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Seattle's "CHOP" zone

Photo credit: Derek Simeone under CC License

The largely peaceful and cooperative sense of community that had been building around Seattle's Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) zone was largely shattered over the weekend by a shooting incident early Saturday morning in which two young black men were shot, one of them fatally. The source of the violence was ascribed to an alcohol-fueled late-night dispute among a group of people who were not directly affiliated with the CHOP project.

However, there was another shooting that night: Two hours later, only a block away, an African-American man claimed that a group of white men who used racial epithets shot him five times. He told KIRO-7 TV that he believed the men were some of the "Proud Boys" who have been prowling the fringes of CHOP and assaulting people.

DeJuan Young, 33, told reporters that he had been near the earlier shooting that night inside the CHOP zone and fled the scene. It was when he reached the intersection of 11th and Pike that he found himself accosted by a group of white men, one of whom pulled out a gun and shot him five times. The force of the gunshots pushed him onto the hood of a car.

"So basically I was shot by, I'm not sure if they're 'Proud Boys' or KKK," Young told KIRO. "But the verbiage that they said was hold this 'N-----' and shot me."

"I'm positive this was a hate crime," Young told KING-5 News. "When he shot me, the recoil and the surprise pushed me on top of the hood of the vehicle. At that time, he stood over top of me and continued to shoot. And I tried to block myself."

The early Saturday morning shootings erupted near the CHOP entrance on Pine Street and 10th Avenue. Video showed a brawl erupting amid a large crowd there, followed by a burst of gunfire and people screaming and fleeing the area. Witnesses reported that persons inside a black van were responsible for the shooting.

Horace Lorenzo Anderson, 19, died at Harborview Medical Center from his wounds. Another man, an unidentified 33-year-old, wounded about a block away, remains listed in critical condition at Harborview.

The responses of police officers and Seattle Fire Department medical teams shortly became the focus of dispute between CHOP organizers and authorities. CHOP activists blocked police from entering the crime scene, which Seattle Police Department officials blamed for their inability—and that of medical teams—to reach the victims. CHOP organizers, however, say that police only arrived after the victims had already been transported by private vehicles to the hospital, and that no one interfered with medical teams on the scene.

There was a second shooting Sunday night in which a 17-year-old teenager was shot under circumstances that remain murky because the victim declined to cooperate with police. The shootings remain under investigation.

DeJuan Young's shooting an hour after the early Saturday gunfire was overlooked both by police and medical teams, as well as most media at the time that it happened. Young told KIRO that despite even though he was well outside the CHOP zone, volunteer medics from the zone ultimately drove him to Harborview.

Alex Bennett, a former nurse, told KIRO that he and several CHOP volunteer medics took him to Harborview in a private vehicle. "Someone said, 'OK, then we're going to get a van since no ambulance is coming,'" said Bennett. "'We have to get this guy to a hospital.'"

Young said he was told that Seattle fire medics were waiting for a police escort that failed to materialize. "I understand everybody's going to say, 'Oh, it was the CHAZ zone and ya'll asked for the police not to be there, so don't act like ya'll need them now," said Young. "But technically I was outside that area," he added. "I was in Seattle streets. So what's the excuse now?"

The possibility of the involvement of Proud Boys was heightened by the ongoing presence of well-known members of far-right street-brawling gangs throughout the week, notably on the fringes of the CHOP zone. Tusitala "Tiny" Toese and a gang of his Proud Boy and white-nationalist associates were videotaped earlier in the week assaulting a man and destroying his cell phone on a neighborhood side street near the zone.

Toese was later arrested in Portland for violating the terms of his parole on a Portland assault conviction. KOIN-TV reported that he had failed to clear the trip to Seattle with his parole officers.


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