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Abstract

Capitol Hill is a gentrified urban neighborhood in Seattle, Washington. In the summer of 2020, it became home to the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP), a protest occupation that emerged out of the George Floyd protests against police brutality and other systemic injustices in Black communities. Through interviews with residents and an analysis of local and national media on the event, this paper assesses how Capitol Hill residents responded to and understood CHOP. It finds that Capitol Hill residents’ reactions to CHOP interacted with their understandings of Capitol Hill, along with who and what belongs there. While this led some resident to tend toward support for CHOP and other residents to tend toward opposition, this paper shows that ambivalence and mixed emotions prevailed in reactions to CHOP, as many sympathized with the protesters but felt increasingly uncomfortable about the instability in their neighborhood. Ultimately, my paper highlights the interplay between understandings of space and reactions to protest. In the case of CHOP, neighborhood context did not play a background role. Rather residents’ relationships with their neighborhood played a vital role in how they understood the protest.

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