Seattle police showed up in force early Wednesday at the city’s “occupied” protest zone, tore down demonstrators’ tents and used bicycles to herd the protesters after the mayor ordered the area cleared following two fatal shootings in less than two weeks.
Television images showed no immediate signs of clashes between the police, many dressed in riot gear, and dozens of protesters at the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” zone that was set up near downtown following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
Police swarmed the zone known as CHOP at about 5 a.m. and a loud bang was heard at about 6:15 a.m. followed by a cloud of smoke.
KUOW-FM reported police had made at least 10 arrests by 5:30 a.m.
Police also tore down barricades and fences that protesters had erected around their tents and used batons to poke inside bushes, apparently looking for people who might be hiding inside.
Officers were also investigating several vehicles circling the area as police moved in after police saw people inside them “with firearms/armor,” police said in a tweet, adding that the vehicles did not appear to have “visible license plates.”
The protesters have occupied several blocks around a park for about two weeks, and the police department abandoned a precinct station there following standoffs and clashes with the protesters.
Police on Wednesday said they moved in to protect the public after Mayor Jenny Durkan issued the order for protesters to leave.
“Since demonstrations at the East Precinct area began on June 8th, two teenagers have been killed and three people have been seriously wounded in late-night shootings,” Seattle police said on Twitter. “Police have also documented robberies, assaults, and other violent crimes.”
The tweet added that “suspects in recent shootings may still be in the area, and because numerous people in the area are in possession of firearms.”
Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said in a statement that she supports peaceful demonstrations but that “enough is enough.”
“The CHOP has become lawless and brutal. Four shootings — two fatal — robberies, assaults, violence and countless property crimes have occurred in this several block area,” she said.
Two boys, ages 16 and 14, were shot
in the area on Monday, and the 16-year-old died.
There had been mounting calls by critics, including President Donald Trump, to remove protesters following the fatal shootings.
Author: The Associated Press
Source: Western Journal: Watch: Seattle Police Finally Swoop In and Crush CHOP