KEY POINTS

  • Seattle police began dispersing protesters still within the Capitol Hill Occupation Protest Wednesday after nearly a month
  • Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan issued an executive order for the protesters removal Tuesday after multiple reported incidents of violence within the CHOP
  • Four shootings took place inside the CHOP during the occupation, leaving two teens dead and four people wounded

Seattle police on Wednesday began dispersing protesters who have occupied the Capitol Hill Occupation Protest, or CHOP, for nearly a month as part of ongoing Black Lives Matter protests. Police began dispersing protesters around 5:30 a.m. and have arrested at least 13 people refusing to leave the area.

Mayor Jenny Durkan ordered the CHOP to be dispersed Tuesday, saying “reported life safety, public health and property issues” has forced the city to step in and regain control of the area. This sentiment was echoed by Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, who also shared her support for the peaceful Black Lives Matter protests seen across the U.S.

“This order, and our police response, comes after weeks of violence in and around the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone, including four shootings, resulting in multiple injuries and the deaths of two teenagers,” Best said Tuesday in a statement.

“As I have said, and I will say again, I support peaceful demonstrations. Black Lives Matter, and I too want to help propel this movement toward meaningful change in our community.”

The CHOP, or Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) as it was originally called, formed after the first wave of Black Lives Matter protests in Seattle clashed with police. Protesters then took over a six-block area of the city, including the area outside the Seattle police’s east precinct, and created an “autonomous police-free zone.” Thousands of protesters would flock to the area in the coming days, turning the autonomous zone into a national sensation.

As time went on, violence within the CHOP was becoming a regular occurrence with several reported fights and property damage in the autonomous zone.

It escalated on June 20 when the first of multiple shootings took place in the CHOP, leaving a 17-year-old boy dead and a 33-year-old man injured. Two more people were wounded in two subsequent shootings.

A shooting on Monday left a 16-year-old dead and left a 14-year-old wounded.

Demonstrators in Seattle's CHAZ area set up a shrine to the memory of the late George Floyd, whose death at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer triggered the recent wave of protests Demonstrators in Seattle's CHAZ area set up a shrine to the memory of the late George Floyd, whose death at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer triggered the recent wave of protests Photo: AFP / Jason Redmond