Seattle police finally cleared the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest and reclaimed control of their precinct in the zone on Wednesday — and it took them less than an hour.
Mayor Jenny Durkan, who had allowed the protesters to control the police-free zone for over three weeks, authorized the move hours after CHOP protesters marched on her house in what she deemed a dangerous stunt.
At least 100 heavily equipped officers arrived outside the zone before sunrise, and just before 5 a.m., they ordered the protesters to disperse within eight minutes.
- As police swept through the CHOP, they removed a hastily erected barricade of trash bags along with long-standing barriers and tents.
- Some protesters tipped over portable toilets set up by the city, and armed individuals circled the area in vehicles without license plates, according to the police.
- At least 23 people were arrested for failure to disperse, resisting arrest and assault.
“A lot of chaos, you hear many many voices,” Deborea Killman, who was sleeping in a tent in the zone, told KOMO News. “But then I heard on the megaphone it’s either going to be the police or National Guard so that’s when I started saying OK, it’s time to get up.”
The CHOP was mostly emptied of protesters by 6:20 a.m., according to KING 5 News reporter Michael Crowe.
- Omari Salisbury, a reporter with Seattle’s Converge Media who was on the scene, said, “The Seattle Police Department basically reclaimed the precinct in less than 30 minutes, and five feet at a time.”
- During the operation, Seattle police released a nearly four-minute video depicting violence that has taken place in the six-block zone.
Police Chief Carmen Best held a short press conference at 7 a.m. to announce police had ended the CHOP, with help from the FBI, after “weeks of violence” in the area.
- “The CHOP has become lawless and brutal,” she said. ““Enough is enough.”
- Best noted two teenagers had been killed in four shootings in and around the zone in the past two weeks.
- According to the police, they received reports of 65 crimes in the CHOP, including assaults, rape and robbery, compared to 37 in the same area during all of last year.
Best and Durkanpledged last Monday to retake control of the CHOP and the East Precinct, which authorities abandoned on June 8 amid sometimes-violent protests against police and racism.
- But the leaders provided no timeline, and Durkan said she would negotiate with the protesters and community leaders rather than sending in the police.
- Durkan had previously rejected calls by President Donald Trump and others to reclaim the zone, claiming it posed “no threat to the public” and predicting “a summer of love.”
Then, on Sunday afternoon, a socialist Seattle City Council member joined a large group of CHOP protesters in a march to Durkan’s house.
- The mayor’s office quickly issued a statement that suggested the protesters were a menace to “the safety of the Mayor and her family.”
- “Seattle can and should peacefully demonstrate but should not put families and children at risk,” the statement said.
- Durkham also sent a letter to the Seattle City Council, asking it to investigate Sawant’s actions and possibly expel her.
In her executive order, Durkan said “the City remains committed to re-imagining policing and making significant investments into the community and continuing outreach, engagement, and opportunity for community input in re-examining the role of police and the reform of social services.”