Seattle mayor relents, will end CHOP zone and send police back into neighborhood

Mayor Jenny Durkan once proclaimed autonomous zone as center of 'summer of love' but after violent weekend says police shouldn't be banned from any location to keep the peace.

Updated: June 23, 2020 - 5:21pm

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Seattle's mayor on Monday dramatically reversed course on the city's police-free zone after a weekend of deadly violence, saying the lawless, makeshift protest area would be dismantled and officers sent in to restore order.

"There should be no place in Seattle that the Seattle Fire Department and the Seattle Police Department can't go," Mayor Jenny Durkan told a news conference as she announced plans to end the "Capitol Hill Organized Protest" zone, also known by its acronym CHOP.

The announcement was a remarkable turnabout for a Democratic mayor who received significant criticism for allowing rioters and protesters to take control of the neighborhood two weeks ago and then suggesting on CNN that the CHOP might become the epicenter of a long "summer of love."

Her change of heart came after a weekend with two shootings, one fatal, in the zone, which has kept businesses in the area closed, neighbors on edge, and police barricaded outside. A 19-year-old man was shot dead in the zone on Saturday.

"The cumulative impacts of 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."

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