SEATTLE — Seattle police are working to clear out a protest zone in the city that has become “lawless and brutal” after weeks of violence, including four shootings and the deaths of two teenagers, the city’s police chief said on Wednesday.
The move came after Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan declared the gathering of people in and around the police department’s East Precinct and Cal Anderson Park an “unlawful assembly,” the city’s police chief, Carmen Best, said in a statement.
The East Precinct was abandoned weeks ago after protesters clashed with Seattle police outside the station house in the wake of the May 25 killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Floyd’s death triggered a nationwide wave of demonstrations against racial injustice.
The Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) area outside the precinct has been the scene of a flurry of gun violence over the past several nights that has left two Black teenagers dead and two more people hospitalized.
President Donald Trump has been demanding that Washington state and Seattle take action to eject the protesters, calling them “domestic terrorists,” but city authorities had until Wednesday taken a nonconfrontational approach.
Wearing an additional level of protective gear given the recent violence, police officers entered the protest zone in the early morning hours on Wednesday and have so far arrested 13 people, according to the police department’s Twitter feed.
“Officers continue to give dispersal orders and are checking Cal Anderson restrooms,” the police department said. “Thank you to the individuals affiliated with the CHOP who have assisted officers in encouraging people to safely leave the area.”