(TMU) – After facing off with protesters outside of their Capitol Hill precinct in Seattle for several days, police abandoned their posts on Monday night, which allowed activists to gather around the building that the department had been defending. Instead of burning the precinct down, the activists left the windows boarded up and spent much of the evening having civilized debates about how to handle the situation.
By the next morning, the protesters had established a 6 block area around the police precinct and declared the region an “autonomous zone.” Since this neighborhood has traditionally been a gathering spot for activists and the LGBTQ community, many of the area’s businesses and residents were already in support of the protests and quick to agree to the new arrangement.
I’m outside of the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct for @townhallcom. Police have pulled out of the area and protesters have set up barricades in the streets. They have declared it a “Cop Free Zone.” pic.twitter.com/iYFQ9B4jhz
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) June 9, 2020
— FERAL ASSWOLF (@FeralAsswolf) June 9, 2020
However, an article from FOX News has suggested that not all of the residents are entirely welcoming, and the police are making unsubstantiated claims that activists have been asking for money from local businesses. Police are now threatening to charge the activists with extortion, but thus far no business owners have come forward to the media with reports of extortion.
The police also claim that there are plans to burn down the precinct, which has been standing all week in their absence. These claims have been dismissed as propaganda by many of the protesters, who say that their activities in the neighborhood are welcome and peaceful. The Seattle Times interviewed other residents of the neighborhood were supportive of the movement, and expressed frustration about the tactics used by police the week before.
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) June 10, 2020
Local resident Sophia Lee told the Times that the police leaving town was a relief, because the low flying helicopters were keeping the whole neighborhood up at night and the tear gas would often leak into nearby apartment buildings. Lee said that she was interested to see what becomes of this unprecedented social experiment.
“I do wonder if that’s going to work long term or not, but, I’m willing to see and find out,” Lee said of the autonomous zone.
Pay attention to Seattle.
After days of protest the police abandoned the center of town.
What happened next? People set up barricades, bathrooms, handed out food + water.
Police want you to think that without them there will be chaos. But what if without them there was peace?
— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) June 9, 2020
Other residents expressed concerns about the barricades that were set up in the neighborhood or the fact that some of the protesters patrolling the streets were armed.
On Tuesday night, hundreds of protesters in Seattle took over city hall and were demanding the resignation of Mayor Jenny Durkan. The protesters were joined by Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant, who was also present on Monday night when the police precinct was taken over.
— AJ Janavel (@ajjanavelnews) June 10, 2020
City hall is empty the protesters peacefully left around 10pm. pic.twitter.com/DLwVv88t0k
— AJ Janavel (@ajjanavelnews) June 10, 2020
— Jake Goldstein-Street (@GoldsteinStreet) June 10, 2020
US President Donald Trump has called for the immediate removal of the autonomous zone, and has labeled the organizers “domestic terrorists” and “warlords.”
The President really put a hit on my head. I’m not a Terrorist Warlord. Quit spreading that false narrative. The world has NEVER been ready for a strong black man. We have been peaceful and nothing else. If I die don’t let it be in vain. pic.twitter.com/HSEs5C2QRv
— Raz Simone (@RazSimone) June 11, 2020
Police say that they have made attempts to reach out to the organizers of the protests to negotiate their safe return to the police precinct, but they are having trouble finding a leader to make deals with because the movement is so decentralized. Also, these negotiations may prove to be difficult, considering that one of the primary demands of the protesters is the full abolition of the police and a restructuring of the criminal justice system.
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