Post navigation

Prev: (08/28/20) | Next: (08/30/20)

Following ‘multiple serious arson incidents and explosions,’ police add castle wall to Seattle’s East Precinct — UPDATE

A castle wall of stacked cement blocks now barricades Capitol Hill’s East Precinct headquarters at 12th and Pine. City officials say the new barrier is being put in place after the arson fires set outside the precinct earlier this week and due to “multiple serious arson incidents and explosions” targeting the building.

An SPD spokesperson provided a joint city department statement on the new wall:

Over the next several days, staff from the Seattle Police Department, Seattle Fire Department (SFD), Seattle Department of Transportation, and department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) are making structural updates to the East Precinct in an effort to protect the facility from arson and other damages, protect officers and detectives stationed in the precinct, and protect residents and community members who live near the precinct.

“The precinct is located in proximity to approximately 500 residential homes and many small businesses,” the city’s statement reads.


$5/MONTH? SUBSCRIBE AND SUPPORT LOCAL NEWS: Support local journalism dedicated to your neighborhood. SUBSCRIBE HERE. Join to become a subscriber at $1/$5/$10 a month to help CHS provide community news with NO PAYWALL. You can also sign up for a one-time annual payment.


Monday’s arson fires were part of a night of protest in solidarity with Kenosha where the police shooting of Jacob Blake has brought another wave of demonstrations and riots across the country. A 19-year-old from Alaska faces federal charges in the fire set outside the East Precinct along 12th Ave fed by debris and cardboard but ultimately extinguished by Seattle Fire before any serious damages or injuries.

The city says, in addition to the new wall, SPD has procured additional fire extinguishers and will be securing exposed windows as a proactive measure to help secure the facility.

The East Precinct pre-CHOP (Image: CHS)

The new, more robust wall expands the secure footprint around the precinct by about six feet, claiming an even larger chunk of the street and bike lanes. The chain-link fence remains as a second perimeter inside the large wall. The sidewalk around the corner of 12th and Pine remains closed — and seems likely to remain that way given the new construction effort.

UPDATE 8/30/2020: City crews were out Saturday to add more to the structure with a chain-link fence now extending above the concrete blocks. Crews were also spotted atop the building installing a new speaker system. We’ll check with SPD and the city about their plans for the new system and any other planned additions. UPDATE x2: Police say the new sound system isn’t a Long Range Acoustic Device — a sound weapon deployed in Portland that can generated sound up to 150 decibels “that can be aimed and projected over long distances.” “They’re standard (audio/visual) speakers, installed to give the precinct the ability to clearly communicate with a large group should the need arise,” a department spokesperson said.

There was a time during CHOP when SPD had abandoned the building and activists were envisioning new community uses for the facility. Two months later, SPD is digging in.

The changes come as new policing facilities are increasingly designed with features including bollards, fences, and parking lots used to prevent direct access. The auto row-era building home to the East Precinct was never designed for that kind of environment. 100 years ago, it was home to the Willys-Overland Motors automobile company. It has stood through decades of change on the Hill thanks in part to its large x-shaped seismic braces — now partially hidden behind the new fortress wall.

SPD first erected the permanent barricades around the East Precinct in early July in the first hours after Mayor Jenny Durkan’s ordered raid and sweep of the CHOP protest zone.

The wall’s composition utilizing the huge rectangular “ecology blocks” echoes the formation of a similar barrier erected outside the West Precinct. The Seattle Department of Transportation also uses the blocks to form safety barriers along streets and intersections.

Thanks to reader Ella for the picture

The city says the work started by SDOT crews Friday will stretch on and could require short street closures.

*             Streets are expected to reopen by the evening.
*             Crews may return over the weekend to inspect the structure and add any finishing touches.
*             Once the structure has been built, all streets will be reopened and sidewalk access will be the same as it has been throughout the month of August. No unrestricted public parking spaces will be affected.
*             SDOT crews will assist local residents and businesses who need to access their buildings during the brief construction period on Friday, and if any additional work is needed on Saturday morning.
*             SDOT will follow all ADA requirements and install signs throughout the area so that people know that sidewalks have been closed.

The wall and fence now appears destined to be a long-term part of the Pike/Pine streetscape where it joins elements like the large Black Lives Matter mural painted on E Pine as semi-permanent reminders of CHOP and the ongoing unrest of the summer of 2020.


