Seattle police have retaken the East Precinct stationhouse after clearing out the protest area known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, or CHOP, making more than a dozen arrests after Mayor Jenny Durkan finally declared the gathering an unlawful assembly following two fatal shootings.
Police issued the order to disperse around 5 a.m. local time Wednesday, telling protesters to leave within eight minutes. At least 31 protesters were arrested for failure to disperse, obstruction, resisting arrest and assault, police said.
The East Precinct stationhouse, which police abandoned last month following standoffs and clashes with demonstrators, was cleared of protesters, Police Chief Carmen Best told reporters from inside CHOP. Best said police were not moving into the building yet.
“Our job is to support peaceful demonstration but what has happened on these streets over the last few weeks is lawless and it’s brutal and bottom line it is simply unacceptable,” Best told reporters.
Best said she was “stunned by the amount of graffiti, garbage and property destruction” she saw during a tour of the area.
City workers were dismantling wooden and concrete barriers while police remained on the scene. Best said police and other city organizations will clean the area and the precinct before beginning operations as soon as reasonably possible.
Police also investigated several vehicles circling the CHOP zone after officers saw people inside them carrying firearms and wearing body armor. The vehicles had no visible license plates, police said.
Durkan’s executive order comes after weeks of leftist crime and anarchy ruled the area with no repercussions. Police said a number of violent crimes have been documented in the area since demonstrators took over several blocks in the Capitol Hill neighborhood last month.
“Officers enforcing today’s order are wearing a higher-level of protective gear,” police said. “Police are utilizing this equipment because individuals associated w/the CHOP are known to be armed and dangerous/may be associated with shootings, homicides, robberies, assaults & other violent crimes.”
Incapable of accepting responsibility, the left-wing protesters have complained that they should not be blamed for the violence in the area.
Demonstrators have occupied several blocks around a park and the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct. Police abandoned the building following standoffs and clashes with protesters, who demanded racial justice and an end to police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis in May while being arrested by police.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, in a Wednesday press briefing, celebrated Seattle’s dismantling of the Capital Hill Organized Protest (CHOP), saying the city has been “liberated from the anarchists.”
“We are pleased to report law and order has prevailed and Seattle has been liberated from the anarchists,” McEnany said, calling CHOP a “failed four-week Democrat experiment.”
Earlier this month, President Trump said the city “must end this Seattle takeover now!”
“Seattle is fine. Don’t be so afraid of Democracy,” Durkan shot back before allowing the situation to play on – resulting in a number of unnecessary deaths and injuries.
Republicans pointed out that lives could have been saved if Durkan would have listened to President Trump and acted sooner.
“21 days and several deaths too late,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted. “The rule of law must not fade in and out with the fashions of the radical left.”
Shortly after police cleared the area, Faizel Khan, a business owner there, told Seattle’s KING-TV he did not believe there were any winners in the city.
“I think we’ve actually lost,” he said. “I think we’ve lost a mayor. We’ve lost a city councilperson. We’ve lost residents. We’ve lost small businesses. We’ve lost the Black Lives Matter movement.”