The de facto leader of Seattle's autonomous protest zone said Wednesday “a lot” of protesters have already left the area following a call days earlier from the mayor for protesters to clear out.
The Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) in a statement posted to Twitter on Wednesday said that “very few” people remain in the protest zone and the “CHOP project is now concluded.”
The statement was signed by the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest Solidarity Committee.”
An important message from #CHOP #CHOPSeattle. Please amplify. Thank you for your support over the last two weeks. #ChopWasASuccess #CHOPcomms #CHOPCHAZ ☂️☂️☂️ #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/7e5ISrWvX6— Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (Official Account) (@CHOPOfficialSEA) June 24, 2020
Hip-hop artist and de facto CHOP leader Raz Simone also told CNN that many protesters have already left the zone after some were getting harmed.
“The protesters of CHAZ [Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone] have targets on their backs, and that is an issue," Simone told CNN. "A lot of peaceful protesters are being harmed, so it's sad that's where we're at in America."
As a result, Simone told CNN that “a lot of people are going to leave,” adding that “a lot of people already left.”
The CHOP committee said in its statement it expects “a very small handful of holdouts to remain in the CHOP” but said no further organizing will occur to support the presence. The committee said it will shift into a phase of virtual activism.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) said Monday the city’s police department would return to the abandoned East Precinct after a weekend during which three people were shot in the autonomous zone.
She said that protests would still be allowed, but authorities would try to scale back evening activities by asking them to voluntarily leave rather than use force.
“It’s time for people to go home, it is time for us to restore ... Capitol Hill so it can be a vibrant part of the community,” Durkan said, according to The Seattle Times. “The impacts on the businesses and residents and the community are now too much.”
Thousands of protesters have occupied the area in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood since June 8 as part of demonstrations over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in late May.