The Seattle Police Department said that Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) is not a cop-free zone, but Daily Caller reporters on the ground heard a different story.
CHAZ, recently renamed the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP), has dubbed itself a cop-free zone and includes the police department’s East Precinct, which was abandoned by officers. Some officers returned to the precinct June 11 and the Seattle PD previously told the Daily Caller that as of June 12, there were officers inside of the building.
The Daily Caller had three reporters in CHAZ from June 12 – 16 and, in that time, did not see a single uniformed officer. It is unclear if the officers remained in the building after the June 12 statement. The Associated Press reported Tuesday that despite CHAZ claiming itself as a cop-free zone, the department says it is not.
“There is no cop-free zone in the city of Seattle,” Chief Carmen Best said Monday according to the AP. “I think that the picture has been painted in many areas that shows the city is under siege. That is not the case.”
The Seattle PD specifically pointed out an incident Sunday evening where a local business owner said he called 911 repeatedly and no one arrived to help. The business owner, John McDermott, was calling about a break-in and vandalism, according to the AP.
“The officers responded to the call and they observed the location from a distance. They did not see any signs of smoke or fire or anything else and they did not see a disturbance,” according to Best.
Daily Caller reporters were present immediately following this alleged break-in when a mob of people from inside CHAZ came for the business after a false report that a man was being held at gunpoint inside. Three reporters present did not see any cops and no cops appeared to arrive when the mob came for the business.
“I can’t even get the police to show up, I can’t get the fire department to show up,” one man guarding the business told reporters. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE VIDEOS: False Reports Inside CHAZ Cause Angry Mob To Descend On Small Business)
“It sucks that we have to do this,” another man there said. “It sucks that I look at my friends and my family that are part of the police force and they worry more … I’m [more] worried about them than anything else. And they aren’t even allowed in these spots.”
“This needs to get taken over. It needs to be under control. And it is not under control. … The fact that there’s no cop zones, that is disturbing and it is going to ruin the state,” the man continued, adding that it is unsettling that he can’t call cops to help all the peaceful protesters that were trying to deescalate the situation.
Some emotional comments from another man involved in the local business. The business is apparently within the no-cop zone.
“I can’t even get the police to show up, I can’t get the fire department to show up … and this kind of mob stuff, that doesn’t work.” pic.twitter.com/LD3Q8JpL6N
— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) June 15, 2020
It is not immediately clear why Seattle PD officers “observed the location from a distance” if CHAZ and the surrounding area is not a cop-free zone. Numerous men guarding the business told reporters that 911, an emergency line, was called and no cops arrived.
The police department refused to comment on its decision to respond to a 911 call by “observing from a distance,” and similarly refused to confirm if “observing from a distance” was part of standard 911 protocol.
Instead, Seattle PD sent the Caller a map of the CHAZ.
“The Seattle Police Department will respond to significant life-safety issues in the shaded area,” Sergeant Lauren Truscott wrote in a statement.
Authorities did not show up to the scene until the next day, and even then, it was the Seattle fire chief, not the police.
They called 911 a dozen+ times. No police or fire responded. SFD Chief says they’re investigating why. pic.twitter.com/Dv4A8JIvSG
— Deedee Sun (@DeedeeKIRO7) June 15, 2020
“The City of Seattle continues to meet with demonstrators to work toward long-term solutions to issues within this area,” Truscott continued.
“For all other calls originating from this area, dispatchers and officers will attempt to coordinate officer contact outside of these boundaries when feasible. Officers have and will continue to document calls for service that originate within these boundaries.”