Following a series of shootings in Seattle’s self-proclaimed cop-free zone, or CHOP (Capitol Hill Organized Protest), the police chief is taking a stand.
During a Monday press conference, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said it was time for CHOP to close down. “Enough is enough,” she declared. “Two African American men are dead at a place where they claim to be working for Black Lives Matter.”
A 16-year-old was killed in CHOP Monday. A 19-year-old was also killed June 20. Another 14-year-old is in critical condition from one of the CHOP shootings.
As Best spoke, hecklers chanted and blared horns to drown out her responses to questions from the press. Best said over the noise, “That is so rude. This is what I’m talking about. This kind of behavior is irrational and unacceptable.”
“Two African-American men are dead at a place where they claim to be working for Black Lives Matter.”
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) June 30, 2020
CHOP, formally known as CHAZ, or Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, was founded three weeks ago after a series of violent clashes between protesters and law enforcement, ignited by the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent rioting and protests over police brutality. The clashes came to head when police abandoned one Seattle precinct, and CHOP took over the area.
The mainstream media continue to report that CHOP is “peaceful” or ignore it altogether. Even Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has referred to CHOP as a harmless “block party” and predicted the coming months in CHOP would be “the summer of love.”
Best disagreed, saying in her press conference, “We have had multiple other instances of assaults, rape, robbery, shootings, and this is something that is going to need to change.”
“We are asking people to remove themselves from this area for the safety of the people,” Best said, but she didn’t provide any details about what law enforcement is planning to do to dismantle CHOP or enforce its evacuation. “I can’t telegraph what’s going to happen,” she said. “I can tell you that I think enough is enough, I absolutely do.”
Durkan had said Friday that the concrete barricades surrounding CHOP would be removed on Sunday, and those directly outside the police’s east precinct would be left. No crews arrived on Sunday to remove them, however, and as of 3 p.m. Monday, the barricades were still up.
The Seattle department of transportation tried to remove the barriers early Friday morning, but were stopped by several people sitting or lying on the ground in front of the equipment.
Best took aim at the hypocrisy of CHOP, which was purportedly established as a reaction to the killing of Floyd and other unarmed black Americans at the hands of law enforcement. “Well I can tell you this,” Best said. “As an African American woman with uncles and brothers and stuff, I wouldn’t want them to be in this area. We’ve had two men killed and we have a child who’s injured from gunfire.”