(UnitedVoice.com) – After weeks of occupation of part of downtown Seattle by rioters and domestic terrorists, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan finally wants it to end after violence erupted over the weekend. Although, how exactly this reclaiming of territory will be done is unclear.
How It Started
Though never publicly stated by the mayor, the occupation occurred after police were told to abandon the six-block “police-free zone.” In a video released on June 12, Police Chief Carmen Best said it was not her choice to leave the six-block radius around the East Precinct building. The mayor and chief have been at odds over what happened earlier this month. Now, the chief is at odds with the city council over how the police will end the occupation.
Initially, the mayor called the protestors “patriots” and said the occupiers were peaceful. Yet, the leaders of the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), or Capital Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP), would not allow police or first responders into the self-quarantined area. There have been reports that people calling 9-1-1 for help are not getting it from first responders and left to fend for themselves.
Police Rebuffed for Trying to Help Victims
Over the weekend, violence broke out and left one person dead and another critically injured. In a blog post by the Seattle police, it states that officers tried to enter the protest zone after shots were fired. However, they “were met by a violent crowd that prevented officers safe access to the victims.” Complicating matters, the Seattle Fire Department said it’s their policy not to send firefighters into violent situations without police protection.
A five-minute video released by officers wearing body cams shows them making their way through with weapons drawn, and angry people meeting them with threatening language as they surrounded police.
Mayor Decides to Act Amongst Criticism and Questions
After Sunday night’s demonstration showed that those inside the autonomous zone are not peaceful patriots, Durkan announced the city would be reclaiming the area. However, other than saying it would be peaceful, she refused to say how. Residents expressed relief, but remain critical of the mayor for taking so long to act.
They weren’t the only ones.
Police Chief Carmen Best expressed her frustration with the mayor and the city council as well. Last week, the city council banned police use of tear gas and other means to control unruly crowds. Best said, “A life might have been saved if not for the circumstances created by hasty legislation. Right now, what officers have is their riot batons and their handguns and that is not sufficient.”
In a press conference held by Duran and Best on Monday, they refused to say how they would clear protestors if they resist. All they would say is it would be “peaceful and in the near future.”
Observing the above video, it’s not clear how that is going to happen with people who are already breaking the law and could face severe legal consequences when this ends.
Stay tuned as this story continues to develop in the days ahead.
By Don Purdum, Freelance Contributor
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