Seattle police arrested 23 people Wednesday morning after the mayor ordered protesters at Seattle’s Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone to vacate within 48 hours, according to the Seattle Police Department.
Police said they arrested the individuals for failure to disperse, obstruction, resisting arrest, and assault after Democratic Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan issued an emergency executive order labeling CHOP as an unlawful assembly.
“Enough is enough. The CHOP has become lawless and brutal,” Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said in a statement. “My job, and the job of our officers, is to protect and serve our community. This is not an end to our department’s engagement with demonstrators.”
Durkan’s order cited 13 specific instances of alleged threats to public health, safety, and life.
The mayor acknowledged that “much of the expression has been peaceful and created community solidarity for Black Lives Matter,” mentioning the garden, conversation corner, and art installments created within CHOP.
>>> Listen to a journalist’s description of life in CHOP, including how literature about hurting police was distributed:
Durkan said she recognized the “right to lawfully assemble guaranteed by the Constitution,” but added that “city departments have more than reasonably accommodated protesters.”
“The city’s obligations under the First Amendment do not require the city to provide limitless sanctuary to occupy city property, damage city and private property, obstruct the right of way, or foster dangerous conditions,” Durkan said.
Durkan ordered every city department to respond to her order, with the Seattle Police Department maintaining the closure of the park and carrying out arrests for people who refuse to vacate the area.
The neighborhood was previously called the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone by activists and was renamed the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone, or CHOP, mid-June, The Daily Caller reported. The zone is comprised of nearly six residential blocks, businesses, and the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct headquarters.
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