The city of Seattle and protesters occupying the “Capitol Hill Organized Protest” have reached an agreement that will remove temporary roadblocks and replace them with concrete barriers, Fox News has been told.
The Seattle Department of Transportation is installing concrete barriers in the middle of Pine Street, running East and West, which will split the road for both pedestrian and vehicle traffic. This will allow for emergency service vehicles to pass through the area.
The agreement will reduce the area protesters previously called Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or CHAZ, from about six or seven city blocks to just three. This is the first time in weeks traffic will be able to pass by the shuttered East Police Precinct.
Fox News has confirmed the agreement to replace the wooden barrier set in place by the protesters with concrete barriers with Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins, the Seattle Department of Transportation and Seattle Public Utilities. The Seattle Police Department is not overseeing the concrete barrier being put in place.
The development comes after the Seattle City Council on Monday voted unanimously to ban police from using chokeholds, and crowd-control devices like tear gas and pepper spray.
The Seattle Police Department used tear gas to disperse mostly peaceful demonstrators protesting racism and police brutality in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died last month in the custody of a white police officer. The council heard repeated complaints from residents forced out of their homes by the gas even though they weren’t protesting; one resident said his wife doused their child’s eyes with breast milk.
On Monday, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, who has repeatedly clashed with President Trump over her handling of the CHOP, tweeted: “Seattle won’t lose sight of what we need: allowing our community to exercise their first amendment rights, demilitarizing our police force, rethinking who responds to 9-1-1 calls, and investing more to create meaningful change for our black and brown communities.”
Seattle won't lose sight of what we need: allowing our community to exercise their first amendment rights, demilitarizing our police force, rethinking who responds to 9-1-1 calls, and investing more to create meaningful change for our black and brown communities.
— Mayor Jenny Durkan (@MayorJenny) June 16, 2020
Durkan has yet to publicly address the agreement between the city of Seattle and the CHOP.
A federal judge on Friday issued a temporary order banning Seattle police from using tear gas, pepper spray, and foam-tipped projectiles against protesters. The court found that the department had used less-lethal weapons “disproportionately and without provocation,” stifling free speech.
The new barriers will make it easier for emergency services to enter the area. Early Monday morning, a Seattle auto repair shop located on 12th street, but outside the CHOP’s initial perimeters, was reportedly broken into by a protester who attempted to light a fire before the business owners arrived and detained him. The owner told local news outlets that despite over a dozen 911 calls, no police or fire personnel arrived at the scene, which grew violent when armed protesters broke down the fence, demanding the suspect be released.
A huge mob just attacked "Small Tender" business demanding a release of man who went into the business and started a fire, the business is located inside the 6 blocks of #CHAZ a 'no-cop zone'. Reporting on the ground in #Seattle pic.twitter.com/GeTRheQXFo
— Jorge Ventura Media (@VenturaReport) June 15, 2020
Fire Chief Scoggins visited the business later Monday and said he was still investigating why fire personnel had not responded.
Fox News learned Tuesday that the fire team was waiting on a police escort to the business, but police did not want to enter the area to escalate tensions. Seattle police took a report of the incident and sent officers to the periphery, but did not engage with the business owners or protesters or take the suspect into custody.