New emails, texts show how Seattle leaders let CHOP spiral out of controlNovember 19, 2020
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Internal communications between Seattle authorities shed new light on how the police department’s East Precinct and the surrounding area became occupied by demonstrators in the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, or CHOP, over the summer, according to local media.
Fire officials sought help from the protesters’ self-declared security team after police pulled back, which “failed to produce results,” Seattle-based KING-TV reported this week. The station cited emails and text messages obtained through public records requests.
“East precinct. They disabled the door locks so they can’t be locked,” Seattle Fire Department Chief Harold Scoggins wrote in an email to Raz Simone, the purported head of CHOP’s makeshift security, according to the report.
The fire chief also reached out via text message.
“Raz, I just got word that 4 people just broke the door at SPD and entered the building,” he reportedly said. “A way to keep SPD out of the space is secure that building during the protest. Can you guys work with us on that?”
SEATTLE'S CHOP HAS SEEN SHOOTINGS, VANDALISM, OTHER CRIMES AS OFFICIALS VOW TO DISMANTLE IT
Protesters occupied the neighborhood June 8, shortly after police pulled out of the East Precinct building following a week of tumultuous protests over the death of George Floyd.
A sign on a makeshift barricade reads "Welcome to C.H.O.P." after Seattle Department of Transportation workers removed concrete barricades at the intersection of 10th Ave. and Pine St. at the CHOP (Capitol Hill Occupied Protest) zone in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25 after an officer was seen on video kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes, prompting demonstrations around the country.
Activists declared the neighborhood around the East Precinct a “cop-free zone,” dragged barriers into the street to cut off traffic and also referred to it as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or CHAZ.
But after allowing occupiers for several weeks, police pushed them out, and reclaimed the building and surrounding blocks following a number of shootings, arsons, thefts and vandalism.
A sign reads "Welcome to CHOP," June 14, inside what has been named the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, who headed the department at the time of the CHOP, denied it was ever a “cop-free zone.” But protesters sometimes hindered police, and the chief said that 911 response times to reports of burglaries, rapes and other crimes had tripled.
SEATTLE POLICE CHIEF: 'LEAVING THE PRECINCT WAS NOT MY DECISION'
Best said that she did not make the decision to abandon the precinct building in a YouTube video addressed to her department’s rank-and-file officers on June 11.
The pull-out appears to contradict multiple texts and emails, which stated the facility would not be abandoned, as recent as June 7, the day before police left, according to the communications obtained by KING. They also appear to show Best’s public statement on the matter surprised the mayor’s office, and officials scrambled to adjust their public narrative.
Best stepped down at the end of the summer to protest the city council’s police budget cuts. She was the first Black police chief in Seattle’s history.
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A spokeswoman for Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, whose name came up in the KING report, did not immediately respond to a Fox News request for comment.
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