Updates: Protests for racial justice in the Seattle area (June 28-July 4)
This post is archived. Read the latest here.
Demonstrations and protests for racial justice continue in Western Washington. What to know:
- Around 5 a.m. Wednesday, Seattle police began efforts to clear people from the CHOP zone. Mayor Jenny Durkan issued an emergency order to vacate the area.
- The back story: After weeks of protest, Seattle police retreated from the East Precinct at 11th and Pine on Capitol Hill, 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.
- Deaths and injuries: There have been four shootings, resulting in two deaths, that occurred in or near the CHOP. It is unclear whether the shooters have a connection to the protest. On Saturday, July 4, a motorist sped through a protest on Interstate 5, killing Summer Taylor, a 24-year-old demonstrator, and seriously harming Diaz Love, also part of the demonstration.
SATURDAY, JULY 4
One protester hit by car on I-5 has died; one remains hospitalized.
9:20 p.m. - Harborview spokesperson Susan Gregg announced that one of the victims of the hit-and-run collision on I-5 has died. She wrote, "Summer Taylor, 24, critically injured today after being struck by a vehicle on I-5 in Seattle, has passed away earlier this evening at Harborview Medical Center. Diaz Love, 32, remains serious in intensive care at Harborview."
10:20 a.m. - A 27-year-old Seattle man has been arrested and booked on two possible counts of vehicular assault after he drove into a group of protesters on Interstate 5 in Seattle.
The interstate had been closed to accommodate a group protesting against racism and police brutality. At about 1:40 a.m., the driver, who was in a white Jaguar, sped around the vehicles blocking the freeway, and slammed into the demonstrators, injuring two people. Both victims are in critical condition in intensive care at Harborview. The Washington State Patrol says the driver did not seem to be impaired, and they are investigating his motive.
7:30 a.m. -- A car slammed into two pedestrians who were on a part of I-5 that had been closed for protests during the early morning hours. Two people were transported to Harborview Medical Center, one in critical condition. The driver of the car is in custody. There is no information yet whether the act was intentional. The car appeared to go around the barrier blocking the freeway at Olive way. The incident happened a little after 2 a.m.
FRIDAY, JULY 3
Who was behind the mysterious Twitter account that claimed to represent CHOP leadership but then told protesters to go home?
7 a.m. -- No one knows who was behind that Twitter account, or at least no one we know of. But in its final days, CHOP fought back against fake social media accounts and learned a few lessons, too.
THURSDAY, JULY 2
More protests planned in wake of CHOP
11 a.m. -- While the Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone has been cleared, various groups are planning more protests in other parts of the city.
"Rally For Black Lives - Hold Jenny Accountable" is planned for 7 p.m. on Friday, July 3. According to the event's Facebook page, organizers are planning "a peaceful and loud rally to challenge the complacency of privileged residents of North Seattle and hold their precinct and representatives accountable." The website for Engage Seattle, the event's organizer, states that the event will take place all night long and will include a march to Mayor Jenny Durkan's home. They are calling for her to resign.
"From the Youth Jail to the King County Jail: #FreeThemAll March" is 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on July 3. It will start at the site of King County's new youth jail at 12th and Alder and move to the King County Jail.
Arrested protesters in court
8 a.m. -- Protesters arrested on Capitol Hill Wednesday are expected to make their first court appearance Thursday morning. Officers arrested at least 44 people as they cleared the CHOP.
Some could face assault charges. Others are being charged for possessing unlawful weapons.
Mayor Durkan says that she does not want to see people booked for misdemeanor crimes like "obstruction” and “failure to disperse” to be prosecuted.
"I fully support SPD’s operations this morning, and the arrests and bookings were appropriate," Durkan said on Wednesday. "But as we move forward in healing, alternatives to charging and criminal sanctions are also important."
A spokesman for the City Attorney's Office says they will review evidence in each arrest to "assess the incident and determine appropriate next steps.”
Two dozen people arrested overnight on outskirts of CHOP
7:50 a.m. -- Seattle police say they arrested more people overnight as protests continued near the area known as the CHOP.
SPD said on its blog that 25 people were arrested on charges of failure to disperse, obstructions and assault around Broadway and East Pine.
