Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Trump threatens to 'take back' Seattle as protestors set up police-free zone: 'This is not a game'

Mayor tells president: 'Go back to your bunker'

Chris Riotta
New York
Thursday 11 June 2020 16:13 BST
Seattle police officer caught kneeling on the necks of multiple George Floyd protestors

Donald Trump has ramped up attacks against local officials in Washington after protestors pushed the Seattle police department out of a city precinct and took claim of the area amid nationwide protests against police brutality.

The president posted a tweet on Wednesday night attacking Washington Governor Jay inslee and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, while appearing to threaten the use of federal force against the protestors.

“Radical Left Governor @JayInslee and the Mayor of Seattle are being taunted and played at a level that our great Country has never seen before,” Mr Trump wrote on Twitter. “Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will. This is not a game.”

He added: “These ugly Anarchists must be stooped [sic] IMMEDIATELY. MOVE FAST!”

His comments received swift backlash from local officials, who said the police were removed from the Capitol Hill area — now nicknamed the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone”, or CHAZ — as part of an effort to decrease tensions and conflict between demonstrators and police officers.

Without any police presence in recent nights, the blocks encompassed within the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone have been bustling with film screenings, offerings of free food and discussions about police reforms, the Seattle Times reported.

Protestors have also published a list of demands, which include the abolishment of the Seattle Police Department, a ban on the use of armed forces and an end to the school-to-prison pipeline, among others.

The mayor responded to Mr Trump in a tweet of her own, writing: “Make us all safe. Go back to your bunker.”

She was referring to reports that said the president was rushed to a secret bunker as demonstrations closed in on the White House. Mr Trump has pushed back on those claims, saying instead he went down to take a look as part of an “inspection” in an interview with Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade, adding: “They said it would be a good time to go down and take a look because maybe sometime you're going to need it.”

The governor also responded to Mr Trump’s latest attacks on Twitter, writing: “A man who is totally incapable of governing should stay out of Washington state’s business.”

He also mocked Mr Trump for the typo featured in his post, adding: “‘Stoop’ tweeting.”

Anti-racism protests and demonstrations against police brutality were sparked over the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who was seen pleading for his life as a white officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes. The protests have lasted for almost two weeks, with demonstrations spreading across the world.

In some cases, the peaceful demonstrations have turned into violent scenes of rioting and looting. In Seattle, where the CHAZ is now located, protestors were routinely clashing with police officers by nightfall until they were ordered out of the area.

The officers were removed “in an effort to proactively de-escalate interactions between protestors and law enforcement outside the East Precinct”, the mayor said in a statement earlier in the week.

She added: “Keeping demonstrations peaceful must be a joint effort between our community members and law enforcement. I am hopeful that tonight, with these operational changes, our city can peacefully move forward together.”

The city has also pledged to invest $100m back into the community and create a “Black Commission that will help to amplify black voices in City Hall”, the mayor said.

Demonstrations throughout the CHAZ meanwhile continue throughout the week, with a large banner hanging over the police station which reads: “THIS SPACE IS NOW PROPERTY OF THE SEATTLE PEOPLE.”

The president has received mounting criticism over his response to the nationwide protests and his frequent calls for state governments to use force to “put down” the demonstrations.

In a conference call with the nation’s governors, Mr Trump reportedly said: If people are running amok, you have to dominate. If you aren't dominating, you're wasting your time … They're going to run over you; you're going to look like a bunch of jerks."

He has also faced public disagreements with his own secretary of defence for demanding the use of the National Guard and federal troops in areas facing major demonstrations.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in