Police in Seattle are under orders to clear out the CHOP areas, and so far, as of Wednesday morning, July 1, dozens of arrests have been made.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) gave the direction to the Seattle Police Department (SPD) to move protesters from the “autonomous” zone, known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP), where protesters have been stationed for several weeks, protesting against police brutality and systemic racism.
The decision by the mayor came after recent violence by the group, which resulted in two fatalities from gunshots, and other incidences reported by police of shootings, robberies, and assaults.
The mayor issued an executive order to clear the area, citing “several gun violence incidents—two of which resulted in the loss of life—hostile crowds, the inability of emergency personnel to move quickly and efficiently in the area due to the barriers, narcotics use, and violent crime—including rape, robbery, and assault—increased gang activity, business harassment, noise disturbances, property damage, open fires, and ongoing violations of the Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Code of Conduct.”
BREAKING: Seattle Police retake CHAZ pic.twitter.com/GOb9JKigIG
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) July 1, 2020
Police Chief Carmen Best is in support of peaceful protests but said, “Enough is enough. The CHOP has become lawless and brutal.”
Best said in a statement on Wednesday that police “will be in the area this morning enforcing the Mayor’s order.”
— Joseph Suttner (@josephsuttner) July 1, 2020
SPD has provided updates on social media throughout the morning’s recovery process, reported Breitbart.
“Officers enforcing today’s order are wearing a higher-level of protective gear,” the department noted. “Police are utilizing this equipment because individuals associated w/the CHOP are known to be armed and dangerous/may be associated with shootings, homicides, robberies, assaults &other violent crimes”:
Attorney General William Barr praised Best and the department in a statement Wednesday, saying the CHOP area “became a haven for violent crime.”
“The message of today’s action is simple but significant: The Constitution protects the right to speak and assemble freely, but it provides no right to commit violence or defy the law,” Barr said.
Police announced on Twitter that at least 31 arrests, had been made, for failure to disperse, obstruction, resisting arrest, and assault.
As of 7:45 AM, officers have made 23 arrests in the #CHOP zone for failure to disperse, obstruction, resisting arrest, and assault. One of the arrestees, a 29-year-old man, was in possession of a large metal pipe and kitchen knife when he was taken into custody. pic.twitter.com/12qT7psBQQ
— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) July 1, 2020
“One of the arrestees, a 29-year-old man, was in possession of a large metal pipe and kitchen knife when he was taken into custody,” the department noted.
The police formed lines along the streets, many dressed in riot gear, and some on bikes, they pushed the protesters back as they cleared the area.
Most protesters left as police began clearing the area, removing the barricades and clearing away the trash.