The area was cleared of protesters early on Wednesday after Mayor Jenny Durkan declared an exclusion zone around Cal Anderson Park and the SPD's East Precinct building.
Police said people in the crowd threw objects at officers, who answered with blast balls and pepper spray -- and arrests.
Video from the scene streamed by Omari Salisbury at Converge Media showed lines of officers armed with batons facing off with protesters (and most of the officers appeared to be wearing masks).
-- Gil Aegerter
WEDNESDAY, JULY 1
Lawyer says SPD refused to grant her access to client during questioning
6 p.m. -- An attorney for one of the protesters arrested on Capitol Hill today says Seattle police refused to give her access to her client while the woman was being questioned.
Aubreanna Inda was one of dozens of people arrested Wednesday for "failing to disperse" as police cleared the Capitol Hill Organized Protest. Inda was also previously injured by a blast ball during the Seattle protests against police brutality in early June. Inda’s attorney Sarah Lippek said Seattle police refused to give her access to her client while she waited outside the West Precinct. She said they told her that Inda was “being interviewed by the FBI,” which assisted in Wednesday’s operation.
“That’s an abrogation of the constitutional right to have an attorney," Lippek said. "And the Seattle police should not be facilitating any interviews with detainees that they know to be represented by lawyers and not allowing lawyers access to speak to them.”
Lippek said what happened was “highly unusual” and she’s concerned it could have a chilling effect on free speech by demonstrators.
SPD did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday evening.
Earlier in the day, a spokesman for the FBI's Seattle field office provided this statement describing their role: "Through our Joint Terrorism Task Force umbrella, we are on the lookout for potential violations of federal law and are able to provide specialized capabilities to assist our partners with today's law enforcement action."
-- Amy Radil
Mayor Durkan and Chief Best announce next steps for CHOP and East Precinct
4 p.m. -- Police arrested more than thirty people as they cleared the Capitol Hill Organized Protest Wednesday.
Mayor Jenny Durkan said some could face charges of assault or possessing unlawful weapons. But many people were booked for misdemeanor crimes of “obstruction” and “failure to disperse." Durkan said at a press briefing she doesn’t want to see those people prosecuted.
“I fully support SPD’s operations this morning, and the arrests and bookings were appropriate,” she said. “But as we move forward in healing, alternatives to charging and criminal sanctions are also important.”
Meawhile, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said her officers are assessing damage to the East Precinct building to determine when they can move back in.
To prevent the protest zone from being reestablished, Best said the mayor’s executive order allows police to maintain a security buffer around the precinct.
“The mayor’s order is in effect for the next ten days and people are not allowed in the area who are not residents or business owners,” Best said.
She said she encourages peaceful protests, but the violence in the CHOP forced police to intervene. Durkan said recent protests at the West Precinct in downtown Seattle have resulted in some property damage but nothing like the situation on Capitol Hill.
Durkan said she and Chief Best will continue to have conversations with community members about the role of the police, as well as “ the greater investment we need to make in Black prosperity, health and brilliance.”
“I’ve been working and talking with Black leaders on a plan to create space on Capitol Hill to support community voices in rethinking and reimagining policing,” Durkan said.
She also thanked longtime activist (and Community Police Commission co-chair) Rev. Harriett Walden for championing the history of the East Precinct, and said Walden will lead an outreach effort about the future of the building.
“I truly believe we can imagine a shared space including a community room in the East Precinct,” Durkan said.
-- Amy Radil
Attorneys release statement on clearing of CHOP
3 p.m. -- The attorneys representing various residents and businesses in Capitol Hill released a statement shortly after the CHOP was cleared Wednesday. The group filed a class action lawsuit arguing that they were being harmed by the existence of the CHOP.
According to the statement:
On June 24, 2020, Calfo Eakes LLP brought a class action lawsuit on behalf of Capitol Hill businesses and residents affected by the City-endorsed occupation of their neighborhood by CHOP. Following the lawsuit, and our letters to the Mayor and the City, we are informed that the Seattle Police Department has moved to clear what was the CHOP by removing city-owned barricades and other obstructions to car traffic. The City is also reportedly removing the enormous amount of debris and other material littering the streets and Cal Anderson Park following the City-sponsored occupation.
