Trump tells Seattle to 'take back city' as police look to reopen precinct in 'cop-free zone'
Assistant Chief Deanna Nollette said her agency will work with the community to address systemic issues that negatively impact people of color
SEATTLE — Following days of violent confrontations with protesters, police in Seattle have largely withdrawn from a neighborhood that protesters have transformed into a festival-like scene that has President Donald Trump fuming.
Trump taunted Gov. Jay Inslee and Mayor Jenny Durkan about the situation on Twitter and said the city had been taken over by “anarchists."
“Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will,” Trump tweeted.
Radical Left Governor @JayInslee and the Mayor of Seattle are being taunted and played at a level that our great Country has never seen before. Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will. This is not a game. These ugly Anarchists must be stopped IMMEDIATELY. MOVE FAST!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 11, 2020
The “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” sprung up after police on Monday removed barricades near the East Precinct and basically abandoned the structure after officers used tear gas, pepper spray and flash bangs over the weekend to disperse demonstrators they said were assaulting them with projectiles.
The president has sparred before with Inslee and Durkan — both liberal Democrats. Inslee previously sought his party's presidential nomination.
Inslee tweeted Thursday that state officials will not allow threats of military violence from the White House.
“The U.S. military serves to protect Americans, not the fragility of an insecure president,” he tweeted.
And back to the CHAZ now, where they’re about to start watching a documentary and have a huge sign that says “This space is now property of the Seattle people.” #seattleprotest pic.twitter.com/eArnU1NEy4— Jake Goldstein-Street (@GoldsteinStreet) June 10, 2020
The zone set up by protesters stretches across several blocks on Capitol Hill, where dozens of people show up to listen to speakers calling for police reform, racial justice and compensation for Native groups on whose land the city of Seattle was founded.
Signs proclaim “You are entering free Capitol Hill” and “No cop co-op” along sidewalks where people sell water and other wares.
“From what I’ve gathered, we’re trying to take our community back so we can live without a massive police force patrolling the streets,” Michael Taylor told The Seattle Times.
Over the weekend, police were sharply criticized by City Council members and other elected leaders. Since officers dialed back their tactics, the demonstrations have largely been peaceful.
Police officials say they are looking to reopen the precinct. At a news conference Wednesday, Assistant Chief Deanna Nollette said the barriers were removed from the front of the building after it became a flashpoint between officers and protesters.
Seattle Police Department now says “Seattle People Department.”— Deedee Sun (@DeedeeKIRO7) June 10, 2020
Officers cleared out of the area, took down barricades, and boarded up the East Precinct as a way to de-escalate the situation.
People tell me they can now protest peacefully without fear. @KIRO7Seattle pic.twitter.com/Rioi4dp0OH
Nollette said the precinct has been boarded up because of credible threats that it would be vandalized or burned. She offered no details about the threats and no fires have been reported at the site.
She said protesters have set up their own barricades, which are intimidating some residents.
“We are dedicated to working with peaceful protesters on a way to move forward,” Nollette said.
Seattle Police said today they’re “working on re-opening a dialogue” w/ protestors on how to move foward. To improve policing relations & racial equity.— Deedee Sun (@DeedeeKIRO7) June 11, 2020
& said, “We’d love nothing more than to be able to open our precinct.”
Some protestors want it to become a community center. pic.twitter.com/1VXuCIgWi8
Protesters have said they want to see the precinct turned into a community center or used for purposes other than law enforcement.
City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant on Thursday disputed accounts of violence or intimidation by protesters within the area on Capitol Hill and said it was more like a street fair with political discussions and a drum circle.
"The right wing has been spreading rumors that there is some sort of lawlessness and crime taking place at the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, but it is exactly the opposite of that,” said Sawant, a socialist and a critic of Durkan and the police.
Sawant said she wants the precinct to be "converted into a public resource that will actually be helpful to society.”