Shawn Whiting, a video game designer, was inside Cal Anderson Park when a man wearing a face mask told him to stop filming an area filled with tents, according to a video posted to Twitter on Thursday.
"What’s the problem with the tents?" Whiting replies.
"This is where I live. It’s our houses," the man said. "Can I come to your house and take photos of your house?"
"No, but my house isn’t a public park," said Whiting.
"This is not a public park anymore," the man says. "This is the CHOP zone. You know that."
"I'm telling you this and you respect what I'm saying... for your own safety," he added. "You're listening to me right now."
He said no media was allowed in the zone and that the footage needed to be deleted. Whiting tried walking away but the man grabbed his jacket and backpack in an attempt to detain him, prompting Whiting to yell for help.
“What do you mean help? Who’s going to help you?” someone said off-camera.
Whiting said he was forced to delete the video footage. He told KOMO News someone else was re-streaming his live stream, meaning the confrontation was captured.
“It was pure terror in the moment of I’m screaming for help and nobody’s coming over to help me they’re coming over to reinforce this guy,” he told the news station. “He had a good hold of me from behind and wasn’t letting me leave."
"I’ve seen people with weapons," he added. "I didn’t know if he was going to put a knife in me or put a gun to my head, I didn’t know what was going to happen.”
Whiting later tweeted that CHOP organizers said the man was not part of their movement.
One of the protest leaders denounced the confrontation.
“That’s not beneficial and trying to assault people just trying to document is not OK,” Maurice Cola told the outlet. “This is still a public place and we’re not going to violate anyone for doing and utilizing their rights properly.”
Business owners and residents within "cop-free" zone have voiced safety concerns over the lack of authority in the area. The zone was initially formed around six blocks in downtown Seattle where a police station was abandoned during protests over the police-involved death of George Floyd.
Protest leaders and the city agreed to scale the so-called sovereign zone back to three blocks to allow traffic.