Reclaiming Seattle’s autonomous zone has not been easy
Following an executive order mandated by Mayor Jenny Durkan, protestors have fought overnight to continue their autonomy.
On Wednesday, Seattle’s law enforcement along with the FBI entered the autonomous zone’s CHOP to reclaim the area as well as their headquarters at the police department’s East Precinct.
While the police-free zone experiment began on a good note, things became violent after two weeks. Following shootings and fatalities, officials decided to remove the demonstrations from Capitol Hill. Still, locals do not trust law enforcement to return.
Overnight Wednesday, the situation between cops and protesters became unruly.
Protestors lined up in solidarity against the police entering the autonomous zone adorned with riot gear and batons.
While the cops drew orders to disperse, demonstrators stood their ground.
After arresting more than 30 people during the day on Wednesday, 25 more were made at night for failure to disperse, obstruction, and assault.
Individuals in crowd are throwing bottles at officers. Officers deployed pepper spray and are making arrests.
— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) July 2, 2020
Even though a judge had previously granted a temporary ban on tear gas in crowds that were peacefully protesting, there were loopholes to that order if it was a “reasonable, proportional, and targeted action to protect against a specific imminent threat of physical harm … or to respond to specific acts of violence or destruction of property.”
The Seattle Police department can still use them at the order of Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best. For the next few weeks, she can still approve it for limited and target use or in extreme cases where there is ‘imminent threat of physical harm.’
Organizers from Washington Youth for Climate Justice spoke with Vox and expressed concern over the city’s tactics to deconstruct CHOP.
“We feel that the handling of CHOP’s dispersal, such as calling in officers wearing riot gear and using pepper spray on demonstrators, was completely unethical and unnecessary,” they said.
For weeks, we have had incredibly peaceful demonstrations on Capitol Hill. Thousands of individuals came together to call for change, and their message has been heard loud and clear: Black Lives Matter. We must continue to live up to this moment in our nation’s history.
— Mayor Jenny Durkan (@MayorJenny) July 1, 2020
Mayor Jenny Durkan, who signed the executive order for the dispersal of the protestors, tweeted on Wednesday about the situation. She added that herself and officials as well as people across the nation understood the message: that Black Lives Matter.
However, after the escalations she said in a thread of tweets that, “despite continued efforts to de escalate and bring the community together, this violence demanded action.”
Though the protests continue, and more arrests have been made, it seems that soon enough law enforcement will not be able to use weapons like tear gas, pepper spray, flash bangs, blast balls, and rubber bullets.
Durkan has not signed on the bill, but also has not vetoed it, and laws go into effect 30 days after they’ve been returned from the Mayor’s office. These effects would go into effect on July 26.