SEATTLE – The Mayor of Seattle said on Thursday that it would be unconstitutional and illegal for US President Donald Trump to send military forces into the city to purge protesters occupying a neighborhood, as he has suggested.
But Mayor Jenny Durkan did not say during an afternoon press conference how or when the authorities would remove the approximately 500 protesters who set up an improvised encampment behind barricades in the Capitol Hill district.
“It is unconstitutional and illegal to send the military to Seattle,” said Durkan, a first-term Democrat. “There is no immediate threat of an invasion of Seattle.”
Activists have occupied the area since police moved barricades on Monday night that blocked the streets and left their East Precinct station in a move that city officials said was meant to ease tensions.
Protesters used the police barricades to cut off the area, calling it the ‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.’
“We’re not going to let this happen in Seattle. If we have to go in, we go in,” Trump told Fox News on Thursday. “Let the governor do it. He’s got great troops from the National Guard … But somehow this will work. These people are not going to occupy much of a great city. “
On Sunday, a man with his car drove a crowd of protesters into the area that became the “autonomous zone” the next day. He then shot and injured a demonstrator who confronted him when he came to a stop, according to the video of the police and eyewitnesses. The man shot was in a stable condition in a hospital while the driver was arrested.
Major cities in the United States have been convulsed for more than two weeks by demonstrations, demonstrations and sometimes violence by the death of a black man, 46-year-old George Floyd, who has been detained in Minneapolis. A bystander recorded a video of the now-fired officer holding a knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
“What we got here is a unique opportunity to see how a police-free zone can be facilitated,” protester David Lewis told Reuters, who stood before the abandoned East Precinct.
“Making this a community or educational center would be a memorable and very powerful move that could mobilize the city for its lack of police brutality and for recognizing past debts.”
Police returned to the East Precinct building on Thursday morning to inspect it for damage, but it remains unmanned.
Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said the neighborhood could not remain occupied, but neither she nor Durkan would say how the city planned to dismantle the camp.
“We have to make sure that we don’t recreate the entire cycle that we’ve been able to disrupt,” said Durkan.