Despite rumors, Seattle “autonomous zone” is not voluntarily disbanding any time soon

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SEATTLE, WA – Apparently, despite some circulating rumors, the CHAZ/CHOP occupation ongoing within Seattle is not disbanding after a Twitter account reportedly said that the area would be cleared out voluntarily.

The Twitter account @CHOPSOfficialSEA was the account responsible for making claims that CHOP would be disbanding.

From the Twitter account that claimed to be CHOP’s official account, the following was noted and subsequently media outlets ran with the narrative:

“The CHOP project is now concluded. While we expect a very small handful of holdouts may try to remain in the CHOP, no further organizing will be occurring to support this presence and the number on site will be too small to be more than an annoyance for pedestrians rather than a zonal blockade.”

However, people on the ground over at the CHOP/CHAZ area claim that there’s no validity to the message delivered by the Twitter account claiming to be an authority on all things CHOP-related.

There’s been a reported presence of still-existing blockades and tents erected in the area, despite the June 24th tweet delivered.

Dwayne Stamps, one of those involved in the siege of the Seattle area stated the following:

“No, the CHOP is not shut down and it is still going on and there are a lot of people here. Still talking about the issues. It’s not shutting down anytime soon.”

Another individual who is staking claim in the area known as CHOP, Taylor Bryant, claimed that the area is still being inhabited – but also conceded that the presence of people has diminished:

“The CHOP is definitely not shut down. It’s a still safe space for people fighting for racial equality. It’s definitely up and running, even if it is smaller.”

It should be noted that the term “safe space” is highly debatable, depending on who is walking through the CHOP/CHAZ area. One local journalist who simply goes by Derrick, noted that CHOP will never “shut down” because it’s a dogma before it’s an occupied area:

“The CHOP will never be shut down because it’s an ideology, not a place. The CHOP is still vibrant and very much alive. There are less people, and those who have stayed are here for the right reasons.”

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While there’s no true-to-form organized disbursement within CHOP, some of what the post from the Twitter account noted is actually true – many people are concurring that people are just kind of dropping off from the occupied area.

Independent journalist Omari Salisbury reiterated that note, as he’s been covering the CHOP/CHAZ area and development since it’s inception:

“No, the CHOP is not shut down. The numbers are highly reduced, but people are here.”

Whether the CHOP occupiers are leaving voluntarily or not, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan stated on June 22nd that the city is going to be ending the occupation:

“It’s time for people to go home. It’s time for us to restore Cal Anderson and Capitol Hill so it can be a vibrant part of the community.”

While she said that police would not be involved in the initial disbursement of people present, she noted that “additional steps” would be enacted for those who decided to stay despite being told to leave.

Even if the mayor does enlist the assistance of police to clear the area when planned, the city council ruled on June 15th that police are no longer allowed to use tear gas in Seattle.

This has Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best rather concerned:

“No one, especially the officers, wants to be in a situation where the only options left to us ends up being our batons or our guns. Neither of which is the appropriate response to the situation we’re seeing on the Hill.”

Sounds like police, if called to the area, are going to be caught between a rock and a hard place.

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