SEATTLE — More changes are happening at the CHOP. People are packing up their tents and many say they’re not sure what’s next.
On Wednesday morning, it was clear fewer people were at the protest area and it was quiet. Traffic was flowing one-way on E. 12th Ave, as intended when SDOT moved in barricades last week.
One Twitter account that claims to be an official account for the protest said “The CHOP project is now concluded,” but others who have been recognized as CHOP leaders in the beginning of the movement say they aren’t sure who is behind the account.
The tweet claimed that “we have been briefed that full rehousing SPD East Precinct staff into the station will occur no later than early next week.”
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office said in a statement to KIRO7: “Since the CHOP was established, City leaders have been onsite and in constant communication with demonstrators. Discussions are ongoing concerning SPD’s return to East Precinct.” The city did not provide a timeline as of noon on Wednesday.
People still at the protest all seem to agree that new faces and voices have come to the CHOP within the past few days. They say that, plus a string of gun violence, has fractured the protest.
“To see it disbanding like this is hurting my heart,” said Malcolm, who has been at the protest since day one.
People camping at Cal Anderson park started packing up their tents Tuesday night and some were still packing up Wednesday morning.
“There are a lot of people that come out because of the national spotlight,” Malcolm said. “They just pushed their own agenda and that’s what’s again causing the division here inside CHOP,” he said.
Citizen journalist Omari Salisbury with Converge Media has been embedded at the protest since the beginning.
“There is a lot of uncertainty,” Salisbury said.
He pointed to some of the divisions within CHOP.
“Misinformation is rampant here. So many Twitter accounts rampant here,” Salisbury said. He said leaders speaking at a meeting Tuesday night also had different ideas on whether to move part of the protest to the Space Needle / Seattle Center.
Protesters that KIRO7′s Deedee Sun spoke with on Wednesday morning confirmed the division and said they weren’t sure what’s next.
Malcolm said he is still deciding if he will stay at CHOP or relocate.
“We just need to move forward. I do want to continue to go to other locations and continue to have this dialogue,” Malcolm said.
He acknowledged the string of gun violence - including a 19-year-old Black man getting shot and killed - has contributed to some of CHOP starting to split.
“I believe it did,” Malcolm said. “To see another Black man die while they were trying to resuscitate him - it was a sad thing to see,” he said.
Another leader of the protest, David Lewis, said protesters were moving to focus camping outside the East Precinct. He and another prominent voice, Rooks, also talked about potentially marching during the day but holding down the precinct at night.
They all agree the movement must continue but say something needs to change.
“It’s not over. But I think people need time to recollect their thoughts because of all the events that occurred,” Rooks said.
“Honestly I feel like CHOP needs to move forward, it needs to separate itself from the negativity,” Malcolm said. “Don’t let anyone discourage you,” he said.
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