On Tuesday, crews from Seattle Department of Transportation began removing the barriers which they had installed just a few weeks earlier around the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP). This as Mayor Jenny Durkan sent a letter to City Council requesting the removal of City Council Member Kshama Sawant, who has advocated for and aided the occupation.
CHOP occupiers quickly replaced the barriers with couches and other discarded furniture that was brought into the area over the course of the protest. According to security sources, protesters who had left the area have returned to prepare for a confrontation with the city.
The dismantling of the city-installed barrier comes a day after yet another shooting in the zone, that left a 16-year-old dead and a 14-year-old in critical condition. This after a weekend where the Mayor held closed door meetings with occupiers who claim to represent the groups in the CHOP, to negotiate an end to the occupation.
According to Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, crime has risen over 250 percent in the area, including violent crimes such as rapes, robberies and assaults. Following the shooting yesterday Chief Best was unequivocal in saying that police need to be back in the area.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan sent a letter to the Seattle City Council asking for the punishment or expulsion of Marxist Council Member Kshama Sawant.
Sawant has encouraged and aided the occupiers, provided access to city hall for an occupation, and led a protest to the Durkan’s home.
This despite the fact that the mayor's address is otherwise undisclosed due to death threats she received while a US attorney. Durkan included photos of alleged vandalism of her home by the protesters.
Durkan also referenced past ethics complaints against Sawant, such as letting her various socialist organizations dictate policy for her office and the utilization of city resources for her agenda.
Following the abandonment by the Seattle Police Department of the East Precinct, occupiers of the CHOP marched to the SPD's West Precinct. For the past week, they have been vandalizing the location. Washington State Patrol has closed I-5 through downtown Seattle nightly to allow the occupiers to March across the highway.
Residents and business owners in the Capitol Hill neighbourhood filed two lawsuits over occupation. The most recent complaint names Mayor Durkan, Governor Jay Inslee and Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes.
It remains to be seen if this is the end of the CHOP or the beginning of a new round of violent confrontations between protesters, the Seattle Police and the city. As yet, police are unable to access the area due to the occupiers.