SEATTLE — Minutes after SPD officers were ordered away from their guard posts surrounding the East Precinct, protesters moved in and promptly moved out dozens of large plastic traffic barriers.— which city utility workers had just filled with water and placed around the building — clearly in hope of protecting the building with a buffer zone.
But instead of focusing on the building, for the next several hours, the loud swarm of protesters appeared focused on sharing and exchanging ideas regarding the urgent need for racial justice and national police use -of -force reform. Without a single officer in sight, the crowd did what SPD Police Chief Carmen Best was hoping: to allow protesters access, while protecting her staff.
Best said 25 officers were injured over a 10-day period by objects thrown at them while guarding the East Precinct.
"We will be decreasing our footprint around the East Precinct, because protesters have requested it," Best said Monday afternoon. "They want the streets open for peaceful marches, and we're going to facilitate that opportunity for them," she said.
She also said that even though officers would not continue to guard the building, they still had no tolerance for property damage.
"We will not allow violent actors to destroy a city facility," she said, adding that Seattle Fire officials had tested the building's fire-suppression system and applied fire retardant to the building's exterior, while boarding over the windows.
Some protesters told KIRO 7 that while they believe the street should be reopened, they also believed the building could become a target for destruction.
"I understand that because of what happened in Minneapolis, when the 3rd Precinct burned down," Frank Grimes said. "And that’s one of the reasons why I'm out here today is to make sure that doesn't happen again."
Frank and others here say that fighting for police accountability also involves protecting the message from being corrupted by damage.
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