Ross: Can changes to the CHOP help bring peace?
After complaints from local residents that perpetual protests in the CHOP are strangling minority-owned businesses, keeping people awake at night, and making it difficult for aid trucks and garbage collection, the head of the Seattle Department of Transportation negotiated an agreement to replace the unofficial barricades with new official barricades.
“We expanded the area up here to make sure we had enough space for protests, we’re putting in these concrete blocks; plywood on top of that so we could have community protest expression,” said SDOT’s Sam Zimbabwe.
By which he means graffiti! Yes! Workers actually covered the new barricades with plywood to make them graffiti-friendly.
New barricades in the CHOP also protect the deserted police precinct, as well as the huge Black Lives Matter community street mural.
But that’s not all. Like most cities, Seattle has carpool-only lanes, bus-only lanes and bike-only lanes. But now, it may be the first city in America to provide a protester-approved protest-only lane, right next to a deserted police precinct.
I know that people think the city is crazy to be so accommodating – and yet since police vacated that precinct, there’s been no common enemy to yell at. That’s made it so that whenever shouting breaks out, it’s between the various groups within the crowd itself. How crazy is that?
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