Seattle left-wing council member slapped down for claims CHOP shooting was work of right-wing agitators

A left-wing Seattle council member’s claims that the fatal weekend shooting in the so-called CHOP zone may have been the work of right-wing agitators were checked by both Mayor Jenny Durkan and protest organizers.

Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant speculated Saturday in a statement, without citing evidence, that the killing of a 19-year-old man was a possible “right-wing attack.”

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“Though we await confirmation of the details of the killing, there are indications that this may have been a right-wing attack,” said Sawant, who represents the Capitol Hill neighborhood where demonstrators have cordoned off several blocks and occupied a police precinct. The area has been dubbed the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, or CHOP.

Sawant further blamed President Trump and “conservative and corporate media outlets” for misrepresenting the occupation zone as chaotic and stoking “right-wing hate.”

She added: "Seattle’s establishment Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best also share responsibility for having portrayed our protest movement as violent."

However, a spokesperson for Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan released a statement saying it is too early to speculate on what led to the shooting or who committed it, KOMO News reported.

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“It is premature to determine or speculate about the cause of the shooting, or the perpetrators, including whether it was connected or related to any of the protests occurring on Capitol Hill," the statement said.

CHOP organizers said in a statement obtained by KING-TV that those involved in the shooting may have known each other and "the situation escalated because of gang affiliations,” although police have not confirmed that gangs were involved in the shooting.

A person who said he goes by the name James Madison, second from right, carries a rifle as he walks Saturday inside what has been named the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone in Seattle. Madison is part of the volunteer security team who have been working inside the CHOP zone, and said he and other armed volunteers were patrolling Saturday to keep the area safe. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

A person who said he goes by the name James Madison, second from right, carries a rifle as he walks Saturday inside what has been named the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone in Seattle. Madison is part of the volunteer security team who have been working inside the CHOP zone, and said he and other armed volunteers were patrolling Saturday to keep the area safe. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Jake Scheels, who has broadcast from within the area on Facebook Live, told the station that the situation escalated after people partying in the street set off fireworks. He also said alcohol may have played a role and did not see anything like Sawant described in her statement.

CHOP organizers tweeted on Sunday a list of potential changes to the zone to increase safety and “encourage CHOP to stop being a chaotic, immobile zone in the late/early morning hours.”

Some changes included creating “safe use” areas for alcohol or drug use, asking those who are intoxicated to keep “a safe distance away” from the zone. They also proposed new hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., admitting that “the late hours of CHOP tend to give way to some problematic behavior.”

The shooting, which happened early Saturday in the protest zone, left a 19-year-old man dead and another man hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. No arrests have been made in the ongoing investigation.

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Reports of a second shooting in the zone that left a victim in serious condition came overnight Sunday. Police were unable to confirm the shooting and said in a tweet that there have been conflicting reports.