SEATTLE, WA — After several days of tense, violent protests around the Seattle PD’s east precinct building, Mayor Jenny Durkan made the decision to pull out the barricades and officers defending the precinct.
Shortly after, thousands of activists and community members took over and began occupying six blocks of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. The area first became known as CHAZ, for Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, but recently its been called CHOP, for the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest.
“CHOP is a way, a tangible way for folks to demonstrate that our demands are not met and we will not leave. And so we will not leave until they are.”
Some media coverages have presented CHOP to be more violent that it actually is, with President Donald Trump calling the space a product of an “anarchist takeover.”
“When we see these reactions from the state in order to control, umm, communal activity, it’s an indicator of something being done so effective that it’s caught the attention of those in power.”
“They want to involve politics in it. And so I think that also is part of the reason why this is getting skewed is because there’s a political agenda that we’re trying to push and saying that this is all violence, politics, all these things when it really isn’t.”
The six-block zone has been described to resemble more of a festival or a farmer’s market, than a protest.
Speakers use microphones to discuss demands, artists paint murals, and many engage in conversations about race and discrimination. Those in the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest are looking for systemic change.
“The first demand is to defund the Seattle police department. The second demand is to reallocate that money into human services. So to reinvest money into efforts that will actually tangibly enrich black communities, communities here in Seattle. And the third demand is to free all protesters and really emphasizing that there is no such thing as this bad or good protest or dichotomy that all protesters must be free, um, and all protesters are here for this common cause of advancing this movement for black liberation.”
Police have peacefully returned to the east precinct building but people from the capitol hill occupied protest continue to stay and plan to remain in place until real changes are made.