This is a first step in restoring lawfulness to this Capitol Hill neighborhood. Let’s not forget, however, that the City’s decisions and endorsement of CHOP occupants over the last several weeks have left what can only be described as wreckage. The City’s violation of our clients’ constitutional rights has resulted in property damage, loss of revenue, and other harm. We hope that the City now steps up to restore the neighborhood and our clients.
12:38 p.m. --
Attorney General Barr comments on Seattle CHOP
Attorney General Barr weighs in on Seattle's CHOP
Attorney General Barr weighs in on Seattle's CHOP
11:30 a.m. -- Attorney General William Barr issued a statement regarding the city of Seattle's action at the CHOP Wednesday morning.
“I commend Police Chief Carmen Best for her courage and leadership in restoring the rule of law in Seattle. For the past several weeks, the Capitol Hill area of Seattle was occupied by protesters who denied access to police and other law enforcement personnel. Unsurprisingly, the area became a haven for violent crime, including shootings that claimed the lives of two young people, assaults, and robberies. As Chief Best made clear throughout the process, there is a fundamental distinction between discussion of substantive issues — including addressing distrust of law enforcement by many in the African-American community — and violent defiance of the law. Chief Best has rightly committed to continue the substantive discussion while ending the violence, which threatens innocent people and undermines the very rule-of-law principles that the protesters profess to defend. Thanks to the Seattle Police Department, Capitol Hill parks, streets, and businesses are again accessible to the people of Seattle, who may travel throughout their city without fear of violence. The people of Seattle should be grateful to Chief Best and her Department for their professional and steadfast defense of the rule of law. 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, and such conduct has no place in a free society governed by law.”
This month, Barr also commented on the issues surrounding recent protests across the nation, saying that while institutions have been explicitly racist in the past, he does not believe that there is systematic racism in modern policing.
"It was never about the east precinct. SPD made it about the precinct..."
11 a.m. -- A group calling themselves "Seattle Black Collective Voice" on Twitter issued a brief statement following the clear out of the CHOP, saying that the protest was never about the East Precinct.
On the scene at the CHOP
8:30 a.m. -- KUOW's Anna Boiko-Weyrauch reports from the CHOP as crews with SDOT clear out the protest area. There have been 23 arrests reported so far.
Update from the CHOP 8:30 a.m. 7-1-20
Update from the CHOP 8:30 a.m. 7-1-20
Update from the CHOP
8 a.m. -- KUOW's Anna Boiko-Weyrauch reports on the scene from the CHOP as police officers clear out the protest area. Listen below.
Update from the CHOP 8 a.m. 7-1-20
Update from the CHOP 8 a.m. 7-1-20
Police Chief Best's statement on clearing the CHOP
7 a.m. -- Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best released a statement about Wednesday morning's action at the CHOP.
Seattle police efforts to clear the CHOP underway
6 a.m.-- Seattle police officers began pushing people out of the CHOP zone early Wednesday morning.
Acting on an emergency order issued by Mayor Jenny Durkan, officers with bikes worked their way back into the area and "did not meet very much resistance" according to Omari Salisbury, speaking on his Converge Media stream.
The move to clear the area comes more than three weeks after the police abandoned their East Precinct after ongoing violent confrontations with protesters after the killing of George Floyd.
There have been four shootings in the CHOP. Two teenagers died from the gunshot wounds.
Seattle police chief Carmen Best said in a statement that while she supports the Black Lives Matter movement, "enough is enough."
"The CHOP has become lawless and brutal. Four shootings- two fatal- robberies, assaults, violence and countless property crimes have occurred in the several block area," she said.
Over the morning, Seattle police tweeted out what was happening in the CHOP, including their arguments for clearing it out.
People in the CHOP had vowed to stay in the area until serious efforts were made to defund the Seattle Police Department.
TUESDAY, JUNE 30
Housing group writes letter asking city to close CHOP
11:30 a.m. -- A low-income community housing group has written city officials arguing that "it is time for the CHOP to close."
Community Roots Housing offers homes to low-income families in Capitol Hill. It operates 13 buildings located around the CHOP. In a letter to city officials, it argues that residents suffered under tear gas and flash bangs deployed by city police before they retreated from the East Precinct.
