CHOP on stage? 11th & Pine ‘documentary theatre performance’ sees first light with readings at Capitol Hill’s Erickson Theatre

Have the wounds from the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests and CHOP’s time on Capitol Hill healed?

This weekend, playwright and University of Washington professor Nikki Yeboah’s work examining the aftermath of the protests will take the stage with Sound Theatre Company’s reading of 11th & Pine at the neighborhood’s Erickson Theatre:

Several years after the 2020 protests against police violence that ushered in a racial awakening across the nation, a deposed protest leader sends out a call to fellow activists. Her goal? To reconstruct the occupation she led in her city. As they relive moments both utopian and excruciating, the activists find the task of explaining what happened is not so simple. Did they succeed? Did they fail? How will they be remembered? Meanwhile, old tensions resurface and the group contends with powerful opponents who want to tell the story in their own way. Based on interviews with Seattle’s Capitol Hill Occupied Protestors, 11TH & PINE explores the impact of organized protest, asking “can we make a difference, and if so, at what cost?”

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Seattle Black Lives Matter at School ‘week of action’ includes School Board protest over ethnic studies, cops on campuses

Black History Month in Seattle will again begin with a Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action including a protest of the School Board calling for the system to defend its ethnic studies programs and continue work to rely on “counselors not cops” to foster student safety.

Organized by educator and activist Jesse Hagopian, the weeks of action have become an annual part of Black History Month in Seattle and beyond. The 2023 events include the planned protest and more: Continue reading

‘Justice for Tyre Nichols’ protest marches from Capitol Hill

A group of protesters gathered in Cal Anderson Park and marched to the Space Needle and back Friday night in a demonstration against police as video of the deadly beating of Tyre Nichols by officers in Memphis was released.

The protest was announced via social media and a television news helicopter circled above the Capitol Hill park to cover the small demonstration involving a few dozen participants. No significant property damage was reported on Capitol HIll during the march which ended with the group gathering for a short time outside the East Precinct where Black Lives Matter protests stretched out during and after CHOP, replaced by months of anti-police protests through 2020 and into 2021. Continue reading

Trial delayed again for East Precinct cop’s brother in CHOP protest shooting

The trial of Nikolas Fernandez has again been delayed.

The King County Prosecutor’s office said earlier this month it needed more time to prepare its case against Fernandez in the June 7, 2020 shooting that injured a protester in the middle of a Black Lives Matter demonstrations at 11th and Pine.

The trial is now slated for a late February start.

It has been a long path to justice in the shooting. The case was supposed to come to trial a year ago in February 2022 after delays caused by the by the assignment of a new prosecutor and the “large number of outstanding interviews” required to try the case. Continue reading

Inquest: Seattle Police shooting of Charleena Lyles justified

A poster hung during the CHOP protests on Capitol Hill

Two Seattle police officers were justified in fatally shooting Charleena Lyles, an inquest jury found Wednesday.

The decision ended a painful legal process examining the decisions by the two Seattle police officers who shot and killed the pregnant, Black mother inside her apartment in the summer of 2017. Lyles was carrying a knife and suffering a mental crisis when the shooting occured. Continue reading

With only one org stepping forward, Seattle selects administrator for $30M participatory budgeting process born out of 2020 protests

Seattle found only one candidate to run the city’s new $30 million participatory budgeting process. They got the job.

The Office of Civil Rights announced that a bid from the national Participatory Budgeting Project advocacy group has been selected to serve as the third-party administrator on the newly formed effort to shape a $30 million package hoped to address inequity by creating a system of more direct control of community spending in Seattle.

“Although we had hoped for more applicants, we were pleased to see a proposal from PBP, who were engaged in the application process and showed a deep understanding and experience with a community led PB process,” the announcement reads.

CHS reported here last summer on the Seattle City Council’s decision to pursue growing the city’s Participatory Budgeting resources under the Office of Civil Rights, breaking a logjam over what department might lead the effort forward.

