Updates on protests for racial justice in the Seattle area (June 15-21)
This post is archived. Read the latest here.
Demonstrations and protests for racial justice continue in Western Washington.
- After Seattle police retreated from the East Precinct, leaving it empty and boarded up, protesters began blocking off an area around it on Capitol Hill, first naming it CHAZ (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone), and then renaming it CHOP (Capitol Hill Organized Protest).
- The rallying cry has been to defund the police. Here's what that means.
MONDAY, JUNE 22
Attorney General Barr comments on CHOP
8 a.m. -- Attorney General William Barr talked about the CHOP on FOX News Sunday. He said, like many of the protests, it seems to have been hijacked by professional agitators.
"Protests and demonstrations are fine, but when they become mob violence we need to restore public order. We can't be ruled by mobs, we have to be ruled by the legal process."
Barr said he has a duty to protect the federal rights of Americans.
When asked if he would sue the city or Mayor Jenny Durkan to protect those rights Barr would only say the President is keeping an eye on things and that he can't let this go on indefinitely.
"There's obviously legitimate demonstrators out there raising concerns about police abuse. But, a lot of these demonstrations have been hijacked by, essentially, anarchistic groups and professional agitators who are really in it just for the violence and confrontation."
Sunday night shooting victim was treated and released
6:30 a.m. -- The person who was shot Sunday night on Capitol Hill was a 17-year old male, according to spokesperson for Harborview Medical Center.
Susan Gregg said the person was brought in about 11 p.m. and treated and released.
The shooting was reported to have occurred in or near the area known as CHOP. Police did not release an exact address, but an aid response was reported at Harvard Avenue and East Pine Street, a couple blocks from Cal Anderson Park.
Gregg said a 33-year-old man shot in another incident Saturday remained in critical condition in intensive care at Harborview. Another person, 19-year-old man, was killed in that shooting.
SUNDAY, JUNE 21
Another shooting in the CHOP
11:30 p.m. -- One person has been sent to Harborview Medical Center with a gunshot wound after another shooting reported in the CHOP in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.
Seattle police report that they are investigating the incident, and that there may have been another shooting Sunday evening -- potentially making it the second such incident on Sunday, and the third over the weekend.
CHOP group releases statement about recent shooting and superheroes
1 p.m. -- A Twitter page calling itself the "official" Capitol Hill Occupied Protest released a statement Sunday saying that it is echoing Councilmember Kshama Sawant's suspicions that white supremacists are responsible for the recent shooting in the CHOP; noting appreciation for Mayor Jenny Durkan; and rejecting superheroes on the protest zone.
The group states that they approve an assessment from Councilmember Sawant "blaming the shooting on white supremacist violence." Sawant's recent statement doesn't mention white supremacists, but does fall short of blaming the incident on a "right-wing attack."
"Though we await confirmation of the details of the killing, there are indications that this may have been a right-wing attack," Sawant says in her statement before continuing to point the finger at President Trump and the media for negative depictions of the CHOP. "If this killing turns out to be a right-wing attack, President Trump bears direct responsibility, since he has fomented reactionary hatred specifically against the peaceful Capitol Hill occupation, and even threatened to intervene with federal troops."
The statement also says that while the group supports calls for Mayor Durkan's resignation, they appreciate the mayor allowing activists in the CHOP to investigate the shooting themselves.
Finally, they announced that the CHOP's security volunteers will no longer allow access to the area from superheroes. Seattle superhero Phoenix Jones has been spotted in the area, seemingly coming out of retirement to patrol the CHOP. The group does say that "members of 'superhero movements' are welcome to apply and join regular CHOP security forces."
It should be noted that it is unknown who is behind the Twitter account. Many groups have formed within the CHOP and make their own statements. Other activists in the protest zone refer to it as the "Capitol Hill Organized Protest" instead of "occupied" protest.
Voices of CHOP aims to fix common concerns
Noon -- According to the Twitter account "Voices of CHOP," some volunteers and activists are concerned that certain activities within the protest zone are taking away from the Black Lives Matter message. They are proposing solutions to ongoing issues, including:
- Setting up "safe use" areas for drugs and alcohol near the perimeter of the protest zone.
- Establishing protest hours at CHOP from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. This would allow activists time to rest and reduce the number of people in the area overnight, lessening the demands on security and overnight volunteers. And also, keeping the noise level down overnight.
- They would like to organize better communication methods than using social media.
A statement from the Voices of CHOP states that "no organizations, protests, or revolutions are perfect .... We do not want to see what was started with the intention of lifting the BLM message destroyed before us all. We want to learn and react now."
