The second day of summer 2020 was greeted with the announcement that what was supposed to be the Summer of Love will be coming to an end.
Summer’s first weekend saw such a spike in violence in protester-plagued Seattle that Mayor Jenny Durkan announced that the Capitol Hill Ongoing Protests, formerly known as Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, will be dismantled and police will be returned to the neighborhoods.
The decision was made following a shooting that resulted in the death of a 19-year-old man when paramedics were blocked from getting into the zone. But it was far from clear how or when the area would actually be cleared.
“There’s not a no Seattle Police Department response zone,” Police Chief Carmen Best said on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time” last week.
Police are responding “to every single call in every area of the city” — “When it comes to that particular area, if we get a call that’s an important emergency 911 call, we’re going in … but we also have to be considerate of the delicate situation that we have there.”
Durkan said her decision was because the violence was distracting from positive changes sought by thousands of peaceful protesters opposing racial inequity and police brutality. Residents are questioning why she took so long.
Even though Durkan told a news conference that the city is working with the community to bring CHOP to an end, it’s unlikely that Antifa will give up their confiscated territory without a fight. Police are expected to move back into the facility that they abandoned, but residents should not breathe too easily yet.
The wheels of justice turn ever so slowly across the country — even slower in Seattle. How long will it take the city to make the East Precinct habitable once more? How long will it take to round up all of the anarchists, and if they do, where are they going to keep them?
At a news conference, Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best did not offer a specific timeline for returning to the East Precinct, but said that it will be done in a “phased” way.
“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,” Durkan said. “The impacts on the businesses and residents and the community are now too much.”
The protests will be allowed to continue as Durkan says that the city will attempt to phase down nighttime activity, but will not be using police to clear the zone, according to the Seattle Times.
The physical and emotional damage that Seattle has inflicted upon itself will not go away anytime soon. No immediate timeline has been given for the protesters to vacate the premises, but Durkan promises that “additional steps” will be taken if they refuse to leave.
Business owners and residents of the six-block CHOP zone rejoice at seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but given their choice of municipal leadership, that light will probably be an on-coming train.