SEATTLE — Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) crews entered the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) around 5:30 a..m. Friday morning to start clearing barricades and opening streets, only to be met by protesters.
People stood and sat on the concrete blocks, and one protester was lying on the ground blocking a backhoe from entering as people chanted, “Whose streets, our streets!”
The city said they talked with protesters over several days about reopening streets in the neighborhood, but many of couple of dozen people still there Friday morning said they didn’t know about the plans.
“No one knew,” said David Lewis, one of the leaders of the group.
“Our goal is to make streets passable, that’s been our goal the whole time, so we’re prepared to do that. We’re also going to continue to deescalate with everybody and find that right balance,” said Sam Zimbabwe, the SDOT director.
Others shared their frustration about CHOP apparently continuing, even though some from the protest said on Wednesday and Thursday that the protest here was over.
“Go home, go home go home, leave! Get out of here!,” one man shouted.
At one point, protesters surrounded the SDOT director, Sam Zimbabwe; Idris Beauregard with Seattle Pubic Utilities; and Stephanie Formas, the Mayor’s Chief of Staff.
The city also voiced major concerns about cars on Cal Anderson park.
“Vehicles on the park, the north park. That’s our water. That’s our drinking water. That’s health and life for the whole city. That’s comprising that drinking water,” said Idris Beauregard with SPU.
One protester said they would get the vehicles moved, while another said they can discuss moving them.
The mayor's office also said the city is here with a large team of social workers to provide services -- especially the unhoused.
“We have a lot of people here ready to help. It is DESC, Mary’s Place, Evergreen Treatments, just to get people the help they need. Country Doctor. We have a wellness clinic that’s ready to go,” Formas said.
But some protesters didn’t buy the good intent.
“Bring people in at 5:30 in the morning without any warning and you break community trust,” one protester said.
“We actually had been working with a lot of the community to come in. We are here on the ground,” Formas said.
The city said police officers will not be moving back into the East Precinct on Friday.
Additional city crews are expected to come Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. to start cleaning the park, something protesters seemed to accept as of Friday morning.
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