The statement concludes: "We want to take back the purpose of this all. We want to raise the correct message. We developed a space that could accomplish this. A hub for organizing, learning, and protesting. Before it is all dismantled from inside out or vice versa, let's make a collective effort to change. Let's grow from this. Sincerely, Activists and Volunteers of C.H.O.P."
The first tweet from Voices of CHOP was made at 3:56 a.m. on June 21. The Twitter page immediately received skepticism over its validity. The account has been responding to those criticisms. The group stated they would hold a meeting on Sunday at 2 p.m. to discuss the concerns. That meeting was live streamed. They plan to hold more meetings moving forward.
Man remains in critical condition following shooting
10 a.m. -- A 33-year-old man remains in critical condition in the intensive care unit at Harborview Medical Center after a shooting in the CHOP in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood over the weekend. Read more details about the incident below.
One other victim was involved in the shooting. They passed away shortly after the incident.
SATURDAY, JUNE 20
10:00 p.m. President Donald Trump used part of his campaign speech in Tulsa, Oklahoma today to criticize Seattle's handling of protests here. He specifically addressed the Capitol Hill Organized Protest area.
"In Seattle, the Democrat mayor and the Democrat city council have surrendered control of six city blocks," he said. "You listen to the fake news they're like, 'Oh, the protesters are lovely.' Can you imagine if protesters just slightly to the right took over Seattle?"
Activists return to the CHOP
3:30 p.m. After two shootings at Cal Anderson Park early Saturday that left one person dead and another in critical condition, activists returned to the CHOP today.
People laid flowers on the spot where the 19 year old man was killed.
Hundreds gathered in the park talking about security concerns.
Others milled about, grilling barbecue.
Anne Marie Otanez visited the CHOP today and said she and her partner felt safe walking around.
“It's very encouraging to see all kinds of people coming together" said Otanez. "Hopefully it will move the needle and there's going to be a change.”
CHOP organizers said they want to implement more security going forward.
One CHOP leader said they'll vote today on a council to appoint more security in order to prevent future shootings.
Mayor Durkan, Gov. Inslee addresses shooting in the CHOP
1 p.m. Mayor Jenny Durkan's office spokesperson Kelsey Nealand said when asked about last night's shooting that "the Mayor has been in close contact with Chief Scoggins, Chief Best and SPD regarding incidents on Capitol Hill and West Seattle. The primary duty of the Seattle Fire Department and Seattle Police Department is to ensure public safety in all parts of the City."
"I just know that we have to be able to respond when there are injuries. Now if that is not the case right now then we need to explore some other option in that regard because that is something the state obviously needs to see happen."
Governor Jay Inslee said Saturday that the state can support the city, if asked. When asked by a reporter whether he should do something to get police back in East Precinct and surrounding area, Inslee took a back seat to the city of Seattle.
"As far as what happens in the precinct, that's really a decision for the city of Seattle," he said. "We have to have a way to provide police services and fire services in that area. Now whether it's from that building or using some other building or mobile command posts or something else, that's for the city to figure out."
The governor said, however, that it is in the state's interest to be sure police and fire departments can reach injured people, when necessary.
SPD provides account of shooting in the CHOP
11 a.m. Seattle police provided more information on the investigation and events surrounding shootings in the CHOP overnight.
A post on the Seattle Police Department Blotter states that officers responded inside the CHOP around 2:30 a.m. after reports of shots fired in Cal Anderson Park.
"Officers attempted to locate a shooting victim but were met by a violent crowd that prevented officers safe access to the victims. Officers were later informed that the victims, both males, had been transported to Harborview Medical Center by CHOP medics," the statement reads.
"Officers responded to Harborview and were informed that one of the victims, a 19-year-old male, had died from injuries. The other victim, also a male, unknown age, remains in the hospital with life-threatening injuries."
Police said no one is in custody.
"The suspect or suspect(s) fled and are still at large. There is no description at this time."
Seattle police ask that anyone with information about the shooting reach out to the Seattle Police Department’s Violent Crime tip line at 206-233-5000.
Shooting at the CHOP
8:30 a.m. One person is dead and another in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center after early-morning gun violence in the CHOP.
The Seattle Police Department confirmed on Twitter that they are "investigating shooting at 10th Avenue and East Pine."
Live video from Omari Salisbury and Converge Media captured the chaotic scene. It shows volunteers trying to help treat at least one victim. It also captures the tense moment when a small group of police enter the zone reportedly to transport a victim to Harborview who had already been taken by the volunteer medics.
