Seattle Protesters Declare Autonomous Zone Near Police Precinct
After a spraypainting the precinct now says “Seattle People Department”
While direct confrontation between police and protesters has become less visible in recent days, Seattle protesters took their demonstration to the next level late Monday night by establishing an autonomous zone after police abandoned the East Precinct.
The precinct had been the setting of tense nightly stand-offs between anti-racist protestors and the city’s police department which culminated on Sunday night. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced a 30-day ban on tear gas, but just three days later the police department unleashed a barrage of tear gas and flash bombs.
After widespread and well-documented police violence nationwide combined with fiery rhetoric from the President and other Republicans, a change of tactics has occurred in many police departments. They’ve gone on a media offensive including questionable PR stunts and let up on curfews after using them as a way to bludgeon protestors.
Seattle Police Department’s strategy mimics Minneapolis’s who abandoned the precinct of the officers who killed George Floyd. Protestors subsequently set the precinct on fire.
Whether Seattle PD was hoping for a similar response is unclear, but local news has reported that armed protestors are protecting the precinct, which now reads “Seattle People Department” after a spray-painting.
Protests in Seattle show a shift in tactics from both police and protestors as demonstrations continue into their third week after the killing of George Floyd.
After initial, brutal police violence across the board in response to protests, reports have emerged alleging cooption of radical movements and collaboration with local authorities that the protests pit themselves against.
A newly-founded protest group in Denver has faced allegations from local activists and protestors of working with the mayor’s office and taking the steam out of protests. And in Portland, an activist group dug into the past of a man who calmed down protestors and proceeded to take pictures with the police, finding he was a sexual abuser.
Whether protests have been controlled by local officials or spontaneous movements pleaded for less violence, police departments across the United States have been more cautious after viral videos have documented numerous incidences of blatant police violence.
As protestors have faced less provocation, rioting and looting have dissipated with protestors seeing less confrontation with the people they are protesting against. In Seattle, protestors seized the opportunity and have thus far had two successful nights occupying prominent areas in Seattle.
In Minneapolis what began with fire destruction has morphed into a stronger sense of community and mutual aid. With some residents unable to reach grocery stores after the unrest, charities and community organizations have sprung to peoples’ aid. Community organizers have also pointed to homeless people facing eviction from temporary accommodation in hotels due to the coronavirus.
So far, the nearly unprecedented scope and size of the protests after George Floyd’s death have begun to win some concessions from police and local officials. To name a few, curfews have been removed, the charges against George Floyd’s killers have been increased, Los Angeles announced a cut in their police budget, and Minneapolis city councilors announced their intent to disband the police force.
But the concessions are just scratching the surface of most protestor’s demands. And the newly-one concessions are often simply attempts from officials to placate rather than change.
For example, New York announced an anti-chokehold act named after Eric Garner, a man choked to death by the police in 2014. But the NYPD banned chokeholds in 1993 and the officer who killed Garner has never faced charges.
Chants across America of “no justice, no peace” can still be heard, and while protestors have won some victories, many seem prepared for a much longer battle. You can tune into the battle with multiple livestreams continually streaming out of Seattle.