President Donald Trump has demanded that Seattle officials immediately regain control of a six-block zone and police station that have been taken over by armed George Floyd protesters who are demanding the the city’s police department and courts be dissolved.
‘Radical Left Governor [of Washington, Jay Inslee] and the Mayor of Seattle are being taunted and played at a level that our great Country has never seen before,’ Trump tweeted late on Wednesday.
‘Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will. This is not a game. These ugly Anarchists must be stooped [sic] IMMEDIATELY. MOVE FAST!’ he continued. ‘Domestic Terrorists have taken over Seattle, run by Radical Left Democrats, of course. LAW & ORDER!’
It followed astonishing developments in Seattle, where protesters have established what they call the ‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,’ or CHAZ, setting up barricades and armed checkpoints and declaring that police are not allowed inside the zone.
The zone, which includes apartment buildings and businesses, also contains the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct, which cops abandoned on Monday after receiving a threat that the station would be overrun and burned down. A defaced sign outside the precinct now reads ‘Seattle People Department’.
A map created by protesters shows the ‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone’, or CHAZ, in Seattle, where protesters are manning barricades and controlling entry. The CHAZ includes apartments, businesses, and an abandoned police precinct
Armed men are seen manning checkpoints controlling entry to the CHAZ. Police say they have received complaints that protesters are demanding cash to enter the zone, and shaking down businesses inside for ‘protection money’
A man carrying an automatic weapon works security at a checkpoint to the so-called “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” on June 10, 2020 in Seattle, Washington
A defaced sign on the exterior of the Seattle Police Departments East Precinct is seen on Tuesday in Seattle, Washington. The station was abandoned on Monday and is now under the control of the CHAZ authorities
Armed protesters have been spotting manning checkpoints where they check identification and frisk people at entrances to the zone.
Police say they have received complaints that protesters are demanding cash to enter the zone, as well as ‘protection fees’ from businesses under their control.
Seattle Police Assistant Chief Deanna Nollette said at a press conference on Wednesday that, while Washington is an open carry state where firearms are allowed, it is a crime to use them to threaten or intimidate others.
She urged anyone who was subjected to demands by protesters to call 911, describing their alleged behavior as extortion.
However, police sources say that the department is now only responding to priority calls of a violent crime in progress, and it is unclear whether they would be able to do more than take a report over the phone.
Anti-police protesters disputed Nollette’s description of what was happening inside the so-called autonomous zone.
‘This could literally not be less true. It’s incredibly open and peaceful in the CHAZ. The businesses that are open are selling flowers, turning their parking lots into med tents, putting supportive signs in their windows,’ one person tweeted.
Barricades are seen at the perimeter of the CHAZ, declaring the zone to be ‘cop free’
Layers of makeshift barricades protect the protesters inside the CHAZ from any incursion by police
Another barricade declares the CHAZ to be a sovereign entity independent from the United States of America
A sign on a food stand within the CHAZ demands that police be stripped of legal protections they receive on the job
A reporter for KIRO-FM was granted entry to the CHAZ on Tuesday, and said that free food and medical aid was available for demonstrators on every corner.
Some food and supplies were also distributed to the homeless population in the surrounding area, and protesters were organizing a garbage collection for Wednesday, the reporter said.
On Wednesday night, demonstrators in the zone settled in to watch the documentary Paris Is Burning on a portable projector set up in the street. The film focuses on drag queens living in New York City.
However, other reports on social media indicated that not everything was unfolding harmoniously within the CHAZ.
Some claimed that rapper Raz Simone had established himself as a ‘warlord’ within the CHAZ, and was patrolling with armed men.
On Wednesday, video emerged that showed Simone and several other men confronting another man within the CHAZ, accusing him of tagging over someone else’s graffiti.
‘We are the police of this community now!’ one member of the Simone’s entourage is heard telling the man, who shrugs them off and continues tagging the side of a building.
Some claimed that rapper Raz Simone (above) had established himself as a ‘warlord’ within the CHAZ, and was patrolling with armed men to enforce community standards. ‘I’m not a Terrorist Warlord,’ Simone said in a statement
In an altercation with a graffiti artist, Simone (above) or a member of his entourage shouted ‘We are the police now’
Leaked video from inside the CHAZ shows Simone (left and right) confronting a tagger (in tan hat) who was painting over someone else’s graffiti, in an altercation that turned violent
The video shows the confrontation escalate quickly as Simone’s entourage demands the tagger leave, as shoving breaks out and someone shouts ‘chill, chill!’
Shouting continues as the tagger is driven away and followed for several several blocks.
‘For your own safety, you need to go,’ the woman filing the video is heard telling the tagger at one point. ‘We had to get to the point where physically addressing it was the best way to get our point across.’
Simone has called for the long-term occupation of the area, tweeting: ‘Come out now & hold it down.’
‘We’ll be here as long as it takes so bring a tent and a blanket,’ he added.
Simone responded to the president’s tweets on Wednesday night, writing: ‘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.’
Nollette, the police official, said that while there is no police presence inside the zone now, ‘we are working on reopening a dialogue.’
She said that the department hopes to reopen the precinct to so that they can improve Seattle Police’s response time and allow detectives to continue working on criminal investigation cases.
The protesters have said that they will retain control of the zone until their demands are met, including that the Seattle police department be disbanded, and that Mayor Jenny Durkan resign.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Governor Inslee, a Democrat, pleaded ignorance of the CHAZ and said he had not heard of the developments in Seattle.
On Tuesday night, around 300 protesters teporarily took over Seattle City Hall, carrying Black Lives Matter banners and calling for Mayor Durkan to stand down, chanting ‘Durkan must go!’
The group was led by Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who unlocked the building and welcomed the protesters inside.
