The Seattle Police Department vacated its East Precinct building and of activists and protesters established the police-free “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” nicknamed CHAZ.
Chief Carmen Best told reporters yesterday that it was not her decision to abandon the precinct.
“We were asked to do an operational plan in case we needed to leave,” Best said. “The decision was made. We’re still evaluating about how that change came about but it didn’t come from me.”
Speaking to her officers, Best said: “You fought for days to protect (The East Precinct). I asked you to stand on that line. Day in and day out, to be pelted with projectiles, to be screamed at, threatened and in some cases hurt. Then to have a change of course nearly two weeks in, it seems like an insult to you and our community.”
“I am very angry about the situation that we have and at this point we just want to make sure that it gets resolved,” Best told “Good Morning America.”
“While I really support First Amendment free speech, this is not that.”
She continued: “We’re currently working to get our officers back into the facility….We think it’s really important that we have police presence there and that we are able to continue to do our work.”
Best noted a rise of 911 calls, some reporting violent crimes in CHAZ, but said officers are unable to respond due to the blockade around the perimeter.
Mayor Jenny Durkan tried to downplay the situation on the ground, downplaying the attacks, criticisms and report of violence and unruly behavior.
“Lawfully gathering and expressing First Amendment rights, demanding we do better as a society, and providing true equity for communities of color is not terrorism. It’s patriotism,” Durkan said at a press conference, jabbing at President Trump’s labeling the CHAZ protesters “domestic terrorists.”
Durkan also tweeted that the protest is “a peaceful expression of our community’s collective grief and their desire to build a better world.”
The protesters in CHAZ have demanded Durkan and Best resign.
The New York Times reported that it is “part street festival, part commune,” with protesters demanding a disparate range of reforms, which included the abolition of the police, courts and criminal records.