The city of Seattle and protesters occupying the “Capitol Hill Organized Protest” (CHOP), formerly known as the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” have reached an agreement that removes roadblocks and replaces them with concrete barriers.
“In coordination with protesters onsite, work began at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday to remove a tent barrier at 10th and Pine and replace it with a sturdier concrete barrier to improve public safety,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office on Tuesday. “The City has successfully worked with protesters onsite to reconfigure the CHOP to allow for public safety and better access for the local community.”
The move will allow for “rerouting traffic, freeing up alley access, opened streets, and replacing makeshift barriers with heavy concrete barriers that can be painted,” the office wrote.
The city said the area located near Cal Anderson Park on Pine Street between 10th and 11th streets will stay closed, and it’s not clear when it will be reopened.
After CHOP, or CHAZ, was established earlier this month, protesters and far-left activists placed makeshift barriers on roads to prevent vehicle traffic. It came after the Seattle Police Department boarded up and abandoned the East Precinct building, located in the area.
The abandonment of the building, located adjacent to apartments and businesses, came after unrest and protests following the death of George Floyd, who died last month while in police custody.
Durkan’s office announced that police “will dispatch to respond to significant life-safety issues in the area,” noting that the police department’s “definition of life-safety issues may include an active shooter incident, an assault, a structure fire, significant medical emergency (i.e. heart attack, stroke, trauma) and other incidents that threaten a person’s life safety.”
The agreement appears to also cut down the size of the zone from six or seven blocks to three.
On Monday, Durkan, who has faced nationwide criticism over how she has handled CHOP, wrote on Twitter that Seattle officials “won’t lose sight of what we need: allowing our community to exercise their first amendment rights, demilitarizing our police force, rethinking who responds to 9-1-1 calls, and investing more to create meaningful change for our black and brown communities.”
Earlier this month, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order on Seattle police from using tear gas, certain types of nonlethal projectiles, and pepper spray to deal with protesters, according to The Associated Press.
Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said on Sunday that officers are responding to some 911 calls in CHOP.
“When it comes to that particular area, if we get a call that’s an important emergency 911 call, we’re going in … but we also have to be considerate of the delicate situation that we have there,” she told CNN.
On June 11, Best told local news outlets that “calls for service have more than tripled,” saying that “these are responses to emergency calls” for “rapes, robberies, and all sorts of violent acts” that have “been occurring in the area that we’re not able to get to.” It came after she said that abandoning the precinct wasn’t her choice.
Some local business owners and residents in the area have said that there has been an increase in crime. On Sunday night, car repair shop Car Tender, was broken into, prompting the owner and a family member to search the suspect. CHOP occupiers then rushed over and threatened to kill the owner of the shop, he told The Epoch Times.