Several Republicans on Wednesday voiced their support for the end of the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) as the Seattle Police Department, at the order of Mayor Jenny Durkan, rolled through the area that saw five shootings and two deaths in the three weeks it had been declared "police free" by its occupants.
An executive order from Durkan issued ahead of the clearing authorized police to move into the area which Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best called "lawless and brutal" in a statement. By 9:25 a.m. PST, according to the police department, officers had made 31 arrests including one person who "was in possession of a large metal pipe and kitchen knife when he was taken into custody." The Seattle Police Department also discovered homemade spike strips meant to prevent cars from entering the CHOP area.
"Finally," tweeted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "Twenty-some days and several deaths too late. The rule of law must not fade in and out with the fashions of the radical left."
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, took to mocking the autonomous zone.
"Boy, nation-states seem to be lasting shorter & shorter," he said in one tweet.
"Is it still the Summer of Love? #NowThatCHAZIsGone," Cruz said in another.
Cruz's "Summer of Love" tweet referenced a quote from Durkan during the early stages of the CHOP zone as she initially seemed uninterested in reclaiming the six-block area of her city that included a police precinct, which officers were forced to abandon, and several businesses, which business-owners could not get to.
Durkan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee both were initially resistant to dismantling CHOP as President Trump mocked them online and offered the National Guard to clear the area upon their request.
"I spoke with @MayorJenny and her team about the situation on Capitol Hill," Inslee said in a tweet on June 11. "Although unpermitted, and we should remember we are still in a pandemic, the area is largely peaceful. Peaceful protests are fundamentally American, and I am hopeful there will be a peaceful resolution."
Durkan, responding to Trump in one tweet, said "Seattle is fine Don't be so afraid of Democracy."
Following that dustup among Trump, the mayor and the governor, there were five shootings and two deaths in CHOP, which was eventually cleared not by the National Guard, but by the Seattle Police Department.
"It’s sad that it took two deaths for the Seattle mayor to finally realize what we’ve known all along," Rep Doug Collins, R-Ga., said. "WE NEED OUR POLICE!"
Republicans outside of Congress weighed in as well.
"The mayor’s job is to ensure public safety," said Ari Fleischer, the former press secretary for the George W. Bush administration. "This should have been done three weeks ago."
"It's unfortunate that it took this long for the Mayor of Seattle to realize how big of a disaster this autonomous zone was," Nathan Brand, the press secretary for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), added.
Shortly after the CHOP zone was disbanded on Wednesday, McConnell's campaign released an advertisement narrated by the senator slamming Democrats, like Durkan, for allowing "mobs" to run amok, destroying monuments to people like George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant, and taking over parts of cities like Seattle.
"Now the mobs have come for our founders and our heroes. Washington. Jefferson. Lincoln," McConnell says. "Governors and mayors stood down and watched criminals spray paint churches, topple statues and harass police. Seattle's mayor lets gangs ban police from several square blocks. People have been killed."
Durkan's order on Wednesday, despite Best's statement that CHOP was "lawless and brutal," did praise the people of CHOP, saying "much of the expression has been peaceful and created community solidarity for Black Lives Matter, including features such as a community garden, public art, and conversation corner..."