13 arrested as Seattle police return to abandoned precinct

Police in Seattle arrested more than a dozen people Wednesday as officers returned to a police precinct and an area of downtown that demonstrators had taken control of during protests last month following the police killing of George Floyd.

Local NBC affiliate KING 5 reported that the 13 arrests, which came after the mayor's executive order directing all residents to vacate the area of downtown now known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) zone, began around 5 a.m. local time.

"As I have said, and I will say again, I support peaceful demonstrations. Black Lives Matter, and I too want to help propel this movement toward meaningful change in our community. But enough is enough," said Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said in a statement.

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"The CHOP has become lawless and brutal. Four shootings—two fatal—robberies, assaults, violence and countless property crimes have occurred in this several block area," she added. "My job, and the job of our officers, is to protect and serve our community. This is not an end to our department’s engagement with demonstrators. We must continue our efforts to build trust and redefine our roles as guardians in our city."

The police chief's statement referenced a number of shootings that have taken place inside the autonomous zone since protesters moved in following the May 25 death of Floyd, an unarmed Black man who was killed while in Minneapolis police custody. A white officer was seen kneeling on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes; that officer was later fired and charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Just after 5 a.m. local time, Seattle police tweeted that anyone remaining in the zone would be allowed to leave peacefully but warned that the mayor's order would be enforced.

"Anyone seeking to exit the area can still do so to the south, toward Pike Street," police tweeted. "Anyone who remains in the area, or returns to the area, is subject to arrest."

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