Police in Seattle returned to the East Precinct which was abandoned when Antifa-led protestors took over a six-block area of the city earlier this week. On Thursday afternoon, officers entered the precinct and tensions remain high at this hour.
During a joint press conference with Chief of Police Carmen Best and Mayor Jenny Durkan, Durkan blamed Trump and his narrative for everything that's happening in downtown Seattle. She denied that there are armed militants, even though press has covered it.
Durkan compared the abandoning of the East Precinct and the the so-called Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone to a block party.
When asked about the occupation, she said, "We've had blocks of Seattle and Capitol Hill shut down every summer from everything from block parties to Pride and this is really not much of an operational challenge."
Reports from Chief of Police Carmen Best during the conference confirmed that her visit to the precinct today was just an inspection. Best would not say whose decision it was to abandon the precinct, but confirmed that it wasn't hers. She also said that she stood by her decision to use flash bangs and tear gas and other crowd dispersal devices to protect public safety.
Neither the Chief nor mayor will be resigning. Durkan said "We thought about having our Thelma and Louise moment but decided against it."
Best said that there are no plans as yet to take back the area, and there is no timeline for doing so. Mayor said to those call the Capitol Zone autonomous, that it has always been autonomous ever since she was a kid.
The Capitol Zone falls within the district of City Councilperson Kshama Sawant, who joined protestors in their takeover of City Hall on Tuesday night.
In her own missive to the Seattle Police Department, Best addressed her officers, saying "SPD family, I say that because that is what you are. You are my family. And family is honest with each other, and family has tough times, but in the end we always remain family.
"We are all going through one of the toughest times ever in the Seattle Police Department. I klnow how incredibly difficult these past two weeks have been for you and your families. To say thank you will probably never be enough. But thank you. This department cares about you. I care about you. And although it may not not seem true at this moment, your community cares about you.
"I want to update you all on the situation at the East Precinct. The decision to board up the precinct, our precinct, our home, the first precinct I worked in, was something I have been holding off. You should know leaving the precinct was not my decision.
"We fought for days to protect it, I asked you to stand on that line, day in, day out, to be pelted with projectiles, to be screamed at, threatened, and in some cases hurt. Then to have a change or course, nearly two weeks in, it seemed like an insult to you and to our community.
"Ultimately the City had other plans for the building and relented to severe public pressure. I am angry about how all of this came about. I understand that my comments in this message may be leaked to the public but I'm not concerned about that. I stand by what I'm saying.
"We had solid information to believe that anti-government groups would destroy the precinct after we left, whether through vandalism or arson. As you might have heard the Seattle Fire Department was nearby to protect the precinct and the entire residential block from the real risk of a large scale fire.
"This week there have been demonstrations and what I understand were threats against a news reporter on Capitol Hill. There was vandalism to our city streets and to our building, but today the precinct remains standing. No officers were hurt, no forces used.
"We have heard that there are armed people 'patrolling' the streets near 12th and Pine. Of course this is very concerning, especially because we don't know who these people are.
"We've also heard reports that these armed people may be demanding payment from business owners in exchange for some of that protection. We've also heard that may be demanding to see identification from people who live in the area. This is not legal, and we've asked anyone who has experienced this to come forward and file a police report so that we can investigate these crimes.
"In closing, I am very grateful to each and every one of you every single day. You are doing such incredible work but I know you feel under appreciated. However I do believe most people in Seattle support the police department and its officers even though those aren't the ones posting on social media.
"They and I will continue to have your backs to support you and all that you're in the name of public safely."
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