$5/MONTH? SUBSCRIBE AND SUPPORT LOCAL NEWS: Support local journalism dedicated to your neighborhood. SUBSCRIBE HERE. Join to become a subscriber at $1/$5/$10 a month to help CHS provide community news with NO PAYWALL. You can also sign up for a one-time annual payment.


Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
27 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
ColorDecourage
ColorDecourage
2 months ago

The “pre-CHOP” photo of the East Precinct looks almost surreal; I hardly recognize 12th and Pine.

Moving On
Moving On
2 months ago

So this is what we’re doing, then? Building the wall?

Sometimes I think the police and protesters deserve each other. But then I think, what about the rest of us? We need reconciliation. In order to have that, we need justice. I don’t think we get to justice through castle walls or Molotov cocktails.

I still love this neighborhood. So now what?

RWK
RWK
2 months ago

This is a sad state of affairs. Not only is the precinct now a heavily-fortified symbol of a neighborhood under siege by radical outlaws, but these necessary measures are costing taxpayers a lot of money, in materials and labor (there were many city employees working there yesterday). I wonder how much each of those cement blocks costs?

Infuriating!

Gonzo
Gonzo
2 months ago
Reply to  RWK

You think they actually manufactured these concrete blocks specifically for this purpose? That they didn’t already exist for DOT purposes like normal traffic blocking off of streets? What is infuriating is your ignorance.

HTS3
HTS3
2 months ago
Reply to  Gonzo

Hey Gonzo, thanks for forwarding the the debate about the tragic circumstances surrounding our Hill. Oh, that’s right, you didn’t do that. Instead you seem infuriated at the ignorance by a comment made about the cost of some concrete blocks. Cool.

McCloud
McCloud
2 months ago
Reply to  Gonzo

These blocks are the same blocks used to block/isolate the streets within CHAZ/CHOP a few months ago. When they were first being installed, you could still see the graffiti on most of them. They simply painted over them with that beautiful shade of brutalist-gray.

sd
sd
2 months ago
Reply to  RWK

Yes, it is very expensive to protect buildings.

It can cost over $10,000 dollars to board up a building or business downtown to protect it from the thugs that have taken over the city. They have to pay for labor and materials and beg workers to come into Seattle after hours and on weekends. I discovered this because a family member works in construction.

Very few rioters have any idea of the cost of doing business, being useless and worthless themselves.

RWK
RWK
2 months ago
Reply to  sd

Yes, and you can be sure that the criminals could care less about the huge cost (by both city and private businesses) as a result of their property destruction. In fact, they revel in it, because it is their big middle finger to “evil capitalism.”

No Walls
No Walls
2 months ago

I always thought that there was a separation between the SPD at the east precinct and the public. Before any of their fortifications were erected, the lobby of that building was uninviting and appeared unsafe, like some strange concrete check cashing place. But now they’ve built a wall. A wall. How is it that the masculine culture of the SPD can’t figure out how to hire a PR person and rebrand? It seems clear that they are scared of the community they “serve” and have no interest in productive dialogue. A wall won’t solve the issue of systemic racism, but will only contribute to greater division.

I'll wait
I'll wait
2 months ago
Reply to  No Walls

Idiotic. They are literally trying to defend themselves against arson attacks…

Name a single example of modern systematic racism.

This is pointless, but here you go
This is pointless, but here you go
2 months ago
Reply to  I'll wait

The fact that you felt compelled to ask such a stupid question indicates that no matter how many examples of systemic racism anyone shows you, you won’t acknowledge it as such. Here are 26 examples. Of course, you’ll simply deny them all:

https://www.businessinsider.com/us-systemic-racism-in-charts-graphs-data-2020-6#black-americans-have-historically-been-underrepresented-in-the-highest-echelons-of-government-as-well-4

Tutor
Tutor
2 months ago
Reply to  I'll wait

Okay, I’ll take the bait…
I wasn’t really discussing “systematic” racism (not too sure what that is, but I suppose you could consider the repeated execution of BIPOC individuals to be “systematic”). Rather, SYSTEMIC racism. And if you need others to point to modern examples, then you clearly haven’t been paying attention to anything that’s been happening in America over the past few centuries. Please do your homework.

RWK
RWK
2 months ago
Reply to  No Walls

So, you seem to be saying that “rebranding” would somehow prevent the far-left criminals from trying to destroy the East Precinct. It is the criminals who are forcing the SPD to build this wall, and unfortunately it’s necessary at this time.

Spencer Beard
Spencer Beard
2 months ago

Nothing says “the safety of the community is important to us” like a gigantic wall between the community and the police.

