‘No idea what’s next’: Moving out of Seattle’s occupied protest zone

VIDEO: Those living inside CHOP say they’re being put at risk

SEATTLE — UPDATE: On Tuesday, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and Seattle Fire Department have been trucking out orange barricades, and moving concrete barricades.

The changes will partially open up some roads around the access zone for residents, delivery drivers, and emergency vehicles.

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As discussions continued Monday about the future footprint of Seattle’s self-declared autonomous zone, one Capitol Hill neighbor whose home is inside the makeshift barricades said he and several others he knows are now choosing to stay elsewhere.

“I was protesting prior to the opening of CHOP or CHAZ but now I don’t know what I’m really supporting if I were to go to CHAZ or linger around, because it’s a different movement,” said the neighbor, who did not want to be publicly identified.

That neighbor said lax organization and a lack of cohesiveness from protesters on the ground about their collective demands has contributed to a disconnect with some residents inside the zone and has added to concerns about safety. He said he started sleeping at a friend’s home last week and is now staying at a hotel.

“I’m mainly scared because I know cops won’t come, I know fire trucks can’t come in. No government has even contacted any residents,” he said.

Security guards positioned at barricades have told KIRO 7 that they have not been stopping people from coming or going from the protest zone and said they planned to occupy the area near the east police precinct until reform demands are met by the city.

New footprint options were now being discussed with city leadership that would keep some areas within the protest area for pedestrians only, while opening some access for first responders and businesses. City crews began making changes to the footprint by moving concrete barriers Tuesday morning to partially reopen the area.

“Even if I want to move out, I can’t move out because I can’t even bring a moving truck there,” said the neighbor, who told us he knows a couple of friends living inside the protest zone who are also now sleeping elsewhere. “Hence why I moved to a hotel yesterday; I’ll be staying there for at least a week but I have no idea what’s next.”

On Sunday, property owner Ron Amundson shared concerns about limited police and fire responses. He said some business owners he’s spoken with are afraid to open and he’s heard of at least eight people living inside the protest zone, as of Sunday, who have decided to leave it.

“It needs leadership and organization and I think we can do it,” said Amundson. “We don’t want this to end badly.”

“There are positives to the groups that are there,” said the neighbor. “But there’s a lot of antagonist groups lingering around.”