--Jill Jackson and Paige Browning
2:00 p.m. Families whose loved ones were killed by police in Seattle, Kent, Auburn, and Pierce and King County spoke at a rally at Seattle's Judkins Park, organized by Not This Time. Community members and elected officials described the next steps they want to see to rethink policing and provide more oversight.
11:30 a.m. -- A view from CHOP this morning:
THURSDAY, JUNE 18
Racism is a public health crisis, declares King County Board of Health
3:55 p.m.-- King County Board of Health approved a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis. The county joins more than 20 cities and counties across the country that approved similar declarations.
Three decades of research shows Blacks overall have higher rates of negative health outcomes such heart disease and diabetes. Life expectancy for Blacks is four years lower compared to the rest of the American population.
In a statement following today's vote, Board of Health Chair Joe McDermott said, "The strain of racism that Black, indigenous and other people of color in our community live with every day leads to differences in health and well-being, opportunities for employment, education, and housing, and truly is a public health crisis. Our action today places anti-racism, already a cornerstone of the work of Seattle-King County Department of Public Health, at the foundation of the Board’s policies and programs that reach across every community in Martin Luther King Jr. County.”
-Ruby de Luna
Charleena Lyles vigil
9:30 a.m. -- A vigil for Charleena Lyles is planned for 6-9 p.m. Thursday at Magnuson Park, not far from where she was killed by Seattle police officers in 2017.
The vigil is organized by Seattle Democratic Socialists of America. They have a series of demands associated with the vigil. Read more details here.
WSP takes over Manuel Ellis case
9 a.m. -- The Washington State Patrol is now taking over the investigation into the death of Manuel Ellis at the order of Governor Jay Inslee.
He was killed back in March while being restrained by Tacoma police officers. The State Attorney General will ultimately decide if the officers involved in his homicide will face charges
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office had been investigating the death, but that review was abruptly halted last week after it was discovered that sheriff’s deputies were on the scene when Ellis was killed.
Initiative 940, passed by voters in 2018, prevents police agencies from investigating themselves. The discovery, by the sheriff’s office, came more than three months after Ellis was killed.
Friday demonstrations in Seattle for Juneteenth
8:30 a.m. -- Black Lives Matter activists are getting ready for a day of demonstrations on Friday -- Juneteenth, a day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
A rally called "The Next Steps" is organized by Andre Taylor who’s brother Che Taylor was killed by Seattle police four years ago.
“Black, white, brown, coming together, being educated on the particular things that have been an impediment to our change,” Taylor said.
Taylor says after weeks of peaceful protests in Seattle, it’s time to move on to discussing specific police reforms in the city.
“After the March, what do you do? What are the next steps after the March? That's what we will talk about. That's what you would be educated about.”
Multiple speakers will be at the event including Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Congresswoman Pramilia Jayapal.
The rally starts at 1 p.m. at Judkins Park.
An event called "Juneteenth blackout at the CHOP" is also planned at the occupied area on Capitol Hill. The event has a series of activities planned throughout the day, including breakfast, meditation and yoga, and an evening dance party.
10 days at the CHOP
CHOP evolves on Capitol Hill
CHOP evolves on Capitol Hill
8 a.m. -- Thursday marks 10 days since protesters in Seattle have occupied several city blocks on Capitol Hill -- an area known as the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest.
Thousands of people visit '"The CHOP" every afternoon to participate in marches and teach-ins about modern day racism and police violence.
But there's growing concern within the local Black Lives Matter movement that it's taken on too much of a festival vibe.
"To see what it is now, it looks like a parade, right? But before, these numbers weren't here. The amount of people here now weren't here fighting with us. Period."
Resident Christeen Gounder tells people to leave if they aren't there to protest.
Protesters are demanding cuts to the Seattle Police budget and more. Meanwhile, city officials have not said how they plan to reclaim the several blocks in the CHOP.
SPOG ousted from King County labor council
7 a.m. -- The King County labor council threw out the Seattle police officers union in a contentious vote Wednesday night.
The decision comes amid protests around the country against police brutality that have highlighted the role police unions play in maintaining the status quo.
About 55 percent of delegates to the umbrella council, called MLK Labor, voted to expel the Seattle Police Officers Guild.
The vote could increase pressure on elected officials in Seattle to hold police more accountable in future contracts.
-- David Hyde
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 17
Tacoma police consider changes to choke hold, excessive force policies
9:30 a.m. -- Tacoma Police Chief Don Ramsdell says he's looking to ban his officers from using chokeholds and strangle holds. He also wants officers to be required to intervene if another uses excessive force.
The proposed plans are part of an ongoing department review in light of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis, and also Manuel Ellis who died in March while being restrained by Tacoma police officers.
