US President Donald Trump has threatened to “take back” a police-free district where protesters are given play in Seattle.Police abandoned a precinct within the city on Monday after days of violent confrontation with demonstrators.
Mr Trump said the world had been overtaken by “Domestic Terrorists”, but Washington state leaders told him to not meddle in their affairs.Since police withdrew, demonstrations within the area are largely peaceful.
It has been called Chaz, an abbreviation of Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. many people are gathering there to demonstrate, hear speeches and attend events.The protests in Seattle, Washington began in response to last month’s death in police custody of an unarmed Black man , George Floyd, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
President Trump, who has pushed states to require firm action against protesters, has meanwhile outlined proposals for reforming police, including greater funding for training and national guidelines on the utilization of force.
However, he dismissed involves defunding the police as an “extreme agenda”. Such a measure involves budgets being allocated on to communities instead of enforcement .
How did the Chaz come about?
The area around East Precinct in Seattle became a battleground between protesters and police within the past fortnight , leading the governor to send the National Guard and for the mayor to impose a curfew.
During the violence, demonstrators threw petrol bombs and other missiles at police, cars were torched and looting broke out, consistent with local media.
At the weekend, Seattle police used tear gas and flash bangs to disperse protesters. Members of the town council rebuked the local department , accusing them of heavy-handed tactics.Then on Monday, the mayor ordered barricades removed near the precinct and therefore the police building was boarded up.
Since then protesters have appropriated a zone spanning about six blocks of Capitol Hill , a hub of the city’s trendy arts scene that has been gentrified in recent years as tech workers approach property prices.
Local media describe a festival-like atmosphere, with poetry readings, music and movie nights. Free fizzy water, snacks, sunscreen and hand sanitiser are available.
While the protesters say they’re leaderless, armed volunteers are spotted at checkpoints posing for the ID of individuals entering.
What did Trump say about Chaz?
In a series of tweets, the Republican president lashed out at liberal Democratic leaders within the north-western US state of Washington and its most populous city of Seattle.”Take back your city NOW,” Mr Trump wrote on Thursday. “If you do not roll in the hay , I will.”
In another tweet, he said “Domestic Terrorists have appropriated Seattle”, saying Washington Governor Jay Inslee was “looking ‘the fool'”.Mr Inslee tweeted back: “A man who is completely incapable of governing should stay out of Washington state’s business.”
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan defended the proper to protest and told President Trump: “Make us all safe. return to your bunker.The threat to invade Seattle, to divide and incite violence in our city, isn’t only unwelcome, it might be illegal,” she added.
How do police see it?
Police say they need to reopen the precinct and it’s unclear how long the autonomous zone will remain.At a press conference on Wednesday, Assistant Chief Deanna Nollette said the local department had been abandoned due to threats that it might be vandalised or burned. She said the protesters’ barricades were intimidating some residents.
Police Chief Carmen Best posted a video message to officers during which she said the police withdrawal “seems like an insult to you and our community”.On Thursday afternoon the captain said claims by Asst Chief Nollette that citizens and businesses were being extorted within the zone weren’t true and had been supported anecdotal evidence from news and social media.
Ms Best said call response times within the area served by East Precinct are normally between 5-18 minutes, but are now taking almost an hour, reports local Komo News.
She said this suggests police aren’t ready to answer reports of assaults, rapes and robberies.
Source: bbc news