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City of Seattle works out new shape with Capitol Hill protest zone and camp

(Image: @matmitgang)

New footprint map

New footprint map (Image: City of Seattle)

The City of Seattle has announced agreement with organizers at the Capitol Hill protest site that has sprouted around the boarded-up East Precinct that will consolidate the camp and demonstration area on the now art-filled E Pine and in Cal Anderson Park:

Minor changes to the protest zone will implement safer and sturdier barriers to protect individuals in this area, allow traffic to move throughout the Capitol Hill neighborhood, ease access for residents of apartment building in the surrounding areas, and help local businesses manage deliveries and logistics. Additionally all plans have been crafted with the goal of allowing access for emergency personnel including fire trucks.

Seattle Department of Transportation crews were busy Tuesday morning moving and replacing the many large barriers left behind by Seattle Police that camp organizers had used to cordon off the streets and block the area to vehicle traffic. The new setup includes heavy safety barriers used to create new lanes for traffic while protecting protest zones near the precinct. It includes many softer barriers to help direct activities — the new plywood will also add to the opportunities for painting, tagging, and art in the area.

The changes come amid concerns from many residents, business owners, and property owners about the long-term plans for the camp and how to deal with day to day issues like deliveries or moving trucks. It will also help address safety issues identified by Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins who has been a regular presence at the camp.

Worries about public safety and Seattle Police’s role in the neighborhood after its exit from the precinct will persist. In its announcement, the city couldn’t announce anything like reconfigured street lanes that will change the issues around policing the neighborhood. “The Seattle Police Department will dispatch to respond to significant life-safety issues in the area,” the announcement reads. “The Seattle 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. ”

UPDATE: Another example of SPD and the protest community finding ways to work together? SPD says this man was stopped by protesters after he busted out the East Precinct’s lobby window Saturday. Police are looking for more information to identify the suspect.

The camp’s growth as a symbol and center of activity is astonishing. It has been one week since SPD backed away from the hard lines it had maintained around the East Precinct citing FBI warnings about threats of violence and arson. Worries about Free Capitol Hill and a so-called “autonomous zone” have now become a daily talking point for the Trump administration.

On the hyperlocal level, the city says the changes were focused on helping to clear 12th Ave:

A top priority for community access is opening 12th Avenue, a City arterial road, which typically carries more traffic. Under these changes, 12th Ave will become one way on the south side of Pine St in order to accommodate a protest zone in the west lanes and allow access and movement of vehicles in the east lanes. An alley access zone was also set up on the South side of Pine between 11th and 12th to allow for apartment building access.

The city announcement does not have much to say about Cal Anderson but it is clear the Capitol Hill central park will play a growing role in any longterm stay for demonstrators. It is filling with tents housing protesters and a growing community of campers. “Capitol Hill and Cal Anderson Park have long been a gathering place for justice,” the city announcement reads.

The Durkan administration also used the camp agreement to address the much larger issues that need resolution around the movement. The city says it “reached out” to community groups over the weekend including Black Lives Matter, Urban League, Choose 180, Not This Time, Africatown and others “to share the plan for traffic and safety mitigation in this area. ” Addressing the demands for defunding SPD and increased spending on social and equity programs will require more than new street barriers.

“Preserving a space for demonstrators to come together is one of several actions the City has taken to respond to the community’s call for change,” the city announcement reads. “Over the last two weeks, Mayor Durkan has prioritized meeting with community leaders and demonstration organizers, heard their concerns, and is committed to enduring systemic changes to reimagine what policing looks like in Seattle and to addressing systemic racism.”

“The City recognizes that more must be done, and the Mayor and department leaders are committed to that work,” it concludes.

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29 thoughts on “City of Seattle works out new shape with Capitol Hill protest zone and camp” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

    • Passed through there about 15 minutes ago. 13th & and Pine was still barricaded with vehicles. Some fire department folks hanging around, some SDOT workers, some protesters.
      Not a whole lot going on.

      • I just walked by again as well, looks like the truck/SUV that was the “barricade” there has gone, seems like SDOT has replaced all that with a “detour/local access” sign.

  1. sorry there’s no peace and quiet here. its become a non stop party on cal anderson and we haven’t been able to sleep. when asked to turn it down, i was told “f you n..”. come and live here if you are so in love with it, but we need quiet with the peace. this is from someone who actually lives here.

      • a revolution with white hippies playing loud shitty music till 6 in the morning and disturbing the peace of actual productive members of society. theres old people and kids who live in the neighborhood. way to make black peoples lives better across america. amazing revolution this is – i already feel the change happening.get out of our neighborhood please and bring the real protesters back.

      • Yup. An absolute clown show. Everyone in the city who “negotiates” or talks with these people should be fired. It’s a shame all the productive members of Seattle are too busy trying to keep a roof over their head to do anything about this collective of losers who are getting their fifteen minutes.

