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As the Capitol Hill protest zone is reopened and repaired, CHOP 2.0 still in place at Seattle Central College

CHOP 2.0 is proving to be as tenacious as its predecessor.

School officials say they continue to work with camp organizers and the city for a voluntary clearance of the collection of tents and tables that has grown on the south plaza lawn of Seattle Central following the raid and sweep of the occupied protest from Cal Anderson and around the East Precinct.

The school says the camp has included an “open display of weapons on campus” and must be voluntarily cleared in days or the college will turn the matter over to Mayor Jenny Durkan, Seattle City Hall, and SPD.

“Seattle Central College supports the exercise of free speech, and we stand in solidarity with the protests against police brutality and in support of Black Lives Matter,” school president Sheila Edwards Lange writes in a letter to staff and students sent Wednesday morning. “Our South Plaza is, in fact, officially a protest area. But it is not a designated camping ground or a shelter space.”

In the letter, the school official describes a “settlement of tents and awnings on that site is growing and it’s taking on an aggressive and intimidating posture.”

Vehicles are illegally driving and parking on sidewalks and on the brick area of our plaza. Some of the people in the encampment are intimidating people passing by, farmers market patrons, and employees at the college. Firearms have been openly brandished; guns on campus are strictly prohibited even for those who have a permit for a concealed weapon. In addition, an increasing amount of human waste is posing a health hazard for the area.

Last week, CHS reported on the formation of the new camp at the school and Seattle Central’s intentions to keep campers out of the space some nine years after Occupy Seattle tents filled the area for nearly two months before being forced out just before Christmas 2011.  In 2012, the college further moved to restrict protest and camping. As with Occupy, many of the campers joining the group on the lawn are people experiencing homelessness.

In her letter, Edwards Lange recalled the Occupy camp and said the school hopes to take a similar approach to ending the current occupation:

Many of you may remember that we resolved the Occupy encampment in 2011 by working with protestors, the city, and community members to have the site voluntarily dismantled. We are trying the same approach again. Last week, representatives of the city’s Navigation Team for homeless response visited the encampment – as they did at the CHOP for weeks with Public Health A Seattle King County officials – to provide emergency housing resources. We have officially handed out notices to vacate or risk being charged with trespassing.

“The bulk of campers are refusing to do so, and more seem to be setting up tents on site,” Edwards Lange writes.

SCC says it is continuing to work “with the city, CHOP organizers, and community-based organizations to reach the same kind of voluntary dismantling of this occupation as we did in 2011.”

This time, Edwards Lange says, there is greater urgency. “If we are not able to reach agreement with organizers for voluntary dismantling within the next few days, we will be forced to call upon the city to remove the encampment to protect the health and safety of our community,” she writes.

Protests and marches across the Hill for Black Lives Matter have continued. Tuesday night, marchers did not gather at Seattle Central, instead choosing the nearby shuttered Capitol HIll Presbyterian Church as its gathering place for a march and demonstration that eventually ended up in Capitol Hill’s Seven Hills Park.

Elsewhere around the Capitol Hill protest zone in the wake of the city’s July 1st raid and sweep of the CHOP camp, Cal Anderson has been mostly repaired and reopened while the East Precinct is returning to normal operations — albeit behind concrete barriers and a chain-link fence that now appears to be a semi-permanent component of the landscape at 12th and Pine.

The full letter from Edwards Lange is below:

Dear Seattle Central Community,

I write today to update you on an escalating safety situation at our Broadway campus.

After the city cleared the six-block area near the East Precinct on July 1, known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) zone, some of the people who had camped in and around Cal Anderson Park moved their encampments to the green spaces of Seattle Central’s South Plaza.

Seattle Central College supports the exercise of free speech, and we stand in solidarity with the protests against police brutality and in support of Black Lives Matter. Our South Plaza is, in fact, officially a protest area. But it is not a designated camping ground or a shelter space.

The settlement of tents and awnings on that site is growing and it’s taking on an aggressive and intimidating posture. Vehicles are illegally driving and parking on sidewalks and on the brick area of our plaza. Some of the people in the encampment are intimidating people passing by, farmers market patrons, and employees at the college. Firearms have been openly brandished; guns on campus are strictly prohibited even for those who have a permit for a concealed weapon. In addition, an increasing amount of human waste is posing a health hazard for the area.