New video recently released by the Ellis family attorney shows one officer using a chokehold on Ellis prior to his death.
A future without a youth jail
9 a.m. -- King County Executive Dow Constantine says he sees a future where the county's youth detention facility could be converted for other uses. But we're not there yet.
"I think we can get to the point where we have enough community-based alternatives, some of which might include the ability to keep someone from wandering off, but community-based alternatives that we can turn that facility over to other uses," Constantine said.
Constantine says the county is using a public health approach to reach a goal of zero youth detention. And he says the county's plan can move along faster if the community gets fully behind it .
Closing the county's incarceration unit is one of the demands being made by Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County as people continue to call for racial justice and an end to police violence.
Among other things, they want the county to turn the facility into a community resource, and reallocate the budget slated for jailing youth to education, housing and other programming.
Will Mayor Jenny Durkan sign the tear gas ban?
Will Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan approve the Council's tear gas ban?
Will Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan approve the Council's tear gas ban?
8:30 a.m. -- Seattle police will soon be banned from using choke holds -- following the killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Manuel Ellis in Tacoma.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan says she will support the ban on choke holds. But another new ordinance in Seattle, on tear gas, is facing tougher scrutiny.
Tear gas has been used in Seattle for crowd control. Most recently, it was used during protests for racial justice -- a move that has drawn sharp criticism. The City Council approved the outright ban on Monday, and is waiting for Mayor Durkan's signature. But Durkan is not committing to signing a ban on tear gas just yet.
Durkan, Police Chief Carmen Best, and the Seattle Police Officers Guild (the city's police union) have expressed hesitation about taking away those crowd control weapons.
In a statement, Mayor Durkan says she needs to review the use of crowd control weapons, as well as research which indicates that officers might use deadly force on people more often if they don't have gas and flash bang grenades at their disposal.
Durkan has about a week to make a decision on whether to sign the tear gas ban.
Snapshot of racial disparities in Washington
8 a.m. -- Black workers still fall behind when it comes to the workforce and pay in America. For example, while Black Americans make up 13% of the population, they only account for 3.2% of executive or senior level positions.
In an attempt to find out which states are making more progress on the issue, an assessment by WalleyHub found that Washington edges into the top 10 states with most racial equality.
Washington ranks 10th. WalletHub considered a range of factors, including home ownership rates, annual earnings, poverty rates, share of executives, among others.
Washington falls behind (from first to ninth): New Mexico; Alaska; Arizona; Hawaii; Texas, Colorado; Montana; Vermont; and Delaware.
While it's a small pat on the back, there is still a lot of work to do on the issue. There remains great wealth disparities between white and black families. A Seattle Times assessment found that the median net worth of a white family in Seattle is more than $450,000, whereas a Black family is $23,000. Black families experience far higher rates of poverty and homelessness in King County.
Even the Covid-19 pandemic has brought other disparities to light. The death rate among Black Americans due to the novel coronavirus is three times higher than white Americans.
TUESDAY, JUNE 16
Capitol Hill Trader Joe's will reopen
9:30 a.m. -- A Trader Joe's in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, that announced it was closing its doors indefinitely this week, will reopen according to the Seattle Times.
Employees previously argued that the corporate office retaliated against the store because the workers joined a Black Lives Matter protest. A spokesperson for Trader Joe’s didn't address those claims with the newspaper, but said Friday’s “unexpected closure” was necessary because they didn't have enough people available to run the store
The store is set to reopen after it undergoes a one- to two-week remodel. Staff will be paid in the meantime.
911 calls drop around Capitol Hill protests and CHOP
9 a.m. -- The Seattle Times is reporting police calls near East Precinct have fallen by about 30% since the start of the month when demonstrations over police brutality and racism began locally. Police also boarded up the precinct last week.
The paper says between June 1-12, the number of daily emergency calls dropped from 102 to an average of 70 calls per day.
But the latest figure does not include calls made by officers observing a potential crime in progress since officers have backed off some.
Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, however, says that Capitol Hill is not cop-free. She told reporters Monday that even though they boarded up the East Precinct -- to limit interactions between demonstrators and police -- police are still responding to calls in the area.
Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins also said they're working with protesters on ways to gain access to those who might need help in the CHOP. One way is for demonstrators to bring them to the edges of the area, avoiding possible conflicts with protesters.
Tear gas banned in Seattle
8:30 a.m. -- The Seattle City Council has voted unanimously to ban the police from using tear gas and other “crowd control” devices.
Members also voted to ban police chokeholds. And officers who want to mourn a fallen officer can no longer wear a band across their badge which covers their badge number.
Trump blasts Seattle over the CHOP ... again
8:15 a.m. -- President Trump is once again blasting Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan over the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) saying if they don't do something about it he will.
