Seattle Police Chief Vows to Retake Precinct from CHAZ 'as Soon as Possible'
SPD's East Precinct has been seized by armed leftist activist
Seattle's chief of police has vowed to take back control of the department's East Precinct, which has been seized by armed leftist activists.
Police Chief Carmen Best said Friday she wants to retake the police precinct in the self-declared "Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone," or "CHAZ," “as soon as possible.”
“Ideally, we just need to get back into the building,” Chief Best told local station KIRO-7.
“People are looking for a plan, but we want to make sure we modulate anything that we’re doing,” she added.
This week, decrying police brutality after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, demonstrators seized control of a six-block zone in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.
The area has become a lawless protest center with speakers, drum circles, and Black Lives Matter painted on a street near the police station.
Police largely left the station after the chaos last weekend, when officers tear-gassed protesters and some demonstrators threw objects at them.
Police sprayed tear gas just two days after the mayor and the police chief said they were temporarily halting its use.
“We don’t want to exacerbate or intensify or incite problems that are going to lead to harm to the officers or the people who are standing by,” Best told the station.
“We know that several are armed.
"We want to make sure that we are being very thoughtful about how we respond.”
For everyone asking for a still of the entire mural at the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest. Here it is: pic.twitter.com/f7X0KQQJN7— Kyle Kotajarvi (@kylekotajarvi) June 12, 2020
Addressing the takeover of the area surrounding the abandoned East Precinct building, Best said in a video addressed to her officers Thursday that major chaos had been averted but also that she was “angry about” how the situation unfolded.
“The decision to board up the precinct, our precinct, our home, the first precinct I worked in, was something I had been holding off,” Best said.
“You should know, leaving the precinct was not my decision."
The predominantly liberal city with a lengthy history of protests has taken hits from all sides.
The "CHAZ" movement’s website demands the “abolition” of the police department, youth jails, and court the system -- and currently demands “the use of armed force be banned entirely.”
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan tweeted on Friday that she visited the so-called autonomous zone -- which has been criticized by President Trump and where people, including officers, come and go freely.
She said she spoke with organizers about moving forward and noted that she’s always known Capitol Hill as a place for people to express themselves.
Seattle is fine. Don’t be so afraid of democracy. https://t.co/o26PkJnYhA— Mayor Jenny Durkan (@MayorJenny) June 12, 2020
Trump has slammed her and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee for not breaking up the occupation by “anarchists” and threatening to take action if they don’t.
Both Durkan and Lee have assailed his comments and say they’re focusing on a peaceful resolution.
The demonstrations have been calm since police left the area.
Best and Durkan are at odds over the city's handling of the self-declared autonomous zone that spans several blocks surrounding the police precinct.
Best has accused the mayor of shirking her responsibilities as an elected official and allowing protesters to oust police officers from a precinct located inside the six-block radius now deemed a "cop free zone."
Demonstrators have battened down for almost a week.
Attempts to identify the leaders of the organized demonstrations and negotiate a deal to allow officers back into the area have been unsuccessful.