Seattle police moved Wednesday to eject demonstrators from the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest,” formerly known as the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” in accordance with an executive order signed by Mayor Jenny Durkan, who formerly praised the demonstration as an expression of “democracy.”
The order came after several shootings in or near the protest, which covered a six-block area in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Police have arrested at least 10 protesters since the start of the evacuation.
“This order, and our police response, comes after weeks of violence in and around the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone, including four shootings, resulting in multiple injuries and the deaths of two teenagers,” Police chief Carmen Best said in a statement. “As I have said, and I will say again, I support peaceful demonstrations. Black Lives Matter, and I too want to help propel this movement toward meaningful change in our community. But enough is enough. ”
Durkan initially compared the protest to the “summer of love,” but walked back the remarks in mid-June.
“I clearly said that in jest, it probably was not the smart thing to do,” Durkan told Seattle’s local Fox News affiliate.
Horace Lorenzo Anderson, whose 19-year-old son was shot and killed in the protest zone last week, called on Monday to return the National Guard to the area.
“They should deploy them here to say ‘Man, it’s time to go, it’s time to move on and break this up,'” Anderson told the local KIRO 7 news. “Justice is not happening here. Violence is happening here.”
The protest has continued for over three weeks since Seattle police evacuated the third precinct building. Organizers have attempted to maintain order, with armed volunteers coming to the protest zone to provide security. However, in addition to violent incidents, the protest encampment has seen an influx of homeless people as well as complaints from local residents and businesses.