Many of you may remember that we resolved the Occupy encampment in 2011 by working with protestors, the city, and community members to have the site voluntarily dismantled. We are trying the same approach again. Last week, representatives of the city’s Navigation Team for homeless response visited the encampment – as they did at the CHOP for weeks with Public Health A Seattle King County officials – to provide emergency housing resources. We have officially handed out notices to vacate or risk being charged with trespassing. The bulk of campers are refusing to do so, and more seem to be setting up tents on site.

Police sweeps and the criminalization of homelessness are not consistent with our values as a campus. However, we must balance our commitment to activism with ensuring the health, safety, and wellbeing of our neighborhood, staff, students, and visitors.

We continue to work with the city, CHOP organizers, and community-based organizations to reach the same kind of voluntary dismantling of this occupation as we did in 2011. In this case, however, the urgency for action is severe given the open display of weapons on campus. If we are not able to reach agreement with organizers for voluntary dismantling within the next few days, we will be forced to call upon the city to remove the encampment to protect the health and safety of our community.

We will share more news about this situation as it becomes available. We will do everything in our power to make sure our campus remains a safe and welcoming place to work, study, and where people can speak and protest for justice and positive change.

Sincerely,

Sheila Edwards Lange
President, Seattle Central College


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9 thoughts on “As the Capitol Hill protest zone is reopened and repaired, CHOP 2.0 still in place at Seattle Central College

  1. Glad Seattle Central is finally doing something about this, albeit slowly. Walking past the campus in the last few weeks, I’ve noticed it’s gotten pretty gross.

  2. The encampment is literally all the homeless people that were kicked out of CHOP. At night it gets crazy! Lots of partying. Drug use is pretty apparent. There have been people parking along the encampment and blasting music. One car covered it’s plates and at full speed raced down Broadway back and fourth. I have seen lots of fights. I have not personally seen weapons. It looks like a mini CHOP. But I can tell you that protesters that do the morning & evening March are not part of this group. A few of the people are older protestors that have great concern for peoples rights. They vocally blast this from a megaphone. Then they start shouting at people to join them. Let’s have a conversation. However then they start attacking people from afar in the Building across from the college, They get quite angry. One in particular comes only in the evening. He really is angry with a megaphone. Is this really the best way to protest. Assaulting people. Everyone had their own way of protesting. We have covid. I am immune compromised. I can not come down and have a conversation with people that do not wear masks. I will be safe and sign petitions, contribute money and be vocal on-line. That is my limit.

    I have not seen anyone come in and do anything to make this situation better.

    • Watch how you contribute your money. Bail funds purport to be for protesters yet each time nearly all are released without bail. Nearly all are released the same day as arrest while those charged with felonies are released within 2 days. Yet people keep collecting “bail” money. One such scam on Nextdoor claimed that 100+ protesters had been arrested the night before, yet the jail register showed less than 40 people arrested in the prior 48 hours all across city from DUI to homicide but no protesters. There are scams popping up all over the place. Give your money to a legit organization.

    • I live in the building across the street and I did go down to talk with one of the guys who talks to us through the megaphone. It was a very nice and civil conversation, and I think we’re both better for it.

      One thing I noticed while being down there and meeting people is that the group is not homogeneous There are many different types of people down there from those with serious drug problems to those who were on the margins of society (but holding it together, barely) before covid and then found themselves homeless and without a way to collect the emergency relief fund/unemployment. It is not an ideal situation for sure, but I hope that the college works to ensure the chop 2.0 residents have somewhere else to go when everyone is inevitably displaced from the area.

  3. This is what district 3 voted for, live with it. You say the police are bad but then you want them to clean up what you don’t like. You don’t get it both ways. I support SPD and proud to say it!

  4. I did NOT vote for Sawant and I support the police every step of the way. What I disagree with is that some of the businesses are asking you to round up your purchases and the money goes to an organization who wants to defund the police. If you don’t round up you’re treated like dirt. Any business who does round ups doesn’t get my business. Round up to clean up is so much better.

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