The mayor of Seattle has endorsed "First Amendment activities" in a six-block area taken over by demonstrators for more than a week, saying it was "preserving a space" for an area reportedly created to demonstrate a society without law enforcement.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan's office issued a statement Tuesday indicating the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, or CHOP, formerly known as the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), "has emerged as a gathering place where community members can demand change of their local, state, and federal government.
"While there have been inaccurate and misleading depictions of the CHOP from the president and some national media, the city believes first amendment activities can continue while also maintaining public safety and allowing access for residents and businesses who operate in the area," the statement read.
"Preserving a space for demonstrators to come together is one of several actions the city has taken to respond to the community's call for change," it adds.
Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best claimed the department did not "abandon the precinct" in Seattle's Capitol Hill area despite removing all officers from the area.
Best told ABC News last week, she was all in favor of free speech but the CHOP, or CHAZ, "is not that."
She also said at the time that police were planning on returning to the area, but Tuesday's statement indicated that has been at least suspended.
Durkan's statement said police will respond to emergency situations within the six-block area.
"The Seattle Police Department will dispatch to respond to significant life-safety issues in the area," it reads. "The Seattle Police Department's definition of life-safety issues may include an active shooter incident, an assault, a structure fire, significant medical emergency (i.e. heart attack, stroke, trauma) and other incidents that threaten a person's life safety."
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