Seattle police move in to clear protesters from Chop zone

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The zone was initially known as Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (Chaz)

Police have moved in to clear crowds out of Seattle’s self-governed zone set up by protesters three weeks ago.

A number of people were arrested as heavily equipped officers swept into the area on Wednesday morning following an order by the city mayor.

The Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (Chop) zone was set up amid anger over the death in police custody of African American George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The self-policed protest has a Black Lives Matter mural and communal garden.

Mayor Jenny Durkan said that until now the authorities had “reasonably facilitated an ongoing exercise” of free speech and demonstration rights under the US constitution.

But she said those rights “do not require the city to provide limitless sanctuary to occupy city property, damage city and private property, obstruct the right of way or foster dangerous conditions”.

The mayor also mentioned recent shootings in the area that left two people dead.

President Donald Trump had demanded Washington state and Seattle take action to remove the protesters.

The area was initially known as Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (Chaz), and is in the city’s trendy arts district, which has been gentrified in recent years.

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Protesters also refer to it as the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest, or Chop