According to Carmen Best, chief of the Seattle Police Department (SPD), the existence of the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) has prevented the police from responding to 911 calls of “rapes, robberies and all sorts of violent acts” that have been occurring near Seattle’s East Precinct, which city officials abandoned.
“If that is your mother, your sister, your cousin, your neighbor’s kid that is being raped, robbed, assaulted or otherwise victimized, you’re not going to want to have to report that it took the police three times longer to get there to provide services for them,” said Chief Best in a speech made to East Precinct officers on Thursday.
Seattle Police Chief: "Rapes, robberies and all sorts of violent acts have been occurring in the area and we're not able to get to [them]." #capitolhillautonomouszone #antifa #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/Oe5YfVz3uL
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) June 12, 2020
Best said that response times to 911 calls in the East Precinct area have tripled from “just under five minutes to about 18 minutes” since the abandonment of the precinct on Monday afternoon and the subsequent establishment of the autonomous zone.
She also noted that it should never have been an option to abandon residents who live near the precinct, many of whom, according to her, belong to some of Seattle’s most marginalized communities. This is especially regrettable given the fact that Best and the SPD have been receiving reports of armed individuals in CHAZ serving as enforcers of the zone and that they “may be demanding payment from business owners in exchange for their protection.”
Furthermore, her office has also heard that these same armed individuals may be demanding identification from people who live in the area. (Related: Antifa releases list of demands after capturing 6 blocks of downtown Seattle.)
Best also mentioned how she believes most of the people in Seattle are very supportive of the SPD and its officers, even if they haven’t been as vocal about their support on social media as the anti-police mob.
“They and I will continue to have your backs,” she added.
Best has recently been at odds with Mayor Jenny Durkan. In a press conference with the chief of police, Durkan said that the illegal occupants of the Capitol Hill neighborhood were engaging in an act of “patriotism.” This completely flies in the face of the fact that the rioters have been fighting with the SPD over control of the area since the beginning of the engineered riots.
Best explained to reporters that the city ordered the evacuation of the precinct after Durkan and other officials received reports that the building could be burned down by rioters.
However, in a separate interview, the chief of police clarified that the SPD did not, in fact, “abandon” the precinct and that the removal of personnel from the area was only temporary due to security concerns. She further said that her office was working to get police officers back into the precinct.
Best says that the correct approach to reoccupying the East Precinct would be to take it “methodically.” Both Best, Durkan and some SPD officers were able to visit the East Precinct; however, the SPD has yet to fully move its personnel back into the building.
Best has been critical of Durkan’s policies concerning CHAZ. She has gone on record saying that it feels like an insult to Seattle’s police officers and to the community that the East Precinct was abandoned after nearly two weeks of protecting the area from rioters. But, ultimately, Best said that the city had relented to public pressure.
In an interview, Mayor Durkan was unable to say when the armed occupation of parts of her city might end. She said that this weird period of Seattle’s history may turn into “Summer of Love,” and that CHAZ has a “block party atmosphere” to it. She has also denied calling the occupation of the Capitol Hill neighborhood “an armed takeover.”
Durkan has further stated that CHAZ presents “no threat” to the public of Seattle.
Other members of Seattle’s police force have criticized the city’s decision to leave the precinct and to allow the establishment of CHAZ. Michael Solan, head of Seattle’s police union, called the decision “the closest I’ve seen to our country becoming a lawless state.”
Since the beginning of the George Floyd engineered riots, the neighborhood surrounding the East Precinct had become a hotbed of violent confrontations between rioters and police officers. Officers have been forced to use flash-bang grenades, pepper spray and tear gas to disperse violent protesters that have assaulted them with projectile weapons.
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