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Seattle Mayor Announces City Will Move to Dismantle Protest Autonomous Zone

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Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) has announced plans to dismantle to the city’s autonomous zone — known as the “Capitol Hill Organized Protest” zone or “CHOP” — previously taken over by protesters.

In wake of the ongoing protests, Durkan has expressed concern about the “increasingly difficult circumstances” Seattle residents and businesses are facing as a result of the gatherings, protests, nighttime atmosphere, and violence that has erupted in the blocks-long autonomous zone over the last two weeks. The mayor’s announcement comes after two weekend shootings.

“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.”

The mayor said during Monday’s press conference:

“It’s time for people to go home. It is time for us to restore Cal Anderson and Capitol Hill so it can be a vibrant part of the community. We can still accommodate people who want to protest peacefully, come there and gather. But the impacts on the businesses and residents and community are now too much.”

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On Monday, Durkan also took to Twitter with a series of tweets about the changes that will be forthcoming.

The Democratic mayor acknowledged protesters’ concerns about police brutality and systemic racism but made it clear the violence would not be tolerated.

“Across the City, hundreds of thousands have gathered daily at different events protesting the murder of George Floyd and hundreds of years of systemic racism that led to his death,” Durkan tweeted, “A recent silent march had nearly 85,000 peaceful attendees whose message was clear: we need change.”

While she did not offer a timeline for the dismantling of the autonomous zone, she has confirmed that it will be taken back by the city.

Durkan briefly discussed the city’s budget changes as she revealed financial reductions for the Seattle Police Department.

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She also confirmed multiple changes that will be incorporated for first responders.

“We must deploy the right person with the right skills into a situation – like mental health specialists, domestic violence counselors, or addiction counselors,” Durkan said. “We must expand programs that follow these models, like SPD’s Community Service Officers and [Seattle Police Department’s] Health One.”

It is still unclear how Durkan and city officials plan to regain control of the autonomous zone.

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