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Seattle City Workers Move To Clear Autonomous Zone, Leave After Activist Draws Gun

Seattle, WA – Protesters stopped city crews from removing the barricades blocking the six blocks that surround the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct on Friday morning by lying in the road and brandishing a firearm.

KOMO reported that people laid down in the street to block equipment and at least one weapon was drawn by protesters in the Capital Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP), formerly known as the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), when city crews arrived to begin cleaning up that area on June 26.

Self-appointed leaders of the CHOP have told city officials that they will not relinquish the occupied zone until their list of demands has been met, KOMO reported.

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And after a brief standoff on June 26, the city backed down and announced it would not attempt to retake the East Precinct that day.

“SPD had no plans to return to the East Precinct today,” a spokesman for Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan told reporters, according to KOMO.

No announcement has been made with regard to when the city will make its next attempt.

A representative for the mayor attempted to tour the occupied zone with the Seattle fire chief, but they were both run out of the area by angry protesters, KOMO reported.

Durkan also has not publicly addressed the group’s list of demands.

The group which has called itself the “CHOP Council” wants the Seattle Police Department and the associated court system to be abolished, according to a list of demands posted to Medium on June 9.

They also demanded that all armed force by police be banned entirely in the meantime.

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Leaders of the CHOP demanded “reparations for police brutality” and that all prisoners incarcerated for marijuana-related crimes or resisting arrest be released and their records expunged, according to the list on Medium.

The protesters who have illegally occupied six blocks of the city also demanded “the abolition of imprisonment, generally speaking, but especially the abolition of both youth prisons and privately-owned, for-profit prisons” and an end to prosecutorial immunity for police, among other weighty topics.

The mayor and Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best announced at a press conference on Monday that they would be dismantling the city’s “autonomous zone” after the bloody weekend in what Durkan had dubbed the city’s “summer of love.”

Durkan asked community leaders to spread the message that it was time to clear out to the people camping out in the six blocks surrounding the East Precinct, KOMO reported.

The mayor’s office has been swamped by a deluge of complaints from residents and business owners whose lives have been upended by the restricted access to the area barricaded off and guarded by armed protesters.

Durkan said she didn’t want to have to use police to tear down the CHOP, KOMO reported.

But video posted to social media showed that as of early Tuesday morning, protesters had begun moving concrete barriers place around the East Precinct by the Seattle Department of Transportation and used them to block additional streets, effectively annexing more territory for the cop-free, autonomous zone.

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Actually shutting down the CHOP may be difficult to accomplish after the city banned police officers from possessing crowd-control weapons.

“The cumulative impacts of the gatherings and protests and the nighttime atmosphere and violence has led to increasingly difficult circumstances for our businesses and residents,” the mayor announced, according to FOX News. “The impacts have increased and the safety has decreased.”

But since that announcement, Durkan has done little to show her commitment to shutting down the illegal occupied area.

A group of 18 residents, businesses, and property owners fed up with the chaos in their neighborhood have filed a lawsuit against the city of Seattle on Thursday for allowing the illegal occupation of the area around the police department’s East Precinct to continue without interference.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit complained that city officials have been complicit in depriving them of their rights to their own properties by allowing the Capital Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP), formerly known as the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), to continue unabated, KING reported.

In the suit, the plaintiffs’ attorneys made it clear their clients didn’t oppose the Black Lives Matter message or cause, just what was being done to their neighborhood by the protesters.

“This lawsuit is about the constitutional and other legal rights of Plaintiffs—businesses, employees, and residents in and around CHOP—which have been overrun by the City of Seattle’s unprecedented decision to abandon and close off an entire city neighborhood, leaving it unchecked by the police, unserved by fire and emergency health services, and inaccessible to the public at large,” the suit read, according to KING.

“The City’s decision has subjected businesses, employees, and residents of that neighborhood to extensive property damage, public safety dangers, and an inability to use and access their properties,” it read.

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The lawsuit alleged that protesters had threatened business owners with retaliation if any of them tried to remove the graffiti painted on their buildings, KING reported.

In one incident, neither police nor fire department personnel responded when looters broke into an auto shop located along the perimeter of the occupied zone.

More than a dozen apartment buildings and small businesses are a part of the suit.

The group said they wanted the city of Seattle held accountable for the deadly shootings, assaults, noise pollution, property damage, and ongoing violence it permitted to happen by allowing protesters to continue the occupation of their neighborhood, according to KING.

“The City’s policies have effectively authorized the actions of the CHOP participants,” the lawsuit read. “The City has communicated clearly to CHOP participants that they may indefinitely continue occupying the streets in the area, maintaining their barricades, and blocking traffic, all without interference from the City.

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Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining Blue Lives Matter, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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