The initiative was born along with the Black Brilliance Research Project out of 2020’s Black Lives Matter protests in Seattle. The $30 million falls under a $100 million package earmarked to address equity in the city by then-Mayor Jenny Durkan during 2020’s unrest in the city. Continue reading

‘Capitol Hill Community Center’ — Times reports on Seattle’s short-lived plan to transfer the East Precinct before CHOP formed

June 13th, 2020 (Image: CHS)

In late June of 2020, the few local media including CHS on the ground at the CHOP occupied protest around Cal Anderson and the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct at 12th and Pine reported on a Friday night meeting in the middle of the demonstrations held at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church and attended by activists, city officials, and then Mayor Jenny Durkan.

Included in the talks as officials discussed addressing demands over equity and police brutality in the wake of the George Floyd murder were ideas around the future of the East Precinct building itself. Five days later, Seattle Police would raid and clear chop under order from Durkan.

New reporting by the Seattle Times shows that the city was already considering options for the East Precinct weeks earlier before the CHOP camps formed that included handing over the building to Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County, an advocacy group that formed during the unrest of 2020 and presented the city with a roster of demands hoped to help quiet the streets after a week of heavy protest in Seattle in early June 2020. Though BLMSKC was not directly involved in organizing the largest protests that week, many activists were also calling for creating a “Capitol Hill Community Center” in the building with mutual aid, health, and care resources. Continue reading

‘Say Her Name’ — City of Seattle settles Charleena Lyles wrongful death lawsuit

Her name has echoed through the streets of the city since the Black mother of four was shot to death by two Seattle Police officers in the summer of 2017.

Lawyers representing the family of Charleena Lyles have announced a $3.5 million settlement in their wrongful-death lawsuit against the City of Seattle.

“Those children need to know that their mother should not have died,” an attorney representing the family said during a press conference Tuesday. “She did nothing that should have led to her death. She should have received compassion. She should have received resources. She should have received assistance.”

The police killing of Lyles sparked deep debate over SPD’s use of deadly force against people of color and handling of people suffering mental crisis. Her name became a rallying cry for Black Lives Matter marches and during the CHOP occupied protest on Capitol Hill as thousands called for justice in the case. Continue reading

‘The Guardian of Seattle,’ Dan Gregory has hopes for Carnegie Medal — Fernandez trial set for 2022

Dan Gregory

Dan Gregory, the unarmed man shot as he tried to disarm the brother of an East Precinct officer who drove into a Black Lives Matter demonstration crowd at 11th and Pine in the summer of 2020 protests on Capitol Hill, said Wednesday he is being nominated for the Carnegie Medal, an award presented for acts of extraordinary heroism.

Gregory made the announcement Wednesday morning on the air with John Richards on KEXP where Gregory now works as a security guard.

The court case of the shooter in the incident, meanwhile, is now scheduled to begin trial early in the new year. Continue reading

‘Best decisions they could’ — Office of Police Accountability clears chief and SPD brass in decision to leave the East Precinct

Best at a CHOP press conference in 2020 (Image: CHS)

The process of investigating the events of 2020, its months of unrest, and the formation of the CHOP protest zone on Capitol Hill moved forward Monday with another report finding no violations — and no blame — for Seattle Police decisions that contributed to the crisis.

Monday, the department’s Office of Police Accountability released its report exonerating former Chief Carmen Best and an assistant chief in the summer 2020 decision to clear out the East Precinct headquarters at 12th and Pine.

“Following the evacuation, OPA received complaints alleging the Chief failed to take responsibility for her command by ordering—or allowing through her designee—the evacuation of SPD personnel from the East Precinct,” a press release from the OPA on the findings reads. “That the Chief delegated to her Assistant Chief, who opted to de-escalate by withdrawing personnel to a safer location, was not a violation of law or SPD policy.”

In the statement, OPA director Andrew Myerberg said complaints “further alleged the evacuation led to the establishment of CHOP/CHAZ and a subsequent period of lawlessness in the area” but that his investigation “found no consensus within SPD command or the Mayor’s Office that opening the streets around the East Precinct—and the ensuing evacuation of personnel—would result in the establishment of CHOP/CHAZ.”

Myerberg, instead, said Chief Best and her assistant chief “made the best decisions they could under high-stress, unprecedented circumstances.” Continue reading