The Seattle Police Department swept into CHOP early Wednesday with heavily equipped officers and tactical vehicles to clear out the Capitol Hill protest zone. Police issued dispersal orders and had arrested about a dozen people as of 5:23 a.m., the department tweeted.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan issued an executive order that went out at 4:58 a.m. declaring the “gathering in this area an unlawful assembly requiring immediate action from city agencies, including the Police Department.”
At least 100 police officers equipped with body armor, batons, helmets and weapons moved into CHOP. “Anyone who remains in the area, or returns to the area, is subject to arrest,” the department tweeted.
Police reported people were overturning portable toilets as officers swept the area.
“This order, and our police response, comes after weeks of violence in and around the Capitol Hill Occupied Protests Zone, including four shootings, resulting in multiple injuries and the deaths of two teenagers,” Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said in a statement. She was watching Wednesday morning from a staging area at the fire station on 13th Avenue and East Pine Street.
Police said anyone seeking to leave the area without getting arrested could do so through the south end of the zone, toward Pike Street.
The sweep comes one day after police and other city employees removed some barriers at the CHOP with heavy equipment at 10th Avenue and East Pine Street. But within an hour Tuesday, protesters had erected their own makeshift barricade as a replacement.
Tuesday’s back-and-forth over barriers was the latest episode in a stalemate between the city and protesters, who for about three weeks occupied several blocks around the park and the Police Department’s East Precinct. Police left the precinct after standoffs and clashes with protesters calling for racial justice and an end to police brutality.
Calls to bring law enforcement back to the East Precinct and shut down CHOP have been amplified by four shootings in the area over about a nine-day span, including one Monday morning that killed a 16-year-old boy and wounded a 14-year-old boy.
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