Seattle Protesters Storm City Hall, Demand Mayor Resign After Driving Police Out of Area, Declaring Autonomous Zone

Hundreds of protesters, aided by a sympathetic City Council member, stormed Seattle‘s City Hall Tuesday night to demand the mayor’s resignation, just days after seizing a six-block downtown zone that includes a shuttered police precinct.

Demonstrators remained peaceful, without reports of violence or injuries, but are pushing Mayor Jenny Durkan to step down if she refuses to defund the city’s police department.

The protesters continued to camp out in a self-declared “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” (CHAZ)– a region spanning six blocks and encompassing the precinct– which has effectively been abandoned by law enforcement after the Seattle Police Department closed the East Precinct on Monday.

For more than two weeks following the death of George Floyd — an unarmed black man who died in police custody after a former Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for over eight minutes — hundreds of demonstrators all over the country took to the streets to condemn police brutality.

In some cities, like Seattle, pockets of violence erupted as a result of clashes with law enforcement.

On Sunday night, a protester in Capitol Hill was shot and wounded and in another incident, a man drove his car through a throng of protesters and opened fire when a demonstrator approached the car window, police said.

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After nearly two weeks of sparring — during which protesters threw glass bottles, rocks, and other items at police, and officers deployed pepper spray and tear gas to break up crowds — the police department made efforts to roll back aggressive policing tactics in an effort to quell the violence.

Since the police cleared out two nights ago, the area has remained relatively peaceful, despite the ongoing demonstrations.

Police said they will be responding to the area only if there is a 911 call for an emergency.

On Friday, Durkan banned the use of tear gas by police, but protesters say it’s far from enough in a climate fraught with tension and distrust for law enforcement.

Seattle Councilwoman Kshama Sawant met protesters inside City Hall on Tuesday night– even though the building is usually closed at night– Komo News reported.

In response to Tuesday night’s protests, Durkan’s office said in a statement that she remains committed to making “actual steps on policing” and other measures of reform.

“As the person who originally investigated the Seattle Police Department for the unconstitutional use of force, Mayor Durkan believes that SPD can lead the nation on continued reforms and accountability, but knows this week has eroded trust at a time when trust is most crucial,” the statement said.

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