Seattle, WA – Seattle police attempted to return Thursday to the East Precinct they were ordered to abandon earlier in the week but were pushed back by hundreds of protesters guarding the cop-free Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) that the mayor has called “patriotic.”
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan denied reports from Seattle police officials that residents and businesses inside the six blocks around the police precinct were being extorted by the protesters who have occupied the area, the New York Post reported.
Durkan also brushed aside reports that police responses to emergencies were taking three times as long because of the occupied zone, which is being guarded by armed protesters who are checking identification and deciding who may not enter the barricaded area.
“Unfortunately, our President wants to tell a story about domestic terrorists who have a radical agenda and are promoting a conspiracy that fits his law-and-order initiatives,” she said. “It’s simply not true. Lawfully gathering and expressing First Amendment rights, demanding we do better as a society, and providing true equity for communities of color is not terrorism. It’s patriotism.”
Durkan has repeatedly tried to frame the illegal takeover as a positive thing for Seattle, despite numerous media reports and videos post to social media that clearly show chaos, FOX News reported.
“We’ve got four blocks in Seattle that you just saw pictures of that is more like a block party atmosphere,” the mayor told CNN. “It’s not an armed takeover. It’s not a military junta. We will make sure that we can restore this. But we have block parties and the like in this part of Seattle all the time. It’s known for that.”
She shrugged off questions about how long the area would remain occupied by protesters.
“We could have the summer of love,” Durkan said.
President Donald Trump has vowed that his administration is “not going to let Seattle be occupied by anarchists,” according to FOX News.
The President took to Twitter on Friday morning to blast the Seattle mayor.
“Seattle Mayor says, about the anarchists takeover of her city, ‘it is a Summer of Love’. These Liberal Dems don’t have a clue. The terrorists burn and pillage our cities, and they think it is just wonderful, even the death. Must end this Seattle takeover now!” he tweeted.
Seattle Mayor says, about the anarchists takeover of her city, “it is a Summer of Love”. These Liberal Dems don’t have a clue. The terrorists burn and pillage our cities, and they think it is just wonderful, even the death. Must end this Seattle takeover now!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2020
The atmosphere: pic.twitter.com/YX35YwvKgY
— Washington State GOP (@WAGOP) June 12, 2020
Police attempted to return to the East Precinct on Thursday afternoon but were met by jeering protesters who wouldn’t let them past concrete barricades, FOX News reported.
Protesters took over a six-block area around that police station on Tuesday night after the mayor and Police Chief Carmen Best ordered police to abandon the building amid rumors of rioters coming to burn it down, KOMO reported.
The area occupied by protesters extends out two blocks in each direction from the abandoned police precinct.
Chief Best said Thursday that “leaving the precinct was not my decision” and expressed outrage about what was happening, FOX News reported.
Seattle Assistant Police Chief Deanna Nolette told KOMO that police had received reports of armed people intimidating those who were trying to enter the occupied area.
“While Washington is an open carry state, there is no legal right for those arms to be used intimidate community members,” Chief Nolette said.
She said it was illegal for citizens to operate a checkpoint on a public street, KOMO reported.
The assistant chief also said she was aware of the reports of extortion.
“We have heard anecdotally of citizens and businesses being asked to pay a fee to operate within this area; this is crime of extortion,” Chief Nolette said.
Protesters who were interviewed by the media denied there was any armed extortion happening inside the cop-free zone, but authorities have been unable thus far to identify a leader of the group with whom they can negotiate to retake the area, KOMO reported.
The lack of organized leadership has some officers wondering how the city will ever clear the occupied area peacefully and if the East Precinct will ever be a police station again, KCPQ reported.
Some experts have said the city needs to move quickly to take back the area, even if they have to do so by force.
“They’re going to have to be dealt with, it can’t continue like that,” Jim Fuda, a law enforcement expert and the Director of Law Enforcement Services for Crime Stoppers, told KOMO. “Some action is going to have to be taken. Is there federal laws broken? Does the FBI need to come in? But at some point, arrests and these people are going to have to be removed, if they don’t move.”
Meanwhile, the protesters have painted the streets with Black Lives Matter, set up outside movies in the evening, and are patronizing pop-up businesses that have appeared inside the occupied zone around the police precinct.
The group has remained mostly peaceful, KOMO reported.
There are numerous social media reports that a rapper named Raz Simone has established himself as a “warlord” of the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone and was patrolling the occupied area with an armed entourage, the Daily Mail reported.
The city has no plan to retake the occupied zone at this time, KOMO reported.