Anti-racism protests in Seattle: Police clear “police-free zone”

Anti-racism protests in Seattle: Police clear "police-free zone"

Activists had occupied Seattle’s streets for weeks and ousted the police. Now the district was evicted.

On Wednesday, the mayor of the US metropolis Seattle, Jenny Durkhan, police officers violently evacuated the “autonomous zone” near the city center that was created by activists. The reason for the evacuation were two fatal shootings and other acts of violence. For almost three weeks, several hundred people had occupied the streets of the Capitol Hill district and declared a zone free of police and authorities.

Previously, thousands of people protested against racism and police violence in Seattle after George Floyd’s death. After days of arguments between the police and protesters, the police finally cleared their territory in Capitol Hill. The activists set up camp in the district and organized rallies and concerts. But in the night of June 20-21, shots were fired and two people died.

Mayor Durkhan announced the eviction a week ago. Equipped with bulletproof vests, protective helmets and truncheons, police officers began to drive the activists out of the occupied zone. The police officers tore down provisionally erected fences and a tent camp in an adjacent park.

Many of the demonstrators in what they called “CHOP” (Capitol Hill Organized Protest) or “CHAZ” (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone) had already vacated the site early Wednesday morning before the police operation. Those who were still there protested peacefully against the eviction. The police said that more than three dozen were arrested.

“Our job is to support peaceful demonstrations,” said Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best. “But what has happened on these streets in the past two weeks is lawless, barbaric, and simply not acceptable.”

A photo of the clearance operation shows how a policeman removed a poster that said: “We will not leave until our demands are met. 1. A 50 percent cut in the budget for the Seattle Police Department. 2. Financial support for black communities. 3. Liberation of all demonstrators”.

After the police drove the activists out of the area, large construction machines were used to remove concrete blocks and garbage. “The huge amount of graffiti, garbage, and property damage shocked me,” Best said.

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