Seattle police arrested at least 13 people after they swarmed the city’s “occupied” protest zone, tore down demonstrators’ tents, and used bicycles to herd the protesters when Mayor Jenny Durkan ordered the area cleared after two fatal shootings in less than two weeks, the Associated Press reports.
The “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” (CHOP) zone was set up near downtown after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Officers tore down fences that protesters had erected around their tents and used batons to poke inside bushes, looking for people who might be hiding. Police investigated vehicles circling the area after people were seen inside them “with firearms/armor,” police said in a tweet.
KING 5’s Michael Crowe said a majority of the protestors had left the CHOP by 6:20 a.m. Around the same time, SPD tweeted that officers “continue to give dispersal orders and are moving remaining groups north through Cal Anderson Park.”
“The Seattle Police Department basically reclaimed the precinct in less than 30 minutes, 5 feet at a time with the bicycle officers out in front,” said Omari Salisbury, a reporter with Seattle’s Converge Media. Salisbury has been live streaming from the CHOP throughout the protest in Capitol Hill.
The protesters have occupied several blocks around a park for about two weeks and police abandoned a precinct station after standoffs and clashes with the protesters. “Since demonstrations at the East Precinct area began on June 8, two teenagers have been killed and three people have been seriously wounded in late-night shootings,” Seattle police said on Twitter.
Police said they documented robberies, assaults, and other violent crimes. Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said she supports peaceful demonstrations but that “enough is enough.”
There had been mounting calls by critics, including President Donald Trump, to remove protesters, who said they should not be blamed for the violence in the area.