Seattle police showed up in force yesterday. They were there to protect the public and to close the city’s “occupied” protest zone—after two fatal shootings in less than two weeks.
Following the death of George Floyd (see “George Floyd Protests”) on May 25, people across the United States began protesting police violence and racism. In Seattle, police set up blockades near a precinct. Every night, hundreds of protesters showed up. They called for racial justice and an end to police brutality.
Police say some people threw water bottles, rocks, and other projectiles at officers. The clashes often ended with tear gas and pepper spray.
Protesters and several Seattle officials have accused police of using too much force and making the conflict worse. Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability will study complaints about police actions during the protests.
Injustice and brutality are never right—no matter which side of an argument someone is on. Remember the biblical requirement to “do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God”? (Micah 6:8)
On June 15, police officers boarded up the building in front of the East Precinct. They left the area, allowing protesters to assemble and protest freely in what is now called CHOP for “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” zone.
However, after just over two weeks, Police Chief Carmen Best had had enough. She sent police back in to protect the public after Mayor Jenny Durkan issued the order for protesters to leave.
Television images showed no signs of clashes between police and dozens of protesters at the CHOP yesterday. Police swarmed the zone about 5 a.m. A loud bang sounded around 6:15 a.m., followed by a cloud of smoke. At least 13 people were arrested.
Police tore down fences that protesters had erected around their tents. They used batons to poke inside bushes, looking for people who might be hiding inside.
Most protesters seemed to have left several hours after the operations started. Armed officers looked on from rooftops as clean-up crews arrived to break down tables and tarps that protesters had set up in the zone.
“Since demonstrations at the East Precinct area began on June 8th, two teenagers have been killed and three people have been seriously wounded in late-night shootings,” Seattle police said on Twitter. “Police have also documented robberies, assaults, and other violent crimes."
There had been mounting calls by critics, including President Donald Trump, to remove protesters following the fatal shootings.
Protesters say they should not be blamed for the violence in the area.
“Our job is to support peaceful demonstration,” Police Chief Best says, “but what has happened on these streets . . . is lawless and it’s brutal and bottom line it is simply unacceptable.”
(Seattle Police, at right, look on as Department of Transportation workers remove barricades in Seattle’s CHOP zone on June 30, 2020. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)