The letter continues to note that conditions around the neighborhood were peaceful after the police left. But that peace was short lived, according to them.
"But what’s happening in the area now has little to do with the movement for Black lives. Most of the activists have moved on. The park has become an encampment, our residents have been threatened and chased and businesses are being hurt. Families are afraid to go through the area or use the park. Graffiti covers every surface. There have been five shootings. And above all else two young Black men have been killed while one remains in critical condition."
"...We are adamantly supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement and of all Black lives, we are adamantly supportive of deep police reform and leading with compassion instead of guns. But forcing us to choose between anarchy and police brutality is a false dichotomy. Compassion and law-enforcement should not be mutually exclusive. And what’s happening in our neighborhood now is not progressing the movement but impeding it."
The letter was signed by Community Roots CEO Christopher Persons and Executive Director of the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict Donna Moodie.
Read the full letter below.
Closing the CHOP community roots housing
A letter to the city of Seattle from Community Roots Housing, asking the city to close the CHOP.
Seattle closes Cal Anderson Park to assess damage, help memorialize protest art
11:20 a.m. -- Seattle Parks and Recreation announced that it will close Cal Anderson Park at noon Tuesday. The park has been heavily utilized for activity around the CHOP.
Officials with the department have already been present at the park to assist with people experiencing homelessness. On Tuesday, they will focus on litter pickup and assessing the condition of the reservoir at the park. Also, according to the department, crews will "assess damage and clean up areas that have seen significant waste collection. At this time, no changes will be made to the community garden or art installed by demonstrators.
In the future: "SPR will begin to repair damage from newly created fires pits, graffiti, fencing, vehicles on the reservoir, impacts to the lawns and the play field, and other infrastructure."
Parks and Rec also notes that it is working with protesters in an effort to preserve various works of art that have emerged in the CHOP. Officials say that demonstrators began cataloging and removing plywood to preserve art for installations in the future. Parks and Rec, along with the Office of Arts & Culture will be involved with memorializing these parts of the community protest. This work includes the garden that has been planted in the park, as well as a speakers corner at the park.
Protesters rebuild barricade at edge of CHOP
10:15 a.m. -- After SDOT removed barriers at 10th Avenue and Pine Street early Tuesday morning, protesters quickly brought in couches, trash cans, and other items to replace it.
Lawsuit filed against Seattle
10 a.m. -- Two men have filed a lawsuit against Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Gov. Jay Inslee for “abdicating” city property to the protesters of CHOP.
Jacob Bozeman, 57, is an attorney based in Lynnwood, and Austin Bozeman, 26, lives in north Seattle, according to records. They say Seattle provided barricades and barriers for the protesters to hold down the six-block area known as CHOP, or Capitol Hill Occupied Protest. It was previously known as CHAZ.
The Bozemans’ suit says they represent 100 people, although those people are not named in this suit, nor are they listed as residents of CHOP, or Seattle.
They are asking for damages and relief, although neither Bozeman is listed as living in or around CHOP.
Social media posts provide some insight into the plaintiffs and potential motivations. Jacob Bozeman’s Facebook page includes opinions opposing the protesters, Nancy Pelosi, Democrats, and Colin Kapaernik for his choice to kneel. He wrote that he drove to the protest one day and saw barricades “guarded” by “what looks like smkling [sic] white college girls and the occasional black man.”
He also wrote on Facebook that the Black Lives Matter movement’s “membership is based solely on skin color or the culture of victimization.”
SDOT removes some CHOP barriers
9 a.m. -- Seattle police and Seattle Department of Transportation came to the CHOP Tuesday morning and removed barricades at 10th Avenue and Pine Street.
Teen now in "serious" condition
7:30 a.m. -- The 14-year-old boy who suffered bullet wounds in the CHOP Monday morning has moved from "critical condition" to "serious" and remains in the intensive care unit at Harborview Medical Center.
MONDAY, JUNE 29
Gonzalez and Sawant: Blame gun violence in general for this shooting
1:15 p.m. -- Don't blame the CHOP for the recent string of shootings in the protest zone on Seattle's Capitol Hill.
