Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan says “it’s time for people to go home” and leave the Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone, or the CHOP. She says businesses and residents on Capitol Hill are suffering and the area needs to be restored and streets open. Durkan didn't specify when the city will take action.
Police Chief Carmen Best, speaking at a news conference with Durkan, said reopening the Seattle Police Department's East Precinct also is a priority. It was vacated by police after Best said there were credible threats against the building during protests.
Best said the killing of a 19-year-old African American man and the wounding of two other men over the weekend isn’t the only violence that’s occurred near the CHOP. She says while many people in the zone are there to exercise their rights, others are there to do harm.
“There are also groups of individuals engaging in shootings, a rape, assaults, burglary, arson and property destruction," Best said. "We cannot walk away from the truth of what is happening there.”
Best also chided the Seattle City Council for passing what she called "hasty legislation" banning the use of tactics such as tear gas for crowd control. She said it's left officers with just batons and guns, which are not appropriate as a way to clear an area during an emergency.
On Saturday morning after the shooting, the Seattle Fire Department waited a block away for police to secure the area. Police attempted to enter, but said they were forced back by a "hostile crowd." The victim was tended to by CHOP volunteer medics then taken by private car to Harborview Medical Center, where he died.
Lisa Herbold, Seattle City Council Public Safety chair, said during a council briefing that the grieving family of the teenager who died deserve answers. She says records show police weren’t on site until 18 minutes after the shooting.
"We don't know if police had arrived earlier and fire had been able to get there sooner if this young man’s life would have been saved,” she said.
Herbold says the incident shows that the current plan for public safety in the CHOP zone isn’t working. But, she also said the crowd was not a factor in keeping police from reaching the victim since he had already been taken from the scene.