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What’s next after Seattle Police clear the Capitol Hill protest zone

In an afternoon press conference Mayor Jenny Durkan and SPD Chief Carmen Best answered questions about what could come next as protesters have been swept away from the East Precinct.

“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.”

“I deeply, deeply regret the loss of life,” Durkan said about the two teens gunned down in the protest zone. “I want to meet with the families to express my condolences.”

In an interview with CHS earlier Wednesday, Chief Best told residents and nearby businesses to be prepared for “days” of recovery to reclaim the area and make the zone around the East Precinct and Cal Anderson Park safe again.

Durkan’s executive order to clear the area lasts 10 days and prohibits “gathering in this area as an unlawful assembly” requiring “immediate action from city agencies,” Seattle Police said in an announcement on the order. Residents and workers can access the area.

During the conference, heads of Durkan’s administration including SDOT leader Sam Zimbabwe and Human Services lead Jason Johnson detailed their department’s work in the area.

Zimbabwe said about 35 to 40 workers supported the clearance effort including work to preserve and store art from the protest zone. But SDOT, he said, was “not taking ownership of that in anyway” and would be working with community groups to preserve the art from the zone.


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Johnson meanwhile said that his department’s efforts did not involve a NAV Team sweep of Cal Anderson but that HSD workers have been in the area since last week providing information to campers and helping many find shelter. A number of people who “came to be part of the movement” were experiencing housing instability, Johnson said.

Durkan also repeated her commitment to long-term Black Lives Matter initiatives but no new steps or initiatives were announced. She repeated a commitment to working with “Black leaders” to create a facility dedicated to the community on Capitol HIll.

Durkan said there are hopes for a “shared space” that would create “a community room in the East Precinct.”

Perhaps the mayor’s most important announcements regarded neighborhood businesses and property owners. She 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.

Durkan also said she believes Wednesday misdemeanor arrests for things like obstruction should not be charged and repeated intention to “memorialize” CHOP with art and permanent features in Cal Anderson. Seattle Parks and Recreation superintendent Jesús Aguirre said his workers had been on hand to support some clearance aspects in the park and also collected some plantings from community gardens to be kept in city greenhouse facilities. It’s possible, he said, that a community garden feature might become a permanent part of the park after its clean-up.

While the mayor and her police chief expressed confidence that Wednesday’s police operation had set the path to recovery after “deteriorating conditions and repeated gun violence” brought an end to CHOP, Durkan deferred when asked if it was also time for her to send a stronger message about what the community demands from its police force. Wednesday morning, officers around the perimeter could be seen displaying mourning bands covering their badge numbers, a relatively small infraction but an action in direct violation of promises from both Durkan and Best about how Seattle Police must compose themselves when on the front lines of duty in Seattle.

Durkan said she was not aware that the bands were again an issue. “We will make sure we follow up on that,” Chief Best said. “They should not be covered at any time. If that occurred, we will make sure we follow up. We have plenty of video.”

Best said there will be more information in coming days about when the East Precinct will be able to reopen. Crews were busy adding more plywood to cover art and graffiti and moving cement barriers still at the corner Wednesday afternoon. One worker removed the paint that had temporarily labelled the building the “Seattle People’s Department — East Precinct.”

Meanwhile, protesters continued to gather on the edges of the police perimeter stretching from the north edge of Cal Anderson to E Pine between 12th and Broadway. Best said there had been more than three dozen arrests on the day as of the 2:30 PM press conference. Records show that at least 21 people have been booked for failure to disperse while another nine were booked into jail for obstruction.

UPDATE 6:20 PM: SPD says there have now been 44 arrests:

Seattle Police have made 44 arrests for failure to disperse, assault, obstruction, pedestrian interference and malicious mischief. Police deployed pepper spray during the arrest of an individual who was armed with a metal pole. In a separate incident, an officer used a single less lethal 40mm sponge round on a man who appeared to be brandishing a metal pipe. Mayor Durkan’s Executive Order remains in effect this evening. Officers will disperse groups or individuals as needed, or make arrests, to ensure safety in the area.

“Thank you to those who have complied with the Mayor’s order, and to the Capitol Hill community for letting us continue to serve you,” the brief concludes.

