Protesters in Seattle’s Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) zone confronted construction workers as they attempted to remove roadblocks on Friday morning.
Employees from the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) arrived around 6.00am with trucks and heavy machinery to haul away the concrete and wooden barriers.
Video taken by Converge Media showed Sam Zimbabwe, head of SDOT, and a representative from Mayor Jenny Durkan speaking to demonstrators, with the representative assuring that no protesters would be removed.
Some tried to negotiate with the officials and asked that a few barriers be kept in place.
Several marchers stood in front of a bulldozer while others lay down n the middle of the street. Others sat on top of the wooden barricades.
At around 7.30am, SDOT began driving its construction vehicles out of the area without having removed any of the barricades.
Protesters declared the ‘police-free’ zone in the several-block area after cops pulled back from their East Precinct building following violent clashes with people protesting the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.
Construction workers arrived at Seattle’s Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) on Friday at 6am to remove the concrete and wooden barriers set up around the zone. Pictured: Protesters confronting the workers
Demonstrators sat on top of the barriers while others lay down in front of the bulldozers. Pictured: A protester lies down in the street after workers and heavy equipment from the Seattle Department of Transportation arrives
A self-styled head of security in a balaclava tried negotiating with police officers as a bulldozer sat ready ready to move in
A representative from Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office assured no demonstrators would be removed. Protesters tried to negotiate and asked that some of the barriers be kept in place. Pictured: SDOT workers walk in front of the Seattle Police Department East Precinct building in CHOP (left) and protesters react to the arrival of the construction workers (right)
At around 7.30am, SDOT began driving its construction vehicles out of the area without having removed any of the barricades. Pictured: A sign on a barricade in CHOP reads ‘United we stand, divided we fall’
CHOP is hailed by its supporters as an ‘ideal society’ but seen by President Donald Trump as a home of ‘thugs and anarchists.’ Pictured: Protesters sit behind barricades
A protestor is seen holding up a stick and standing in front of a vehicle, blocking it from entering CHOP
‘DOT came early this AM to remove the barriers around CHOP,’ a man who refused to give his name but said he was head of barrier security,e exclusively told DailyMail.com.
‘We are standing strong, there aren’t going to be any barriers removed today, I promise you that.
‘There was no warning from the City on what they were planning on doing. We are going to stay strong, we are here all day every day until are demands are meet.’
The man said that most of the zone’s security guards openly carry firearms but all are license gun carriers.
‘Our people are meeting with City leaders right now to negotiate some sort of deal or notice,’ he added.
A Seattle police officer who didn’t want to be identified told DaiilyMail.com that ‘everything is on hold right now, the city trucks are leaving. Both sides are talking right now.’
Earlier this week, Mayor Durkan said police will begin returning to the East Precinct in the CHOP, but didn’t give a timeline.
Some demonstrators stood on barricades, such as this man with his fist raised and trucks from the SDOT staged behind him
The head of barrier security told DailyMail.com that there was no warning from the city on removing barriers. Pictured: Seattle police are confronted by protesters
One Seattle police officer said ‘everything is on hold right now.’ Pictured: A Seattle police officer is confronted by a protester
A protester sit next to a sign stylized with Disney font in front of the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct building inside the CHOP
Tents are pitched up at CHOP as activists continue to protest against police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement
Meanwhile, photos inside CHOP feature a fleet of tents, a street renamed after George Floyd, the abandoned police building covered in Black Lives Matter slogans and an armed man carrying a coffee cup.
The encampment is hailed by its supporters as an ‘ideal society’ where people help each other with food and medical care, but derided by President Donald Trump as the home of ‘thugs and anarchists’ which he has threatened to dismantle with federal forces.
Demonstrators have put their stamp on the area by redesignating Pine Street as George Floyd Way and covering the empty police building with Black Lives Matter materials.
One man was yesterday seen walking the streets with a firearm in a holster as Mayor Durkan faces mounting pressure to crack down on the ‘occupation’.
Durkan said on Monday that officials would move to wind down the protest – also known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or CHAZ.