That was the message from Seattle City Council members Lorena Gonzalez and Kshama Sawant at a council briefing Monday.
A shooting early in the morning left a 16-year-old male dead and a 14-year-old male hospitalized.
Gonzalez said gun violence is a public health epidemic across the country and Seattle is no exception.
“And this is not being caused by … a specific zone within our city," she said. "This is, frankly, being caused by unscrupulous gun dealers who allow far too easy access to weapons that are then utilized by people in this way.”
-- Kate Walters
Updated ages for Monday morning's shooting victims
12:06 p.m. -- Seattle police updated information about Monday morning's shooting at the CHOP. A 16-year-old boy died after the shooting, and a 14-year-old boy remains at Harborview Medical Center and is being treated for gunshot wounds.
It was previously reported that an adult male had died after the incident.
SPD Chief Best responds to violence around the CHOP
9 a.m. -- Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best argued Monday morning that people should leave the CHOP if they care about safety.
“It is very unfortunate that we have yet another murder at this area identified as the CHOP,” Best said. “Two African American men, dead, at a place where they claim to be working for Black Lives Matter. But they are gone. They are dead now. And we have had multiple other incidents – assaults, rape, robbery, and shootings."
Best appeared frustrated by the ongoing situation around the CHOP, including the violence and the absence of police at the abandoned East Precinct where the protest zone is focused. She would like police to return to the precinct.
She further commented that it is taking officers about 3.5 times longer to respond to calls in the area around the CHOP, and that a fire station located two blocks away cannot get into the area.
"We are asking that people remove themselves from this area, for the safety of the people," she said. "...they certainly can demonstrate peacefully any place. But they can't hostilely take over a neighborhood and cause crime levels to go up like this. Two men are dead, and a child, a 14-year-old, is hospitalized ... enough is enough here."
Shooting leaves one dead, one injured in CHOP
6:25 p.m. -- One man is dead and another in critical condition after a shooting early Monday morning in Capitol Hill Organized Protest Zone.
This is at least the fourth shooting in or near CHOP since Saturday, June 20.
A spokesperson for Harborview Medical Center’s Emergency Department said a private vehicle brought in the first person at about 3:15 a.m. Seattle Fire Department medics brought the second about 3:30 p.m.
Video streamed by Omari Salisbury on Twitter and Facebook showed a Jeep SUV smashed into a cement barrier. The vehicle reportedly drove through thenearby park before it was fired upon. Bullet holes were visible in the windshield, and the passenger side window was smashed out.
Bystanders told Salisbury that two people inside had been shot.
It was unclear how the shooting unfolded. Police said the shooting was reported near 12th Avenue and Pike Street.
-- Angela King and Gil Aegerter
SUNDAY, JUNE 28
Protesters rally in Magnuson Park, march to confront Mayor Durkan
7:50 p.m. -- Hundreds of protesters gathered for a rally in Magnuson Park ahead of a march planned to culminate at the residence of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. Organizers say they intend to confront the mayor and reiterate three key demands driving local demonstrations:
- Cut funding for the Seattle Police Department by 50%
- Redirect that funding toward support services for Black and brown communities
- Release all protesters taken into custody without filing charges
Sunday's demonstration comes less than a week after Durkan unveiled a proposed budget that would reduce the Seattle Police's funding by $20 million — or 5% of the department's $409 million budget — through the rest of 2020. Durkan last week also directed city staff to produce models illustrating what 20%, 30%, and 50% cuts to the department could look like.
Activist and former City Council candidate Shaun Scott pointed to the killing of Charleena Lyles by Seattle Police officers in 2017, despite the department being under federal oversight since 2012.
"So people have to understand that everything that we're seeing from the police department is them on their best behavior," Scott said, adding that the department "is long past the point of being reformed."
Scott went on to call for the abolishment of the department.
"Seattle Police Department is at this stage a radically unaccountable institution as it has been since its inception," he said. "So we don't want to be in a position where they're going to be able to exact revenge on protesters and continue on with this reign of terror that they've been propagating for the last 150 years in the city of Seattle."
At the time demonstrators descended on the mayor's home, a spokesperson said Durkan was meeting with Police Chief Carmen Best at City Hall.