Meanwhile, a group of protesters continues to form at Broadway and Pine while a much larger demonstration was gathering outside the West Precinct.


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DELETED
DELETED
9 months ago

DELETED

Shuffles
Shuffles
9 months ago
Reply to  DELETED

Oh boy do you need to read up on your Capitol Hill history.
You can start here:
http://depts.washington.edu/labhist/maps-race-seattle.shtml

Mutha Mary
Mutha Mary
9 months ago
Reply to  Shuffles

Thanks, Shuffles. School the fool.

Theo
Theo
9 months ago
Reply to  DELETED

I think most people on the Hill agree and simply hold their peace, knowing things will move on.

The black professionals I know resent the assumption held by so many young white kids people here–kids who grew up in rural PNW with openly racist parents and seem just as simple-minded and intolerant in outlook–that the welfare of black Americans depends on kindness and generosity from magnanimous whites beyond what anyone else gets or needs.

Asian Americans in the past experienced racism just as bitter here.

Shuffles
Shuffles
9 months ago

So now we’re back to the CHMOZ – Capitol Hill Military Occupied Zone

Mimi
Mimi
9 months ago
Reply to  Shuffles

Yes:

1.No homeless encampment
2. Graffiti, trash and biohazardous waste left in the park being cleaned up,
3. No excessive noise 24 hours/day
4. Police service restored to the neighborhood if needed. (They would not come during the occupation.)
5. Local businesses restored and safe to re-open.
4. No armed vigilantes serving as judge, jury and executioners.

I’ll take it!

Allen
Allen
9 months ago
Reply to  Shuffles

Many on the Hill are thankful for the return of order. This should have happened weeks ago.

Mutha Mary
Mutha Mary
9 months ago

SPD swept thru the park at 6:30am this morning and pushed many homeless citizens right into the adjoining neighborhoods. Thanks, Carmen. Lame gestures like protecting the garden and the art are no substitute for real, substantive change. Durkan and Best have failed in every possible way.
#BlackLivesMatter #GeorgeFloyd #BreonnaTaylor #ElijahMcClain Yeah.. the list goes on and on and on.

Mimi
Mimi
9 months ago
Reply to  Mutha Mary

How do you feel about the two young black men that were killed in the CHOP? Why not add their names to your list?

Jeremy
Jeremy
9 months ago
Reply to  Mimi

Because that wouldn’t play into their narrative. LOL

Jeremy
Jeremy
9 months ago

Next step…we need a massive anti-graffiti campaign, not just around the former CHOP, but also in a sweeping half-mile radius around CHOP. All that graffiti sends the message that chaos is still OK.

p-patch
p-patch
9 months ago

It’s easy to stand in opposition to almost any social or political position. Actual solutions to real problems are much, much harder to come by. I’m hopeful policing in this city is improved and reformed. I’m hopeful #BLM leaves a lasting mark on our collective conscience which leads to real social and economic improvements and an undoing of centuries of injustice. This may be a pipe-dream, but now is the time for city leadership to stop with the speeches and start with the doing of things. Anything! Get off the soapbox, open it up and start cleaning up this mess. We elected you to lead! We’ve got the complaining covered, so show us the policies please!

John M Feit
9 months ago

City leadership should use the time that it will take to get the East Precinct to full operations to re-imagine what that precinct should be, and once fully operational, mark that moment as the beginning of the evolution of not only that station, but of policing in Seattle.. The city should pause and take seriously the opportunity between building’s current closure and anticipated reopening to envision how some of the concerns expressed the past 3 ½ weeks could be reflected in the repairs to the building. How could revisions to the exterior of the station – including the buildings entrances, landscape, colors, and signage – present to the neighborhood plans for a new path forward? Could some of the art created during CHOP be preserved and even displayed in the station? Could the interiors of the precinct – although most likely unaffected by the closure – house new uses and approaches to policing? It will take much, much more than a fresh coat of paint and new signs to make progress – but it is a start. We should see this closure and reopening as a watershed moment and take every advantage it presents.

Tina
Tina
9 months ago
Reply to  John M Feit

X 2–great ideas.

Susi Stuart
Susi Stuart
9 months ago
Reply to  John M Feit

So, don’t change anything about the actual police but take stolen protester art and put it in the police station for ~aesthetic purposes~.

This has to be satire.