In lengthy comments Monday the president said he was prepared to intervene if they don’t.
In response to a reporter’s question, President Trump inveighed for four minutes on the topic of CHOP.
“These people have taken over a vast part, a major part, a very good part of a place called Seattle," Trump said, further alleging that the area has turned violent before insulting local officials.
“We have a mayor who’s scared stiff, she doesn’t know what’s happened. We have a governor that’s one of the most overrated politicians in the country, he just ran for president. He got less than one percent.”
Trump says if the local officials don’t take back the area, he will. In response, Inslee’s office says: “The president says a lot of things, most of which never come to fruition.”
Read more details here.
CHOP barriers get upgraded
8 a.m. -- The barriers marking the territory of the CHOP in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood were removed Tuesday morning. They were promptly replaced with new barriers.
The original barriers were a mix of traffic blocks pulled together shortly after the Seattle Police Department retreated from the East Precinct. The new ones are concrete blocks with plywood attached.
The switch was conducted by employees with the Seattle Department of Transportation.
--Anna Boiko-Weyrauch / KUOW
MONDAY, JUNE 15
From CHAZ to CHOP
8:45 a.m. -- Monday marks one week since people took over a six-block area in the Capitol Hill neighborhood -- near Seattle police's now-empty East Precinct.
Now, protesters in the CHAZ have changed the name of the area to the "Capitol Hill Organized Protest."
Cal Anderson Park and the nearby streets are packed with people. Some look like they're involved with the ongoing protests, making speeches and holding signs, and some look like they're just hanging out. More and more, this feels like a block party.
That worries some people in the CHOP who say this is not a festival, this is not a street fair. This is a protest against police brutality. And that message is getting lost among all the food and music.
Activists plan to camp here and say they have no intention of leaving.
Read more details here.
Washington State Patrol chief makes statement on George Floyd
8:30 a.m. -- The chief of the Washington State Patrol is speaking out about the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Black lives do matter and as a black man, as a proud father and a grandfather, I’m very concerned about when I see incidents that occur with George Floyd," Chief John Batiste said. "That could have been me. I have brothers, it could have been any of my brothers. I have grandsons, it could have been one of my grandsons.”
Chief Batiste spoke Friday at the Washington State Patrol Academy. He said law enforcement needs to find ways to build relationships with communities of color.
Batiste is WSP's longest serving chief. He also voiced support for Governor Jay Inslee’s calls for statewide police reform measures.
- Austin Jenkins
Seattle Black clergy in support of Police Chief Carmen Best
8 a.m. -- Black Christian clergy in Seattle say they are angry and upset about black people being killed by the police. But they also stressed their support and trust for Police Chief Carmen Best during a meeting Sunday.
Best thanked the clergy members for their endorsement. She said there’s no specific date for police to return to the East Precinct, but city officials are working on it.
Read more details here.
SUNDAY, JUNE 14
Seattle Police Chief: "Policing will have to change"
3:59 p.m. -- As demonstrators continue to call for massive police reform, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said Sunday that she realizes that policing will have to change.
She made the comments on the CBS News Sunday show, Face the Nation.
“We’re going to change in policing, we have to. It has to be a movement that involves everybody. We need to re-imagine and re-figure out, if you will, how we’re going to move forward as a country and as an organization to make things for everybody," Best told moderator Margaret Brennan.
The chief said she attended Friday’s silent Black Lives Matter demonstration in Seattle and had “an epiphany” when she saw the 60-thousand marchers.
“And I was looking at the 60,000 people that were there. Signs saying “defund the police” and “stop police brutality,” “no qualified immunity,” and there were thousands of people carrying those particular signs. And I just realized, it was a moment, an epiphany, that this is pivotal moment in history. We are going to move in a different direction. Policing will never be the same as it was before," she said.
She declined to offer an opinion about whether police officers should be personally liable for their actions while on the job -- a legal doctrine called “qualified immunity.”
Best said that decision should be handled by lawmakers and the public.
- Derek Wang
SATURDAY, JUNE 13
Hundreds gather for Seattle Children's March
1:35 p.m -- Several hundred parents and children gather at Garfield High School to listen to speeches before beginning a peaceful march in honor of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement. The march will proceed a little under a mile through the Central District and end at the King County Youth Detention Center.
Participants are demanding an end to police brutality and systemic racism in the United States. The march was inspired by the The Birmingham Children’s Crusade of 1963, in Birmingham, Alabama where African American children used non-violent protest in an effort to end segregation in the south.
-- Anna Boiko-Weyrauch and Jim Gates