Changes coming to the CHOP to improve public safety, local access
The Capitol Hill Organized Protest, a six-block area in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood near the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct, has been blocked off for more than a week as protesters continue to demand change and justice.
Conversations between city officials, organizers of CHOP, residents, and businesses have continued over the past week, as Seattle city leaders have repeatedly expressed that the activities of the protesters are protected as First Amendment rights. The city says it remains committed to maintaining space for the community to protest as changes are made to improve safety and increase access to apartment buildings and businesses in the area.
Minor changes to the zone will include safer, sturdier barriers that protect the public’s safety and allow for traffic to move throughout the neighborhood. These changes involve rerouting traffic, freeing up alley access, opening streets, and replacing makeshift barriers with heavy concrete barriers that can be painted. Work began early Tuesday in coordination with protesters to remove a tent barrier at 10th and Pine and replace it with a concrete barrier.
One of the top priorities is opening 12th Avenue, which will become one-way on the south side of Pine Street to accommodate a protest zone in the west lanes and vehicles in the east lanes.
The street with the ‘Black Lives Matter’ art, next to Cal Anderson Park, will remain closed.
Plans were also made with the goal of increased access for emergency personnel, including the Seattle Fire Department.
Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins, Seattle Department of Transportation Director Sam Zimbabwe, and Seattle Public Utilities General Manager Mami Hara have been on site at CHOP every day, and held a meeting Sunday with organizers, businesses, and residents to suggest proposed changes.
“The Seattle Police Department will dispatch to respond to significant life-safety issues in the area. The Seattle Police Department’s definition of life-safety issues may include an active shooter incident, an assault, a structure fire, significant medical emergency (i.e. heart attack, stroke, trauma) and other incidents that threaten a person’s life safety,” according to the release from the Mayor’s Office.
Read the full statement online here.