Police pepper sprayed protesters and arrested 25 people for refusing to leave Seattle's reclaimed Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) zone on Wed
Police pepper sprayed protesters and arrested 25 people for refusing to leave Seattle’s reclaimed Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) zone on Wednesday night.
Officers took back their precinct just hours earlier following an executive order for demonstrators to vacate the area. They had abandoned the building and several blocks around it on June 8 following clashes with demonstrators calling for an end to police brutality.
A 10-day dispersal order remains in place as neighbors say ‘we’ve lost residents and small businesses’ after violence overran the cop-free zone and two teenage boys were killed. A huge clean up operation went into effect Wednesday after police cleared out the protesters.
In a statement issued at 5:30am on Thursday officials confirmed the 25 arrests for failure to disperse, assault, and obstructing. They added: ‘Police deployed blast balls and pepper spray while attempting to make arrests after individuals in the crowd began throwing bottles at officers.
‘Mayor Durkan’s Executive Order remains in effect today. Officers will disperse groups or individuals as needed, or make arrests, to ensure safety in the area.’
The clean up was set to continue Thursday as those living and working in the area said ‘no one has won’.
Police confirmed they had earlier arrested 44 people for crimes including failure to disperse, assault and obstruction after taking back their precinct. That followed an executive order from Mayor Jenny Durkan following two deadly shootings and crime rise by more than 500 per cent .
As residents in the neighborhood watched from balconies, police cleared out the protesters’ tents from the park and made sure no one was left in the park’s bathrooms. Capitol Hill business owner Faizel Khan told King5: ‘No, I don’t think anyone has won anything out of this I think we’ve actually lost.’
Police confirmed they arrested at least 44 people for crimes including failure to disperse, assault and obstruction after taking back their precinct Wednesday following an executive order for protesters to vacate the area
Police and protesters overnight Wednesday on the day police took back their precinct and arrested 44 demonstrators
The area around the East Precinct and Cal Anderson Park remains closed to the public with only those who live and own businesses there allowed back in.
‘I think we’ve lost a mayor. We’ve lost a city council person. We’ve lost residents. We’ve lost small businesses. We’ve lost the Black Lives Matter movement. The loss of life for children is the worst part of it’, business owner Khan added.
One anonymous shop owner added: ‘It seems like we’re supposed to sacrifice our piece of mind, our safety, for this movement and that doesn’t seem fair.’
City workers were then left to clean up huge piles of trash and tents left behind by protesters as bulldozers moved in and crushed the camp.
‘I was just stunned by the amount of graffiti, garbage and property destruction,’ Police chief Carmen Best said after she walked around the area.
City crews dismantle the Capitol Hill Organized Protest area outside of the Seattle Police Department’s vacated East Precinct
The clean up operation began at Seattle’s Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) zone on Wednesday
A group of local business owners had sued the city, claiming that officials abandoned the area and made it impossible to run businesses because there was no police or fire protection.
Police confirmed they were forced to use pepper spray during the arrest of one person who was armed with a metal pole. They later added: ‘Individuals in crowd are throwing bottles at officers. Officers deployed pepper spray and are making arrests.’
Wearing helmets and wielding batons and rifles, Seattle police stood shoulder-to-shoulder on several streets while others created a makeshift fence with their bicycles, using it to push dozens of protesters back away from the center of the CHOP zone just east of downtown.
‘Our job is to support peaceful demonstration but what has happened on these streets over the last two weeks is lawless and it’s brutal and bottom line it is simply unacceptable,’ Chief Best said.
Pictures show trash and debris being collected by city workers with tents and protest signs taken down
TIMELINE OF VIOLENCE IN SEATTLE’S CHOP ZONE
June 8: Protesters occupy the area; police abandoned the precinct
June 20: A 19-year-old man is shot dead and a 33-year-old man was wounded
June 24: Nearby businesses and property owners filed a federal lawsuit against the city
June 29: Two teens shot – one fatally – in Jeep at zone’s concrete barriers
June 30: Barricades at Seattle’s cop-free zone are torn down as protesters replace concrete barriers with trash cans and couches
Early hours : Mayor Jenny Durkan demand all barriers are removed after a 525 per cent spike in violent crimes in the area
5am: Police swarm the zone
5:30am: Eyewitnesses say officers have cleared the area
7am: Chief Carmen Best confirms police have taken back precinct
One protest organizer, Derrek Allen Jones II, said some demonstrators attempted to stay but were surprised by the early intervention by officers who were ‘trampling everything I seen in sight, flipping tables.’
‘People were trying to hold their ground but you could see the cops literally storm through people’s beds while they were sleeping. And literally say ‘If you don’t get out, we will force you out or arrest you,’ he said.
One man dressed in black was peacefully led away in handcuffs and other demonstrators sat on the wet ground until their small group was handcuffed and detained.
Police also tore down fences that protesters had erected around their tents and used batons to poke inside bushes, apparently looking for people who might be hiding. One officer took down a sign saying ‘We are not leaving until our demands are met: 1. Defund SPD by 50% now. 2. Fund Black Communities. 3. Free all protesters.’
After police evicted the protesters, heavy equipment was used to remove concrete barriers, cart away debris from the encampments while officers strung yellow caution tape from tree to tree warning people not to reenter.
The move to dismantle the area follows the shooting death of a 16-year-old boy, named as Antonio Mays Jr, in the early hours of Monday morning. A 14-year-old was also critically injured when eyewitnesses say armed security inside the zone fired 300 rounds.
Lorenzo Anderson, 19, was shot on the protest area on June 20.
His father, Horace Lorenzo Anderson, said: ‘This doesn’t look like a protest to me no more. That just looks like they just took over and said we can take over whenever we want to.’
Volunteer medic Marty Jackson had described the area as an ‘active war zone’ and said: ‘I don’t think we’re gonna stop here.’
‘The recent public safety threats have been well documented,’ Mayor Jenny Durkan said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. ‘These acts of gun violence resulted in the tragic deaths of two teenagers, with multiple others seriously wounded. Despite continued efforts to deescalate and bring community together, this violence demanded action.’
Durkan also said while she supported the police in making arrests Wednesday, she doesn’t think many of those arrested for misdemeanors should be prosecuted. She also said she was committed to work that would dismantle systemic racism and build true community safety.
‘Events in the Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone this morning, while necessary, should not diminish the cause of racial justice,’ Gov. Jay Inslee said in an emailed statement.
Best said in addition to the fatal shootings, robberies, assaults, violence and property crimes have occurred in the area in the last few weeks. She said she wanted police to move back into the precinct so officers could better respond to needs in the area. Protesters have said they should not be blamed for the violence in the area.
Wearing helmets and wielding batons and rifles, officers converged on the area at dawn
Mayor Jenny Durkan, right, had demanded all barriers be removed from the city’s ‘occupied’ protest zone after a 525 per cent spike in violent crimes in the area. Chief Carmen Best, right, said: ‘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’
City workers begin to dismantle tents and barricades left behind after the CHOP area in Seattle was reclaimed by police
There had been mounting calls by critics, including President Donald Trump, to remove protesters.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr praised Best for what he called ‘her courage and leadership in restoring the rule of law in Seattle.’
‘Chief Best has rightly committed to continue the substantive discussion while ending the violence, which threatens innocent people and undermines the very rule-of-law principles that the protesters profess to defend,’ he said in a statement.
Seattle Black Collective Voice, which was formed by people in the protest zone, said previously that their work would continue even if they were forced out of that area. On Wednesday afternoon the group said via Twitter, ‘We don’t end with CHOP.’