During an interview with Fox News anchor Sean Hannity on Thursday night, President Trump said: ‘‘If they don’t do something with Seattle, we’re going to do that – we’re going to go in there.
‘Because what’s happening, they’re taking over American cities. In all cases, it;s Democrats. They’re Democrat-run, in all cases.’
Trump also tweeted yesterday: ‘When are the thugs, looters, and anarchists moving out of the so-called “Autonomous Zone” in Seattle? Get going!’.
A car is parked near a tent city in CHOP in Seattle where protesters have been camped in the wake of the anti-racism protests triggered by the death of George Floyd
Protesters have put their stamp on the ‘occupied’ area by renaming Pine Street as George Floyd Way, in honor of the black man whose death after being pinned down on the neck by a white cop in Minneapolis triggered global outrage
A man was seen with a firearm in a holster in the protest zone yesterday as the mayor of Seattle comes under mounting pressure to move against the protesters, including from Donald Trump
A woman wearing a mask walks past tents outside the abandoned police building in Seattle’s Capitol Hill Occupied Protest
On Thursday afternoon, the protesters gave a press conference saying they were ‘fighting for equality and human rights including those of Indigenous peoples, immigrants, LGBTQ+ communities and the differently-abled’.
Naudia Miller of Black Collective Voice said people had camped in the park, grown gardens and provided food, security and medical care for each other after police left the East Precinct last Monday.
‘The truth is even if they force activists out of CHOP it will not stop us or this movement,’ Miller told reporters.
The group’s demands include releasing all jailed protesters, reducing the Seattle Police Department’s budget by at least 50 percent.
They want that money to be used to fund causes including restorative justice, housing and healthcare
Seattle police chief Carmen Best has voiced support for re-imagining community safety and Mayor Durkan has called the protest a ‘peaceful expression of our community’s collective grief.’
‘We have listened for generations, and we will continue to listen,’ Best said. ‘But the time for talk and committees is over. We must act. Together.’
This protest sign warns that the demonstrators ‘are not leaving until our demands are met’ – stating these as a 50 percent cut in Seattle’s police budget, more funding for black communities and freedom for all arrested protesters
Artwork on the road announces the title of the Capital Hill Occupied Protest or CHOP. Another sign directs people to a coronavirus testing site
A placard in the ‘autonomous zone’ in Seattle displays a quote by Martin Luther King Jr – ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’ – which he wrote from a Birmingham jail in 1963
Proposals include allowing a community member to join the police department’s command staff and determining which non-violent 911 calls can acceptably be passed on to other agencies or the community.
The city has provided barricades to protect the demonstrators and Durkan has asked cops to prepare models of what 20, 30 and 50 per cent budget cuts would look like.
But following several recent shootings in the area, Durkan said on Monday the city would wind down the protest zone, at first by encouraging demonstrators to leave.
Durkan said that police would return to the precinct, but neither she nor Best have given specifics on when that would happen.
Naudia Miller said crime has always been prevalent around Cal Anderson Park and rejected claims that recent incidents were linked to the protests.
‘Homelessness, substance abuse and gun violence are long standing issues in the area, across our city and our nation,’ she said.
Flowers and tributes are left in the ‘occupied’ zone after a pre-dawn shooting in the protest zone on Saturday left one person dead and another injured
These pictures were put up in the CHOP zone in memory of ‘those killed during the George Floyd rebellion’ in recent weeks
Posters declaring ‘Black Lives Matter’ and demanding the ‘defunding’ of Seattle’s police department are displayed on the empty precinct building which was vacated by cops following the protests
A protester stands on a bicycle by a graffitied wall in the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest area in Seattle where demonstrators have been camped amid the George Floyd anti-racism protests
People walk along a street in the ‘autonomous zone’ in Seattle which has been, repeatedly criticized by President Trump
A man wearing a mask walks by a graffitied building in the ‘autonomous zone’ which was abandoned by police last week
This artwork in the Seattle protest zone displays an octopus emblazoned with the slogan BLM or Black Lives Matter, along with a call to ‘end systemic racism’