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Seattle mayor: City will work to end autonomous zone after gun violence

Seattle Mayor Jenny DurkanJenny DurkanMost Biden-won states to meet July 4 COVID-19 vaccine goal: analysis Seattle is first major US city to see 70 percent of residents fully vaccinated, mayor says Will Seattle officials use the same lawsuit defense they want to take away from police? MORE (D) announced Monday that officials will work to end the autonomous protest zone in the city after gun violence left one man dead over the weekend. 

The Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone has been in existence for approximately two weeks and has drawn rage and threats of intervention from President TrumpDonald TrumpDOJ asks Supreme Court to revive Boston Marathon bomber death sentence, in break with Biden vow Biden looking to build momentum for Putin meeting DOJ tells media execs that reporters were not targets of investigations MORE

The announcement comes after there were two shootings in the would-be police-free zone, including one on Sunday when a 17-year-old was shot in the arm and another on Saturday when a 19-year-old was killed.

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Durkan said the nighttime violence in the area is “undermining and distracting from the message of change” for which peaceful protesters are advocating after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody last month.

“While we believe that individuals, organizations and others can continue to gather on Capitol Hill peacefully, the continued disorder, the violence and the impacts on residents and businesses are not just at odds with the message of justice and equity, they cannot continue to occur,” she said.

The mayor said the organizers in the autonomous zone have agreed they should stop gathering overnight after the incidents of violence. She said city officials are in regular communication with organizers and other community leaders. 

“I am hopeful and confident that these organizations that we are in dialogue with and others will work to encourage individuals to leave voluntarily, and we’re working with those organizations and community leaders to resolve that situation,” Durkan said.

Demonstrators two weeks ago took over a several-block area near a police station after confrontations with officers, who used tear gas, pepper spray and flash-bangs. Police eventually left the East Precinct building, leading activists to declare the area an autonomous zone. 

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The protests have mainly remained peaceful during the day, but violence has broken out at night, with demonstrators marching and openly armed guards keeping watch, The Associated Press reported

Trump has sharply condemned Durkan and Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeSeattle is first major US city to see 70 percent of residents fully vaccinated, mayor says Rivers, hydropower and climate resilience Environmentalists see infrastructure as crucial path to climate goals MORE (D) for allowing the autonomous zone to operate, threatening to get involved if they didn’t retake control of the city. 

The zone was formed as part of the protests in response to Floyd’s death in Minneapolis after video showed a former officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for about nine minutes before his death.