The city of Seattle began tearing down barricades around the Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone, or CHOP, Tuesday — but protesters quickly jumped in to preserve the cop-free area, according to local reports.
Crews with the city’s Department of Transportation started removing concrete barriers at around 9:20 a.m. at the intersection of 10th and East Pine, on the outskirts of the blocks-long area occupied by demonstrators for about three weeks, TV-station KIRO7 News reported.
Shortly after, people moved to create makeshift roadblocks out of anything they could find — including garbage cans, furniture and plywood signs, the station reported.
City officials previously said barricades around the protest zone would come down on Sunday, but they stayed intact through Monday.
Currently, there are no immediate plans to remove the barriers directly surrounding the Seattle Police’s East Precinct, Assistant Chief Adrian Diaz told the station.
The precinct was abandoned earlier this month following standoffs and clashes with demonstrators calling for racial justice and an end to police brutality.
Police have mostly stayed out of the zone since, saying they would only respond during life-threatening emergencies.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said last week that cops would soon begin returning to the precinct, but didn’t provide a timeline.
On Tuesday, Seattle Public Utilities also removed a handwashing station next to Cal Anderson Park in the area, in an attempt to incentivize people camped out there to clear out.
Outreach workers will be on-hand in the area Tuesday to help people find other places to stay, KIRO7 reported.
The moves to begin dismantling the protest zone came after a shooting there early on Monday left a 16-year-old boy dead and a 14-year-old boy wounded.
The violence occurred just over a week after a 19-year-old man was killed and a 33-year-old man injured in another shooting in the zone.
“Enough is enough,” Police Chief Carmen Best said Monday. “We need to be able to get back into the area.”