The several-block area of Seattle overtaken by protesters for two weeks appeared to be weakening Wednesday following the third shooting in four days within the zone, with a person identified by CNN as the “de facto leader” telling the cable news channel “a lot of people already left.”
CNN quoted Raz Simone, the supposed head of the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or CHAZ, otherwise known as the Capital Hill Organized Protest, or CHOP, indicated that the violence was breaking up the demonstration.
“The protesters of CHAZ have targets on their backs, and that is an issue,” Simone said. “A lot of peaceful protesters are being harmed, so it’s sad that’s where we’re at in America.
“A lot of people are going to leave — a lot of people already left.”
The remarks come as a Twitter account claiming to be the official voice of the zone posted a statement from the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest Solidarity Committee saying that “the CHOP project is now concluded.”
The statement, addressed to “Dear Comrades in the struggle,” implored participants to “continue supporting the kind of revolutionary change we just created” by voting for presumptive Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden.
CHAZ, or CHOP, was established on June 8 by what has been described as thousands angered by the death of a black man, George Floyd, in police custody in Minneapolis, which critics have claimed was evidence of systemic racism in America.
Police abandoned a precinct within the zone and Mayor Jenny Durkan refused to move against the occupiers, claiming in one interview it could be a “summer of love.”
Durkan on Monday said “it’s time for people to go home” and announced plans were being formulated to get protesters to clear the area.”
A man in his 30s was shot in the leg and was admitted to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries early Tuesday morning, one of four people who had suffered gunshot wounds since Saturday, including a 19-year-old who died, according to local NBC network affiliate KING.
Andre Taylor, whose brother was killed by Seattle police in 2016 and has been asked by Durkan to try to get people to leave peacefully, told CNN on Wednesday that CHAZ was done.
“It is over because of the violence,” he said. “I’ve told people here don’t be focused on the location. CHOP is not a location it is an idea.”