After 3 1/2 weeks of anti-racist organizing at the Capital Hill Organizing Protest (CHOP), Seattle cops raided and closed the six-block encampment on July 1. They invaded with a massive force of police and the FBI. Over 40 people were arrested during the raid, but arrestees totaled at least 69 after more were arrested for protesting the raids.
The CHOP was created after Seattle cops evacuated the Capital Hill East Precinct. The precinct had been hit with a barrage of protests after the murder of George Floyd. CHOP became a 24/7 demonstration/encampment as part of an outpouring of national anti-racist actions, which are still in progress.
The July 18 Workers World article, “CHOP Seattle: Imagining the police-free future” described CHOP as having “a system of collective responsibility and accountability, centered around the concepts of mutual aid and direct democracy. The organizers quickly erected tents where donated food and supplies were collected and distributed free, based on need, not ability to pay. Dozens of tents provide everything from medical care to legal advice to literature, all for no charge.”
Demonstrations moved out of CHOP every night and marched on the downtown Seattle police precinct. The CHOP was Black community-led and -defended.
Big business politicians and news media, led by Trump and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, regularly defamed and disrespected CHOP. There were several
suspicious shootings just outside the CHOP barricades. The mayor and the media have harped against CHOP for being somehow responsible for the shootings,
even though CHOP had nothing to do with them. Two youths died in the shootings, and CHOP medical volunteers had to assist and take those shot to the
hospital, since the cops and medical first responders hadn’t shown up when called.
The only person who invaded CHOP with murderous intent was a man who told the cops that his brother was a cop in the East Precinct. This man invaded
CHOP with his car and tried to run people over. He failed because Dan Gregory, a Black activist and hero, grabbed control of the steering wheel and stopped him. (Seattle Times, June 13) The invader then pulled out a gun and shot Gregory in the arm.
This provocateur was eventually taken into custody by the cops and released on bail the next day!
The July 1 police raid followed Mayor Durkan’s executive order declaring CHOP an illegal assembly. Cops evicted homeless people living there and threw all their belongings in the trash, which has been a regular occurrence in Seattle.
There had been at least 100 tents in CHOP. The cops also went after the anti-racist signs and artwork that decorated the entire site.
Demonstrations have continued on the borders of CHOP, while the cops have moved back into their precinct.
Po Leapai protested with others on the perimeter. His cousin, Iosia Faletogo, a Samoan, was shot in the back of the head and killed by a Seattle cop a year and a half ago. “The Black community supported us after my cousin got killed, and that’s another reason I’m out here,” he said. (tinyurl.com/ybv2urn4)
On July 3, hundreds of people marched from the construction site of a new youth jail to the main King County Jail downtown. The protest demanded the release and amnesty for all those arrested at CHOP and earlier demonstrations. While CHOP may have been dismantled, the anti-racist protests show no sign of letting up in Seattle.