Adam
Adam
2 months ago
Reply to  Spencer Beard

It says, “the safety of our officers is important to us”.

It’s a bit disingenuous to suggest that this was built for no reason. Multiple arson attempts and people blowing a hole in the building with explosives a couple of weeks ago had a little something to do with this. But we can probably both agree that this is an incredibly sad symbol for what’s happening in our neighborhood and the current situation.

jonc
jonc
2 months ago

So much for “community policing.”

Adam
Adam
2 months ago

Just strolling around the Hill yesterday, it’s just so surreal. Garbage and tagging everywhere (way moreso than usual), Cal Anderson Park full of tents, store fronts boarded up, and now our police station looking like it’s the American Embassy in Baghdad.

The one encouraging sign was that some places looked pretty busy for outdoor dining, so maybe there’s hope for us to bounce back. But this is just so tough to see.

Ariel
2 months ago
Reply to  Adam

Agreed. Moved to the hood in ’97, never felt this level of grief here. It’s so rough to witness.

RWK
RWK
2 months ago
Reply to  Ariel

I agree too. I used to love living on Capitol Hill, but I don’t feel that way any more.

CH Resident
CH Resident
2 months ago

Since I’ve lived here, it’s always felt to me like the SPD hates this community and everybody in it. This is just a towering monument to how much better the SPD thinks they are than us, and how little they care about us.

Barfomatic
Barfomatic
2 months ago

This is the fault of poor long-term planning.

Police stations (and fire stations) should be purpose-built as resilient facilities. The whole purpose of an emergency service is to prepare for – and respond to – dangerous events that are out of the ordinary and unexpected (AKA emergencies).

A resilient police station would be as secure as one with a wall but constructed to blend into the community better. But this city, for years, has built police stations that look like they could house a quilting shop.

A properly constructed police station should have a standoff zone marked by architecturally decorative bollards, no first floor windows, rooftop sprinkler system, underground utilities, second floor windows with retractable metal shutters, clay tile roof, and adjacent trees and shrubbery removed. Intentionally built, a secure facility could blend into the community and not look like a fortress, but have the flexible resiliency of one.

Had the East Precinct (or any) police stations been securely constructed the July protests could have easily been allowed to flow right up and around it without any danger. There would have been no need for lines of riot police to confront the protesters due to the fragility of the building. And, today, there would be no need for an ugly brick wall.

The current state of affairs is the fault of Ed Murray, Kathleen O’Toole, Greg Nickels and a generation of Seattle leaders who typically plan for the next 30 minutes and not the next 30 years.

Moving On
Moving On
2 months ago
Reply to  Barfomatic

This thinking is the problem in a nutshell.

A police station is not a military base. Belfast is that way because of the civil war. It’s not a model.

Barfomatic
Barfomatic
2 months ago
Reply to  Moving On

The purpose of an emergency service is to prepare for – and respond to – dangerous events that are out of the ordinary and unexpected (AKA emergencies).

Emergency services must have facilities that are resilient to any potential emergency situation whether earthquake, fire, terrorist attack or civil disturbance. The community is not oppressed if you make your police stations fire proof. It is not liberated if you build them out of gasoline soaked cardboard. Your thinking is the reason we’re in this mess. It’s three failed strategy of Nickels, Murray and Durkan.

Barfomatic
Barfomatic
2 months ago

And some concrete blocks are nothing. Police stations in parts of the UK (i.e. Belfast), to this day, are surrounded by purpose-built double-ring walls, with watchtowers protected by slat armor to protect them from rocket propelled grenades. Here’s a pic of the the PSNI’s New Barnsey station:

comment image

Speaking Truth
Speaking Truth
2 months ago
Reply to  Barfomatic

And look at the history of Belfast to understand why. There are still walls here dividing the city that whose gates are closed at night on request of both sides. If you admire that, you would have loved Berlin before the wall came down.

Barfomatic
Barfomatic
2 months ago

It’s not admirable. It’s the architecture of necessity.

Your opposition to building resilient facilities is like saying “the community doesn’t like getting damaged by earthquakes, therefore, we shouldn’t put rebar in buildings.”

Our despair that Seattle is now Belfast is not justification to do nothing. We have to live in the reality of today. Not wistful longing for the past.

CH Resident
CH Resident
2 months ago
Reply to  Barfomatic

Suggesting that Seattle is now Belfast is absolutely offensive to the people who suffered from the trauma of living under the IRA. This conflict is not the same thing – not by a country mile.