Seattle Protesters Storm City Hall After Driving Police From the Area
Black Lives Matter activists demand Democrat mayor defunds police or resigns
Black Lives Matter protesters have stormed Seattle City Hall after driving police from the area and shuttering the local precinct by taking control of a six-block zone.
The BLM activists are demanding that Seattle's Democrat Mayor Jenny Durkan resigns if she refuses to defund the city's police department.
Troubling scenes saw hundreds of protesters, aided by a sympathetic City Council member, storm the building on Tuesday night, just days after seizing a six-block downtown area that includes a shuttered police precinct.
Activists forced police from the area and put up signs over the SPD's East Precinct saying "this space is now property of the Seattle people."
Without police resistance, protesters were able to flood and take control of the City Hall.
Demonstrators have reportedly remained peaceful, without reports of injuries or violence, but are pushing Mayor Durkan to step down if she refuses to meet their demands.
Protesters were chanting "defund SPD" after storming the building, according to reports.
And after over an hour inside City Hall, protesters are headed out and chanting “Defund SPD” as they leave. #seattleprotest pic.twitter.com/jE6eXkm905— Jake Goldstein-Street (@GoldsteinStreet) June 10, 2020
The protesters continued to camp out in a self-declared “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” (CHAZ)-- a region spanning six blocks and encompassing the precinct-- which has effectively been abandoned by law enforcement after the Seattle Police Department closed the East Precinct on Monday.
For more than two weeks following the death of George Floyd -- an unarmed black man who died in police custody after a former Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for over eight minutes -- hundreds of demonstrators all over the country took to the streets to condemn police brutality.
In some cities, like Seattle, pockets of violence erupted as a result of clashes with law enforcement.
On Sunday night, a protester in Capitol Hill was shot and wounded, and in another incident, a man drove his car through a throng of protesters and opened fire when a demonstrator approached the car window, police said.
After nearly two weeks of sparring -- during which protesters threw glass bottles, rocks, and other items at police, and officers deployed pepper spray and tear gas to break up crowds -- the police department made efforts to roll back aggressive policing tactics in an effort to quell the violence.
Since the police cleared out two nights ago, the area has remained relatively peaceful, despite the ongoing demonstrations.
Police said they will be responding to the area only if there is a 911 call for an emergency.
On Friday, Durkan banned the use of tear gas by police, but protesters say it's far from enough in a climate fraught with tension and distrust for law enforcement.
Seattle Councilwoman Kshama Sawant met protesters inside City Hall on Tuesday night-- even though the building is usually closed at night-- Komo News reported.
In response to Tuesday night's protests, Durkan's office said in a statement that she remains committed to making "actual steps on policing" and other measures of reform.
"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 statement said.