Amazon customers living in and around the protest area in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood are having trouble getting their orders delivered.
Originally called the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” or “CHAZ,” the area was set up in the wake of prolonged protests after George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis in May. Seattle Police abandoned a precinct in the area to de-escalate tensions with protestors.
Now known as “Capitol Hill Organized Protest,” or “CHOP,” the zone — just blocks from Amazon’s headquarters — has shrunk in recent days but vehicle traffic is still closed off on a two-block stretch across East Pine Street.
Access to some apartment buildings and businesses remains difficult. Several people reported issues on Reddit this week.
“Starting Saturday every delivery has been ‘undeliverable’ … I’m SO frustrated,” Reddit user jess_611 wrote.
“We’ve had this issue at 12th and Madison with four packages,” LMGooglyTFY wrote. “We called and they tried to say it was damaged in delivery. Four separate packages. What service are we paying for again?”
In response to a GeekWire inquiry, Amazon spokesperson Rena Lunak said “we have adjusted some routes in the area and continue to evaluate the situation closely.”
The Capitol Hill protest has made national news and caused controversy. President Trump described it as a “Radical Left takeover” and threatened to take action, despite reports of peaceful activities including public speaking, music, street art, food handouts, and more.
Amazon deliveries come inside Prime-branded vans that are part of its Delivery Service Partners program; from everyday drivers working for Amazon’s Flex program; or from third-party services including USPS, UPS, and smaller delivery firms. It’s unclear how each method is implementing protocols for deliveries at the protest area.
Reddit user Squints1978, who claims to work for Amazon, said “it is completely left up to the driver to proceed with the delivery or not depending if they feel safe and if there is/isn’t a safe delivery place.”
One delivery driver expressed concern after being assigned deliveries around CHOP.
“I asked for a new route just because I don’t want to risk anything since this is my main source of income,” Reddit user shrimpynut wrote. “Luckily I was one of the first cars to arrive and they gave me a better route. I have so many packages I just didn’t want any problems since the police won’t come near the area.”
The City of Seattle said Tuesday that police would be dispatched “to respond to significant life-safety issues in the area.”
Reddit user nerevisigoth said “I know I wouldn’t want to drive an Amazon-branded van into a ‘cop-free’ area inhabited by volatile people who really hate Amazon.”
Marcus Kulick, a motion graphics designer in Seattle, ordered items to a location inside CHOP and was successful.
#seattleprotest #seattleprotestcomms I have some additional camera gear being shipped to inside CHAZ, as well as important medication i get through an online pharmacy. Can we all make sure that mail carriers are welcome and feel safe here? 1/2
— Subpixel Alchemist (@MarcusKulik) June 10, 2020
Can't confirm if it was an amazon driver, but the orders were through amazon. I've had mail through USPS and UPS so far.
— Subpixel Alchemist (@MarcusKulik) June 18, 2020
One option for customers is to send packages to a nearby Amazon Locker; there are about a dozen or so within a 1-mile radius from CHOP.
Some have noted the juxtaposition between tech workers living in Capitol Hill and the protestors inside CHOP.
Very interesting piece on the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone but I still want to know how the Amazon employees who now live in the middle of an anarchist nation are getting along with their new neighbors https://t.co/OzydNWXj5n
— Katie Herzog (@kittypurrzog) June 11, 2020
Bloomberg reported that Amazon had adjusted delivery routes and “scaled back typical operations” in cities where protests occurred the weekend following Floyd’s death on May 25.
Amazon put out a statement on May 31 condemning “the inequitable and brutal treatment of Black people in our country.”
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has been publishing messages of solidarity with the protestors to social media, including his responses to customers who are angry with Amazon’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
A protest led by Seattle councilmember Kshama Sawant that ended up inside City Hall last week elicited chants of “Tax Amazon!”
Earlier this week the Council introduced a new proposal to tax the largest companies in the city, the latest in a series of attempts to capture some of the wealth generated by Amazon, Expedia, and other big businesses to address critical challenges.