Store owners in Seattle's 'CHOP' protest zone say they fear for business and safety

Stuck precariously in the middle of the conflict between Seattle police and protesters are area businesses in and around the CHOP protest zone.

Some business owners said they can feel the rising tension in the protest zone and fear for both the businesses and their safety.

Things were relatively calm during the day, Tuesday, at the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone, or 'CHOP'. However, people who live and work in the area said they’ve witnessed activity drastically change on a daily basis.

Several business owners told Q13 News they did not want their name, face or business on camera in fear of retaliation. One business owner, who asked to keep his name and store private, said on top of the struggles from the COIVD-19 pandemic, he has lost an additional 30 percent in sales because people are afraid to visit the area.

“It just feels like we’re helpless and nobody is listening to our needs,” said the business owner.

Though he did not want to share his name, the business owner and resident shared the sentiment of many in the Capitol Hill community. He said several business owner’s have called for help, but their plea fell on the deaf ears of city leaders.

“We feel like they don’t care, or they don’t really see us. Maybe we’re just collateral damage to all of this. But we’re still here, we pay our taxes, we’re law abiding people. And I feel like they need to do more things for us,” said the business owner. “They’re all just pointing fingers and trying to get more political power out of this rather than dealing with it for the people.”

For days, the CHOP protest zone has taken over several blocks near the Seattle Police Department’s east precinct. Business owners said what started as a powerful demand for reform has gotten out of control.

“Yes, there needs to be reforms. But I feel like we can’t do it in this manner—occupying places and kind of canceling everybody’s ideas and discussions. We’re just separating ourselves further,” said the business owner. “None of us disagree with how this movement got started. But I think that it’s time that we get our lives back. We need to get back to work.”

Getting back to work has been fearful for those who have a job in the area. Along with three recent shootings near the protest zone, police are also investigating the assault of a store manager who was trying to clear the road for a delivery.

The business owner said now-a-days he can’t even get deliveries to his block.

“I’ve had vendors who refuse to come up here because they’re just worried about leaving their truck anywhere far. Customers don’t come by anymore,” said the business owner.

The people of CHOP have signs posted at every entrance of the protest zone. The signs read, “We are not leaving until our demands are met.” One of the demands listed calls for the defunding of the police department.