Seattle Mayor announces the end of CHOP: 'It's time for people to go home'

Mayor Jenny Durkan has been doing her best to downplay the danger of having an autonomous zone in the middle of Seattle, suggesting it wasn’t much different from a summer block party. Then, over the weekend, three people were shot in two separate incidents and one 19-year-old died from his injuries. Now Mayor Durkan is singing a different tune. She announced today that it was “time for people to go home.”

Mayor Jenny Durkan said at a news conference that the violence was distracting from changes sought by thousands of peaceful protesters seeking to address racial inequity and police brutality. She said the city is working with the community to bring the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” zone to an end.

“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. “The impacts have increased and the safety has decreased.”…

“After days of peaceful demonstrations, two nights of shootings have clearly escalated the situation on Capitol Hill,” Durkan’s office said in a statement. “We have been meeting with residents and small business owners to address their safety and disorder concerns, including the ability of first responders to access emergencies in the area. … As many community groups are also urging, (the) Mayor believes individuals can and should peacefully demonstrate, but the message cannot be lost in the violence.”

The plan now is to have police return to the precinct they abandoned two weeks ago but there’s still no definite timeline on when that will happen. Police Chief Best also spoke at the press conference pointing out that other crimes have happened since police abandoned the Capitol Hill precinct.

“There are…groups of individuals engaged in shootings, a rape, assaults, burglary, arson and property destruction,” Chief Best said. “I have the police reports right here. I’m not making it up. These things have happened,” she said, holding up a handful of police reports.

The Seattle Times reports that some locals are willing to talk to the media but only if their identities are protected. One said the protests had been hijacked:

Meanwhile, pressure has been building on political leaders from some residents and workers on Capitol Hill who expressed frustration at the weekend’s violence and lack of action by city officials. Some said they believe the original intent of the protests — to end institutional racism at the hands of government, and specifically the police — had been “hijacked” by what one woman called the “activism industry.”

“The message of Black Lives Matters is being exploited,” said the woman, a 25-year resident of Capitol Hill who, fearing retaliation, would only give her name as Lisa. (As she spoke, a man was setting up a table selling “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts).

“It’s not a street fair,” she said. “It’s disheartening. There’s a lack of integrity.”

While is seems as if Durkan has finally come to her senses, the fact that it took rape, assault, and multiple shootings to get her to this point doesn’t speak very well for her. And even now, Durkan’s plan isn’t to move in and clear the area. Instead, she plans to ask protesters to leave on their own. And if they don’t? Well, we’re going to have to wait and see how much more damage has to be done before Durkan takes the next step.

Finally, as awful as Durkan has been she still comes out looking better than socialist City Council member Kshama Sawant. As I mentioned earlier today, Sawant claimed, with no evidence whatsoever, that there were indications Saturday morning’s deadly shooting was a “right-wing attack.” She specifically blamed conservative media and President Trump:

When asked by local media for additional details, she didn’t respond. However, organizers within CHOP shot down Sawant’s speculation:

Organizers from the CHOP also released a statement that said the people involved in the shooting may have a previous history and “the situation escalated because of gang affiliations,” however, the involvement of gangs in the shooting has not been confirmed by police. They added, “Our de-escalation teams were en route.”

Now Sawant has reportedly retracted her assertion: “Sawant walked back her unfounded Saturday claim that the shooting “may have been a right-wing attack.” She now says that appears to be incorrect.” However, she’s now claiming that the shooting wasn’t committed by a protester. Again, it’s not clear how she knows this since police haven’t identified a suspect or arrested anyone yet.

Here’s the portion of the press conference where Police Chief Best spoke:

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