The de facto leader of the autonomous protest zone in Seattle said Wednesday “a lot of people have already” left the area, days after the mayor said she was going to persuade people to leave.
A statement from a Twitter account that claims to be associated with the protest zone – known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), or Capitol Hill Organized Protest – said that “few people remain in our beloved CHOP.”
The statement, signed by “The Capitol Hill Occupied Protest Solidarity Committee,” added that “the CHOP project is now concluded.”
Thousands of protesters have occupied the area, a four- to six-block portion of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, since June 8 in an effort to demand police reform and in reaction to the death of George Floyd.
However, in recent days, at least four shootings have been reported in the area, one of which left a person dead.
Hip-Hop artist and de facto CHOP leader Raz Simone acknowledged that the protesters have drawn attention from critics.
“The protesters of CHAZ 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 said “a lot of people are going to leave – a lot of people already left.”
Mayor Jenny Durkan said Monday that “it’s time for people to go home,” as she announced that her office would be working to get protesters to clear the area.
Seattle community leader Andre Taylor, who has been tasked by Durkan to try to get people to leave peacefully, said Wednesday the original motivation for CHOP was lost after the violence. He told CNN that from his point of view, CHOP is over.
“It is over because of the violence,” Taylor told CNN, adding, “I’ve told people here don’t be focused on the location. CHOP is not a location, it is an idea.”
Neither Durkan nor the police offered a timeline for clearing the encampment, but the statement from the group said they were told it would occur “no later than early next week.”
The statement from the CHOP committee said it expects “a very small number of holdouts” but that they will be “too small to be more than an annoyance for pedestrians rather than a zonal blockade.”
CNN’s Dan Simon and Anna-Maja Rappard contributed to this report.