    • I’ve been trying to raise these concerns like so many of us actual residents to the “decentralized” protestors, the mayor, the journalists and no one ever addresses any of it. When the protest machinery is stuck on their narrative that allows harm to the residents and reacts by making us out to be racist because we are simply trying to not get sick or in danger due to their approach is really making them more like the very systems they (WE) are fighting to change. They don’t even listen to their own poc organizations expressing concerns. Go occupy Durkins home base to put real pressure on. She could care less the East precinct is down. The vibe is definitely like the protest against racism has been co-opted to justify a big party in the Covid era and for many wanting to become streaming celebrities (not Omari tho).

  2. We have been told numerous times that NO ONE is above the law. But the last time I checked, it’s illegal to barricade city streets and to camp in City Parks. But that’s what is happening, and no one in our City government seems care! In fact, a member of the City Council seems to be actively encouraging this behavior with her late night political rallies at City Hall. Could there be another agenda here?

    • Wow, Cal Anderson is going to be Seattle’s new CHOP zone (BTW, I prefer Durkan Vil). Now I get it. Throw in a few protesters, and voilà you have a homeless encampment protected by the First Amendment. How clever!

  3. You won’t be able to drive a car on 12th with those barriers in place.
    The barriers are spaced in such a way that people can just walk through the barriers, so people can just walk right out in traffic. The barriers partially block your view as well, so a driver might not see someone who is leaving CHAZ via the east entrance.
    Those barriers are will also keep fire trucks and ambulances from being able to enter into the area. ( Are those building still being insured at this point? )
    It is hard to see what the city was attempting to achieve by erecting these structures.

  4. Again we see the microphone made available to everyone but the long-time residents in the neighborhood. Even the neighborhood CHS and Stranger see fit to scarcely mention our concerns.

    The leadership of CHOP certainly is not taking in our concerns, our local public safety and emergency services essentially abandoned us, and both our local City Council member and our mayor have shown zero interest in providing productive leadership.

    I definitely feel like I am under an occupation.

    • Nonsense.

      I live and own a business in the area and you can talk to any of the organizers any time you want.

      Occupation? You mean the god damned armed police and national guard shooting your neighbors point blank with tear gas grenades wasn’t an occupation?

      GTFO. You don’t live here or you’d know. You can walk around and do anything you want just fine.

      • Gee, such empathy, ToB. I see this with a lot of your type; if someone has a contrary view you just round on them by saying things like “You don’t live here!” Then telling them to “FO.” So rude. Is that how you treat your customers? Please state the name of your business, so I can know not to patronize it.

      • If I were any closer, I’d be living in the park. Been here for almost every moment of the protest and occupation.

        GTFO? No thanks – I love this neighborhood. Could you offer me something productive? My only agenda is to co-habitate.

        I would love to partner up with others – protesters, neighbors, business owners – and participate in a solution. And it’s not that we are unable talk to anyone, I’ve had quite a few conversations with people vested in CHOP. So far these conversations have been ineffectual.

        As an update, it’s 10:10 PM and the party is starting in the park and they’ve turned up the volume. Hopefully it doesn’t go to 3:00 AM like last night.

  5. So, the City is taking measures to facilitate the long-term, illegal occupation of this area. Sad, and not OK.

    Why are tents being allowed in Cal Anderson Park? They are keeping non-protesters from using a PUBLIC facility!

  6. I’m sickened that Cal Anderson has been taken over by this lot of people. Is there a number in which citizens can call to complain? I’m 100% ok with protesting, but that does not give agency to folks to trash our city parks, plant gardens, and cause chaos in the streets. The only thing I saw in regards to BLM was the tagging on every surface. The message has been lost, and these folks need to find a new place to stage their campsite shenanigans so that all people, young, old, gay, straight, black, white, Hispanic, rich and poor, can get out of their homes during this unfortunate pandemic to enjoy a park safely. We collectively paid for this park, and we pay for the upkeep. I think it’s abhorrent that this take over is being allowed to happen.

    • Contacting your City Council members is a good start. I imagine we share the same three:

      Kshama Sawant (District 9)

      Teresa Mosqueda (City Wide)

      Lorena González (City Wide)

      And of course, contact the mayors office:

      Outside of the Seattle Parks, I am not sure of what other city and county services to contact. For example, Seattle Metro might be an indirect way to apply some pressure. Our experience is you won’t get much traction with the police and fire department, but they might be tracking calls.

      I am certainly interested in meeting long-term residents to discuss options, and possibly coordinate. We have attempted to talk with perceived leaders in the protest, and most are amiable, but the decentralized organization of the protest is problematic (especially when working individually).

      Stay safe everyone.

      • Thank you, Chaz Neighbor, for this detailed list. I will be crafting an email and calling all four of these folks today. Thanks again!

    • Seattle Customer Service Bureau has been a place people have made complaints to or sought resource information from and the staff have been nice. 206-684-2489 but if they are not doing phone access under the pandemic there is a way to send something via their website.

      The mayor’s contact info is hopefully heating up over this. Try that also.

  7. good article on “new normal” in YES! Magazine:
    “Prolonged Uprising is the New Normal”. “we must get used to and comfortable with people being in dedicated, committed, and prolonged uprising. In fact, I believe that’s what this “new normal” is, and I hope that these protests go well into November and beyond until we see accountability and real, tangible actions taken by cities, states, and the country to abolish racism and white supremacy.”

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