Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on Monday announced that city officials will be working with community leaders and Black-led organizations to peacefully dismantle CHOP, the autonomous zone established by protestors following the death of George Floyd.
Durkan’s announcement that police would be returning to the area follows two shootings over the weekend, one of them fatal. Police were unable to enter the zone to assist the victims, notes Police Chief Carmen Best: “Because we couldn’t guarantee the safety for the first responders to enter…neither officers nor medics were able to get there and treat the wounded.”
Best, who spoke alongside Durkan at Monday’s press conference, noted other crimes – including rape, arson, and burglary – had been reported in or near the zone.
While Durkan did not provide a timeline for dismantling CHOP, she did make it clear that “additional steps” would be taken if occupants did not leave voluntarily. Durkan added that peaceful demonstrations were fine, but that nighttime violence must end.
“The cumulative impact of the gatherings and protests and the nighttime atmosphere and violence has led to increasingly difficult circumstances for our businesses and residents,” said Durkan. “The gun violence unfolding at night is not only wrong, it also is undermining and distracting from the message for change that we are hearing in the street and in so many of the peaceful protests…We cannot let acts of violence define this movement for change.”
Durkan has already promised to increase investment in Black communities and to support accountability measures and statewide reform of police unions.
City Council member Kshama Sawant is introducing several measures in response to protestors’ demands, including cutting the police budget, transforming the East Precinct into a community center, and permanently banning the police from using certain munitions against protestors.
“We have an interest in having safe neighborhoods, but what makes neighborhoods unsafe is not the absence of police,” argues Sawant. “What makes neighborhoods [and] neighbors unsafe, and what generates the conditions for crime, predominantly is economic inequality and injustice.”
Seattle saw some of the nation’s most violent protests following the death of George Floyd. Seattle police abandoned the East Precinct (in CHOP) on June 8th following a controversial clash with civilians involving tear gas, pepper spray, and flash-bangs. Nobody knows who ordered the police to leave.
Protestors claimed six blocks of Seattle and established a police-free zone. The area has no leader and decisions are often made by vote. Residents have welcomed Seattle’s homeless population to stay in the area without judgement.
On June 9th, CHOP residents released a list of demands including the abolishment of the Seattle Police Department, an end to the school-to-prison pipeline, and the de-gentrification of the city.
Editor’s note: So the mayor of Seattle is actually understanding now that police are useful, and that they actually prevent crimes? This woman is the dumbest piece of s***t. And now the council members are proposing CUTS in police funding?
In The Wall Street Journal, I read that a billion-dollar money management firm has decided to move out of Seattle for fear of instability. I don’t blame him.