East Precinct barricade to come down very slowly

SEATTLE — Security could soon be loosening in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Seattle police say they intend to remove the barricade around the East Precinct.

What they can’t say is when that will happen.

The barricade has been considered an eyesore in the neighborhood and, depending on who is talking, an unnecessary one.

But Seattle police say this barricade reflected the reality that they could not keep the building and the officers inside safe without it.

You could be forgiven for not knowing exactly what or even why this gray barricade is still around SPD’s East Precinct.

“There were a bunch of protests around here for a very long time,” said Ingy Omar. “I don’t what difference the barricade like made at the end of the day.”

That was Omar’s reaction when she moved in across the street.

“I mean, was it a statement, or was it actually meant to prevent anything from happening?” she asked.

“I think it’s pretty cowardly how it looks right now,” said Max Rubin, a Capitol Hill resident. “Yeah, they (police officers) look pretty scared, to be honest. Very scared.”

Last summer’s riots following George Floyd’s death forced Seattle police out of the East Precinct for nearly a month. But the barricades went up as the officers returned.

And some residents saw them as necessary.

“I know there’s been a lot of trauma and danger around here,” said Jarod Manny, who lives across the street and supported the barricade. “But I’d like to see it come down.”

An SPD spokesperson says it will, but gradually.

“We obviously would love to have the whole wall down,” said SPD Detective Valerie Carson. “But based on the reaction we got at the West Precinct, which was vandalized immediately after that wall came down, and we’ve had so many attempts at vandalism and property damage at the East Precinct, not to mention arson, that we really are going to take it slowly and go step by step and make sure it’s going to safe for our officers and the rest of the community as well.”

It can’t happen too soon for some.

“It definitely does feel uninviting,” observed Erin Donnelly. “But I understand why they did it. So any change is welcome. It’s calmed down quite a bit down here.”

Donnelly points out that the barricade is also a bit of a hazard for drivers.

And others say once that barricade comes down, Seattle police will have their work cut out to restore their relationship with the community.