SEATTLE – Following days of violent confrontations with protesters, police in Seattle have largely withdrawn from part of a neighborhood where protesters have created a festival-like scene that has President Donald Trump fuming.
Trump taunted Gov. Jay Inslee and Mayor Jenny Durkan about the situation on Twitter and said the city had been taken over by “anarchists." “Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will,” Trump tweeted.
The president continued his complaints in a Thursday interview with the Fox News Channel. “If we have to go in, we’re going to go in," Trump said. "These people are not going to occupy a major portion of a great city.”
The “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” stretches over a couple city blocks and sprung up after police on Monday removed barricades near the East Precinct and basically abandoned the structure after officers used tear gas, pepper spray and flash bangs over the weekend to disperse demonstrators they said were assaulting them with projectiles.
The president has sparred before with Inslee and Durkan — both liberal Democrats. Inslee previously sought his party's presidential nomination.
Inslee tweeted Thursday that state officials will not allow threats of military violence from the White House. “The U.S. military serves to protect Americans, not the fragility of an insecure president,” he tweeted.
The zone set up by protesters stretches a portion of Capitol Hill, where dozens of people show up to listen to speakers calling for police reform, racial justice and compensation for Native groups on whose land the city of Seattle was founded.
Signs proclaim “You are entering free Capitol Hill” and “No cop co-op” along sidewalks where people sell water and other wares. On Thursday, speakers used a microphone to discuss their demands and how to address the police presence after they visited the precinct during the day. Down the street, artists continued painting a block-long “Black Lives Matter” mural on the street.