A 16-year-old is dead and a 14-year-old is critically ill in the latest in a series of shootings inside Seattle’s self-proclaimed police-free zone, known as the Capitol Hill (Chop) organized protest.
Initially home to hundreds of peaceful protesters, in the past 10 days, four other people were shot in the area, including a 19-year-old man who was killed. The violence has left some officials seriously questioning the security of the camp and seeking to take steps to dismantle it.
Officers said in a police blog post that around 3 a.m. on Monday, a white Jeep Cherokee SUV was reported near a concrete Chop barrier surrounding the protest area. Several unidentified people shot at the vehicle.
“Two injured people, presumably the occupants of the Jeep,” were taken to the Harborview Medical Center, according to the police blog. One was transported in a private vehicle, while the other was carried by doctors. Police are investigating the shooting.
Chop, originally called the Capitol Autonomous Zone, or “Chaz”, was founded about three weeks ago after a series of dangerous clashes between protesters and law enforcement officers during protests against police brutality sparked by the murder of George Floyd. The clashes culminated in the police leaving the compound of their compound in the area.
Peaceful protesters filled the area with free food and community gardens, and held speeches, movie nights, and teachings. Across the main road in the camp, some people painted “Black Lives Matter” in large, colorful letters.
But recently, with the barrage of nightly armed violence, the number of protesters has decreased dramatically.
During a press conference in the occupied area on Monday, Carmen Best, the police chief, said the situation in Chop “was not safe for anyone” and said that protesters should leave the area.
“As an African American woman with uncles and brothers, I don’t want them to be in this area,” she said.
But Best did not provide additional details on when officials would begin dismantling the area.
“I can’t telegraph what’s going to happen,” he said. “I can tell you that I think that’s enough, I absolutely do it.”
Jenny Durkan, mayor of Seattle, had previously said during a meeting with protesters on Friday that the concrete barricades surrounding the protest area would be removed on Sunday, and those directly outside the east police compound would be left, according to Converge. Media, the only news organization. allowed at the meeting. But no teams arrived on Sunday to remove them, and until 3 pm Monday, the barricades were still standing.
A large group of transportation teams from the Seattle department had attempted to remove the barriers early Friday morning, but several people stopped sitting or lying on the ground in front of the team.
In recent days, some people in Chop have removed their tents from Cal Anderson Park, making them closer to the police compound. But many still remain in the park. Questions remain about how protesters will respond to the city trying to remove the barricades, and what will happen to those still in the park.
Hours after the shooting, an African-American woman was allegedly pressured by Fox News journalist Dan Springer, according to Derrick Drungo, a Chop activist who witnessed the incident.
Drungo said Springer got into his truck and protesters surrounded him, apologizing. A woman briefly climbed onto the top of the truck. Activists said the journalist’s personal safety details came out and tried to spray them with pepper, and the group moved a concrete barrier in front of the truck to prevent it from leaving.
The journalist later got out of the car and another man with Fox tried to move the truck. While driving very slowly, Drungo said the man hit him.
“I went back to the front of the car and the driver kept driving,” Drungo told the Guardian.
“My hands were in the air and he hit me six times. I told him to stop, “he added.
In a statement, Nancy Harmeyer, vice president of national offices and head of the LA office at Fox News, said:
“While covering the news outside the Chop Zone of Seattle this morning, a protester confronted Fox News Channel correspondent Dan Springer and his team after hearing him cancel a live report due to ‘dirty language’ in the background. The protester started yelling at him and threw a cup of coffee in his face and on his jacket. Trying to reduce the situation, the crew returned to their vehicle, which was surrounded by protesters. Unable to drive, the crew turned off the car and left the scene. At no time during the situation did the Fox News team physically instigate or retaliate in any way against the protesters. “
In a tweet early Monday, Donald Trump said: “Seattle looters, agitators, anarchists and ‘Protestants’ are now refusing to leave the ‘CHOP’ zone. They have ZERO respect for the government, or the mayor of Seattle or the governor of the state of Washington! Not well!”