Several hundred demonstrators are remaining in an autonomous area claimed by protesters for racial justice in Seattle as its size is shrinking and pressure to shut it down is increasing from local businesses and residents, as well as city officials, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone (CHOP) began on June 8 after thousands of protesters moved into a six-block area in an artsy neighborhood. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan ordered police to abandon the local East Precinct police station to help end violent confrontations there after the killing of George Floyd. CHOP was initially akin to a community festival focused on antiracism and police reform, but over the June 20-21 weekend there were three shootings in the area, one of which left a man dead.
Police attempting to respond to the fatal incident were blocked by a crowd telling them to leave, according to body camera footage. “It’s time for people to go home,” Durkan said last week. On Friday, city crews arrived to remove some road barriers in the occupation zone and begin cleaning up a city park there, but were met with “significant resistance by protesters, who grew increasingly agitated and aggressive,” a spokesman for the mayor said. The crews retreated. Some remaining protesters said they wouldn’t leave until three demands are met: a de-funding of the Seattle police, more investment in community programs for black residents and the release of all prisoners jailed in the recent Black Lives Matter protests. Durkan’s revised budget proposal Tuesday calls for a $20 million, or 5 percent, reduction in the Seattle police budget, far below the $200 million protesters want. A class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of local businesses and residents in federal court seeking damages from the city for allowing the occupation to happen.