The first day of the second half of 2020 on Capitol Hill. From 5am to 1am. A reclamation. An armed occupation. Boots on rainbows. Barricades, checkpoints, and violence. Here we go. Again. Whose streets? pic.twitter.com/k6vWQVSOHH
— branon ☂️ (@branonlyle) July 2, 2020
There are nights of police lines and protester standoffs, explosions and pepper spray again in the core of Capitol Hill. The first night after Seattle Police and the city sweeping back in to retake the East Precinct and clear the Capitol Hill protest zone from Pike/Pine and Cal Anderson Park brought a new version of the ongoing tensions over demonstrations in the city.
The scale for now is much smaller. A crowd of dozens of protesters that began to form at Broadway and Pine’s rainbow crosswalk from the first moments after Wednesday’s early morning raid clashed with police as the overnight brought another dispersal order and then pepper spray and arrests. SPD reports another 25 people were arrested “for failure to disperse, assault, and obstructing.” The city’s ban on crowd control weapons isn’t set to take effect until later this month.
Smaller crowds also formed during the night at different points along the large perimeter police are maintaining around the precinct and park.
Other aspects of the night were familiar. The smaller crowd of dozens of protesters split at one point for the group to continue its nightly march to the West Precinct and I-5 between 520 and I-90 was also closed at one point overnight due to concerns over the demonstrators entering the freeway. UPDATE: Protesters are also said to be planning to continue nightly — and controversial — demonstrations outside Mayor Jenny Durkan’s Northeast Seattle home.
The night also brought explosions though not from the police flash bangs utilized in the large protests outside the East Precinct at 11th and Pine last month. Large fireworks were reported by nearby residents through the night, some lighting the sky above Cal Anderson while others boomed and echoed loudly off the area’s apartment buildings.
UPDATE 9:30 AM: Thursday morning just before 9:30 AM, SPD reported it was engaged in a car chase after a “possible homicide suspect” sped away from near Madison and Broadway. The suspect in a Nissan Pathfinder was chased through the streets of Capitol Hill at high speeds onto southbound I-5 with at least three SPD-involved collisions reported. The suspect reportedly ran from his vehicle on I-5 near the James exit and attempted to flee on foot but was taken into custody. Three lanes of I-5 northbound just north of the convention center were reported closed during the response. We do not yet know if the suspect is involved with either of the two deadly shootings at the CHOP.
— Tonio (@tonioalucema) July 2, 2020
Demonstrators at Broadway and Pine moving into exclusion zone. Police giving multiple warnings to move back.
— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) July 2, 2020
— ☂️ Joey Wieser ☂️ (@itsjosephryan) July 2, 2020
Those protesters arrested overnight join 44 taken into custody during the SPD sweep and subsequent clashes with small groups as the area from the north end of Cal Anderson and E Pine between Broadway and 12th Ave was cordoned off and lined with police Wednesday morning. City officials have said that misdemeanor arrests during the protests should not be charged by the City Attorney’s office.
Thursday morning, small crowds were again reported in the area.
Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Jenny Durkan explained her executive order to sweep out CHOP following a wave of violence and two deadly shootings and said she would not again allow a camp to form.
“We will be guided by each situation as it presents itself,” Durkan said about the possibility of protesters returning to 12th and Pine or turning their attention to another area of the city. There will not, they said, be another “situation like Capitol Hill.”
Thee City of Seattle’s Human Services Department has also been documenting its work to provide services to the many homeless people who joined the activist camp though many campers could be seen dragging their belongings through the street in the minutes following Wednesday morning’s operation to clear the area..
SPD Chief Carmen Best told CHS locked-down area could remain in place for days as the city cleans up the streets and Cal Anderson and SPD prepares to move back into the East Precinct headquarters at 12th and Pine. Crews were reported erecting a new chain-link barrier fence outside the building and adding new plywood.
Wednesday’s clearance was also drawing praise. Seattle Police Union head Mike Solan said he was “thankful that the reasonable Seattle citizens got their city back from the failed experiment of CHAZ/CHOP which held us all hostage with crime.” Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., the White House was also celebrating the “liberation of Seattle.”
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany opens her press briefing Wednesday by saying, "I am pleased to inform everyone that Seattle has been liberated." pic.twitter.com/76rdhDVVOv
— Joe Veyera (@JoeVeyera) July 1, 2020
Building residents and workers at businesses and offices inside the zone, meanwhile, are reporting some challenges in entering the area as SPD officers are sometimes asking to check identification as people pass back and forth.
Durkan said she is asking her Office of Economic Development to “see what resources we can provide as quickly as we can” to support repair, clean-up, and reopening as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Durkan said she has also directed the City Attorney to expedite payment of any claims — though she added any claims already in court may take longer.
Meanwhile, any business now reopening as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted now face the prospect of operating inside yet a new challenge: a temporary — hopefully — Capitol Hill police zone.
UPDATE: CHS’s Justin Carder appeared Thursday morning on Converge Media’s Morning Update Show to discuss the latest developments:
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