Seattle’s Capital Hill district has been the site of one of the more bizarre scenes in the United States over the course of the last few weeks, but not for much longer.
Several days ago, police from the 13th precinct of the city were forced to abandon their post by throngs of protesters, who many feared may resort of violence to have their voices heard. In this vacuum of power, demonstrators essentially seized the area, creating what was originally known at the “CHAZ”, or “Capital Hill Autonomous Zone”. This was to be an authority-free portion of the city that, presumably, would be used to prove the efficacy of this utopian pipe dream.
This was not how things turned out, however.
The “CHAZ” soon became the “CHOP” – the “Capital Hill Occupied Protest” – on account of concerns that the media were portraying the protesters as secessionists, which was apparently not their intention.
In either case, the newly rechristened CHOP became a magnet for violence and this has prompted a stern response from Seattle’s Mayor.
Seattle will move to end the police-free zone known as the “Capitol Hill Organized Protest,” or “CHOP,” after two recent shootings, one of which was deadly, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Monday — signaling that a stunning chapter in the city’s history could be drawing to a close.
The mayor said the violence was distracting from changes sought by thousands of peaceful protesters seeking to address racial inequity and police brutality. Activists set up “CHOP” in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood about two weeks ago, barricading off the area after police evacuated a ransacked precinct building there.
“The cumulative impacts of the gatherings and protests and the nighttime atmosphere and violence has led to increasingly difficult circumstances for our businesses and residents,” Durkan said at a news conference. “The impacts have increased and the safety has decreased.”
The violence incidents, and the inability of police and first responders to quickly access the CHOP, led to the decision.
The news comes as another autonomous zone appears poised to pop up in Washington DC, under the moniker “BHAZ” or “Black House Autonomous Zone”.
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