal internal governance.
According to the New York Post, one individual in the clips says in response to the gunfire: “This has got to be the end of CHOP, in my opinion… This is kind of a nightmare.”
On Wednesday morning, police announced 23 arrests made while dismantling the encampment, where private property was damaged and streets were strewn with trash.
Mayor Jenny Durkan issued an executive order late Tuesday to clear out the autonomous zone, citing “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.”
Durkan’s executive order stands in stark contrast to her previous comments on the CHOP. Just days after its creation, she compared the area to a “block party” and invoked “the summer of love.” After President Donald Trump criticized her remarks, Durkan replied on social media, “Seattle is fine. Don’t be so afraid of democracy.”
Seattle is fine. Don’t be so afraid of democracy. https://t.co/o26PkJnYhA
— Mayor Jenny Durkan (@MayorJenny) June 12, 2020
The Seattle occupation took place as part of a wave of protests and violence sparked by a string of racially-charged killings: Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, and George Floyd in Minnesota.
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