Footage shared on social media showed demonstrators giving impassioned speeches, saying calls for an end to systemic racism and police brutality following Floyd’s death are ‘making history’.
A defaced sign on the exterior of the Seattle Police Departments East Precinct after protesters kicked out cops and set up a six-block ‘autonomous zone’ as a memorial to George Floyd
On Tuesday, protesters temporarily took over Seattle City Hall (pictured) to demand the mayor’s resignation, after setting up a six-block autonomous zone as a memorial to George Floyd and suing city cops over their aggressive tactics
The group was led by Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who unlocked the building and welcomed the protesters inside
‘Do you guys see what we’re doing here? Do you really I really see the magnitude of what we’re doing here?’ one speaker is heard telling the crowds.
‘First time in this building and we’re making history.’
The crowd camped out inside the government building for only around an hour before continuing to the newly-created ‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone’ – a zone occupied by demonstrators around a police precinct.
Durkan has come under fire over her handling of the civil unrest in the city, with calls mounting for her to resign.
Sawant – a staunch critic of the mayor – demanded Durkan step down and blamed her for the ‘violence and brutality’ of cops against protesters.
‘If Mayor Durkan refuses to step aside, it will be the responsibility of the City Council to remove her, by introducing articles of impeachment,’ Sawant said last week.
Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, a critic of Mayor Jenny Durkan, speaks at a rally on Monday
The peaceful crowd camped out inside the government building for only around an hour before continuing the peaceful march to the newly created ‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone’
The protesters marched through the streets of Seattle to the ‘free zone’ after occupying City Hall for around an hour
‘The police have inflicted tear gas, mace, rubber bullets, flash-bang grenades, curfews, arrests and other repressive tactics on Seattle activists and residents – including children – in an attempt to bully and silence the protest movement.’
Tuesday’s takeover of City Hall came just hours after a Black Lives Matter group sued the city over the ‘unnecessary violence’ carried out by cops against protesters across the city.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, Korematsu Center at Seattle University School of Law and the law firm Perkins Coie filed the lawsuit Tuesday on behalf of Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County.
‘These daily demonstrations are fueled by people from all over the city who demand that police stop using excessive force against Black people, and they demand that Seattle dismantle its racist systems of oppression,’ Livio De La Cruz, board member of Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County, said in a statement about the suit.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (pictured) has come under fire over her handling of the civil unrest in the city, with calls mounting for her to resign
People then sit down in the newly-claimed ‘free zone’ to watch a screening of documentary Tuesday night
Graffiti on the outside of the boarded up police precinct. Tuesday’s takeover of City Hall came just hours after a Black Lives Matter group sued the city over the ‘unnecessary violence’ carried out by cops against protesters across the city
‘It is unacceptable that the Seattle Police Department would then respond to these demonstrations with more excessive force, including using tear gas and flashbang grenades.’
The suit says the use of chemical agents violates the Fourth Amendment and First Amendment rights of protesters and brands the use of such tools ‘reckless’ amid the respiratory COVID-19 pandemic.
Cops have been caught on camera acting aggressively and blasting tear gas and pepper spray in the faces of peaceful protesters during the weeks of civil unrest following Floyd’s death on Memorial Day.
Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best issued an apology to demonstrators over the heavy-handed tactics of officers and banned the use of tear gas for at least 30 days from Friday.
Protesters have set up a six-block radius around the East Police Precinct and called it the ‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone’ (above)
A popup shop with free snacks, water, and other items is seen in the autonomous zone – which is now free of cops and cars and occupied by protesters
A sign designates a smoking section in the ‘free zone’. The police chief said the move by cops to leave the area is an exercise in ‘trust and deescalation’
People sit in the street outside the East Precinct Tuesday. The area had been the site of tension and terse stand-offs between law enforcement and demonstrators before police boarded up the precinct and retreated from the area
A sign outside the East Precinct. Calls are mounting for the city police department to be defunded
Just two nights later, some cops were still seen using tear gas, pepper spray and blast ball grenades against crowds Sunday night.
‘CS gas has been authorized,’ the Seattle Police Department tweeted Sunday after midnight about the backpedaling.
‘In the interest of public and life safety, leave the area now.’
This came after protests turned violent when a man plowed his car into crowds and shot a 27-year-old protester.
Demonstrators clash with police near the Seattle Police Departments East Precinct shortly after midnight on June 8. The police abandoned the precinct soon after, and the CHAZ was established
The use of tear gas was banned for at least 30 days from Friday but cops were seen hurling it at protesters again Sunday night (above)
Demonstrators clash with law enforcement near the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct shortly after midnight
A protester holds flowers as they face a wall of police in riot gear Sunday night when tensions escalated between the two sides
Protests turned violent Sunday night when a man plowed his car into crowds and shot a 27-year-old protester
Following a backlash over the renewed use of force, officers removed barricades from around the police department’s East Precinct in Capitol Hill Monday, leading protesters to set up the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone around it.
The area had been the site of tension and terse stand-offs between law enforcement and demonstrators before police boarded up the precinct and retreated from the area – a move Best described as an exercise in ‘trust and deescalation.’
The six-block radius has since become something of a camp where protesters gather each night to hold memorials for Floyd and march in front of the building.
Protesters describe it as a ‘free zone’ as it is free of cops and cars, and it contains tents for people looking to camp the night.
Durkan’s office told DailyMail.com in a statement that the city is ‘facing its most challenging time in its history’.
‘As the person who originally investigated the Seattle Police Department for the unconstitutional use of force, Mayor Durkan believes that SPD can lead the nation on continued reforms and accountability, but knows this week has eroded trust at a time when trust is most crucial,’ the office said Wednesday