In Seattle, a strange social experiment known as the “CHOP” is coming to an end.
During one of the earlier nights of heavy protesting in Seattle’s Capital Hill district, demonstrators forced the city’s police force to abandon the local precinct. From there, the protesters took over about six blocks of the heart of the city, declaring at first that those who entered the area, then called the “CHAZ”, were actually “leaving the United States”.
After a few days, the “Capital Hill Autonomous Zone” was rebranded as the “Capital Hill Occupied Protest”, on account of confused reports that these activists were attempting to secede from the nation.
Now, after several weeks of no police presence, (and a number of shooting deaths), the whole, wild experiment is over.
Seattle police have retaken the East Precinct stationhouse after clearing out the protest area known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, or CHOP, making more than a dozen arrests after Mayor Jenny Durkan declared the gathering an unlawful assembly following two fatal shootings.
Police issued the order to disperse around 5 a.m. local time Wednesday, telling protesters to leave within eight minutes. At least 31 protesters were arrested for failure to disperse, obstruction, resisting arrest and assault, police said.
A 29-year-old man was in possession of a large metal pipe and kitchen knife when he was arrested, police said.
Law enforcement officials were not amused by what was occurring within the area.
The East Precinct stationhouse, which police abandoned last month following standoffs and clashes with demonstrators, was cleared of protesters, Police Chief Carmen Best told reporters from inside CHOP. Best said police were not moving into the building yet.
“Our job is to support peaceful demonstration but what has happened on these streets over the last few weeks is lawless and it’s brutal and bottom line it is simply unacceptable,” Best told reporters.
A similar “autonomous zone” was attempted by protesters in the nation’s capital under the moniker “BHAZ”, or “Black House Autonomous Zone”, but found itself unable to maintain its borders as Capitol Police arrived on the scene.
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