Authorities in Seattle, Washington, recently cleared a roughly six-block area that had become known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) zone — and their work received recognition from U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr.
“I commend Police Chief Carmen Best for her courage and leadership in restoring the rule of law in Seattle,” Barr said in a statement regarding the development, according to Breitbart.
“Denied access to police”
The attorney general went on to note that the area “was occupied by protesters who denied access to police and other law enforcement personnel” for a period of weeks.
Reports of gun violence and other disruptions resulted in the decision among local authorities to put an end to a social experiment that grew out of widespread protests against police brutality.
“Unsurprisingly, the area became a haven for violent crime, including shootings that claimed the lives of two young people, assaults, and robberies,” Barr said, according to Breitbart.
He further stressed that “there is a fundamental distinction” between those calling for a deeper discussion on race and those who are openly breaking the law.
As the attorney general noted, “the Constitution protects the right to speak and assemble freely, but it provides no right to commit violence or defy the law, and such conduct has no place in a free society governed by law.”
While protesters involved in establishing the CHOP zone described it as self-policed, news of violence in recent days changed the narrative. Two shootings proved fatal, with one leaving a 19-year-old dead on June 20 and another killing a 16-year-old nine days later.
Video of the second shooting has since emerged, and an individual can be heard saying in one clip: “Oh, you’re not dead, huh? Yo, you wanna get pistol-whipped?”
A second clip features an individual heard in an off-camera remark apologizing because he “ran out of bullets.”
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan initially downplayed the seriousness of the protest, comparing it to a “block party” and insisting that it posed “no threat” to the local communities, according to RealClearPolitics.
President Donald Trump, however, has urged for the dissolution of the occupied zone in Seattle since early after its inception. Given the most recent developments, it appears local leaders have reluctantly gotten on board.