Maybe the third time really is the charm. Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) crews were set to remove barriers around the CHOP last Friday morning but protesters resisted. There were rumors they would return Sunday morning but they never did. Today King 5 reports that some of the barriers around CHOP are finally coming down.
City crews began removing barricades around Seattle’s CHOP Tuesday morning.
Seattle officials previously said barriers around CHOP would be dismantled Sunday, but the protest zone remain intact through Monday.
The barricades were removed at 10th and Pine.
So why didn’t this happen last week? From the outside the behavior of CHOP residents (and authorities) seems almost random. But according to Omari Salisbury who has been reporting from the CHOP every day, there are shifting factions within the area who want different things. He told KIRO radio in Seattle that many of the regular protesters agreed it was time to leave several days ago:
[Salisbury] has footage of who he referred to as “the main CHOP people,” including protesters and people who have been in the tents, who six days ago agreed to give up Cal Anderson and some of the streets.
“I mean we played it live on the stream, some said they’re going to Seattle Center, some said they were going to camp in front of the East Precinct,” Salibury recalled. “They gave up the space.”…
“It might sound crazy to people, but … a lot of them want this barricade gone,” Salisbury said.
But even as the regulars at CHOP are ready to pull back, new people arrived with a different agenda:
“I see a lot of people I’ve never seen before, and what they’re saying is they’ve come here to block SDOT’s effort,” he added. “Meanwhile, the actual people who camp here and tent here, the people who have the firearms and everything else, they said they wanted the barricade to go.”…
“Everybody has a different motivation,” Salisbury said.
The remaining hard core of protesters seem to be focused on holding the space in front of the police precinct. As for why they are staying, Salisbury told KIRO “there’s people you talk to this is the most important thing they’ve ever done, … there’s a lot of people who feel like this is their Alamo, this is their line in the sand.”
So protesters are determined to make sure police don’t return even as Police Chief Carmen Best is trying to get her officers back in there. As Ed pointed out earlier, the big question now is whether Mayor Jenny Durkan or Gov. Jay Inslee will use force to support Chief Best or continue to negotiate with the protesters.
Waiting the protesters out seems like a bad idea given that we’ve had 4 shootings in the last 9 days, two of which have resulted in dead teenagers. Two other victims are still in the hospital. If authorities give the protesters another weekend there’s a chance there could be more violence. On the other hand, going in with force could provoke the protesters and also result in violence.
Politically, neither Mayor Durkan nor Gov. Inslee want to be seen opposing people who are ostensibly BLM protesters. So, until this morning, it has seemed authorities would rather wait and back away from possible confrontation. Ironically, it’s more important to be seen supporting Black Lives Matter protesters than it is to actually protect black lives. We’ll still have to wait and see how much of CHOP gets dismantled and whether or not police will finally be able to return to the precinct.
Update: Here’s raw video from King 5.