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Defunding the police, Seattle East Precinct
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Mayor Durkan clarifies role in clearing of East Precinct

Seattle's East Precinct. (Getty Images)

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan clarified her role in the decision to empty the East Precinct on Capitol Hill.

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“After events on Sunday night, it was clear that the ongoing nightly protests at the East Precinct needed to be significantly defused and deescalated,” a written statement from the mayor’s office reads. “The East Precinct was a flashpoint, and the cycle of conflict between demonstrators and officers were harmful to residents, demonstrators, businesses, officers, and our city.”

According to Durkan’s office, the Seattle Police Department “presented options for changes to tactical and operational decisions to manage conflict points.”

That in turn led to Durkan’s decision to remove barriers blocking protesters from the East Precinct, and reduce the presence of officers and National Guard members in the area.

Durkan’s office further clarified in a subsequent statement that she did not directly order officers to leave the precinct herself, and that the decision was made by “SPD Frontline Commanders on site.”

This comes after Chief Best said Thursday that it was not her decision to leave the precinct, that it was the result of the city “relent[ing] to public pressure,” and labeling it “an insult” to officers.

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The mayor’s office also revealed that “some” personnel are now staffing the precinct again, although it’s unclear how many or what roles they’re currently performing.

Protesters were seen standing guard in front of the building overnight Friday.

Correction, 6/12/20: A previous version of this article stated that Mayor Durkan made the decision to have officers leave the East Precinct. It has been edited to reflect that she did not directly make that decision.

The full statement from Mayor Durkan’s office:

After events on Sunday night, it was clear that the ongoing nightly protests at the East Precinct needed to be significantly defused and deescalated. The East Precinct was a flashpoint, and the cycle of conflict between demonstrators and officers were harmful to residents, demonstrators, businesses, officers, and our city.

On Monday morning, the Seattle Police Department presented options for changes to tactical and operational decisions to manage conflict points.

After the consultation with Chief Best, Mayor Durkan determined the situation would best be deescalated by removing the barriers and large presence of officers and the National Guard. The Mayor supported access to Pine Street for peaceful demonstrations Monday evening. Chief Best asked SPD to operationalize this decision.

Because of potential threats to the precinct, Frontline Commanders worked quickly through an operational plan to ensure the security of the precinct and safety of officers. It was determined that confidential information, equipment, and personnel should not remain for safety considerations. This was done in connection with other City departments like the Seattle Department of Transportation, Seattle Information Technology, Finance and Administrative Services, and the Seattle Fire Department.

Over the last three days there have been peaceful demonstrations around the East Precinct. Officers in the East Precinct have continued to respond to calls. Chief Best and Command Staff have been on site at the East Precinct including yesterday, and some personnel are now staffing the precinct.

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