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Seattle Police Department says East Precinct wall can finally come down — if threats of ‘arson and property damage’ have passed

After only a couple hours of forklift work and a day or two more for the fencing, a barrier wall went up in August around the East Precinct headquarters.

It is taking much, much longer to take it down.

Three months after Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office said Seattle Police was beginning the process of removing the 12th and Pine barrier that has cut the building off from the neighborhood since late summer, the department announced this week it is… beginning the process.

“The Seattle Police Department has been actively engaging with Capitol Hill residents, business owners and community leaders and hears their concerns about the barriers at the East Precinct,” a statement released by SPD reads. “As a result of those discussions, work has begun. Broken windows are being replaced and will be covered temporarily with plywood. The concrete barrier will also be removed and replaced temporarily with a fence.”

SPD is “taking these steps,” it says, “to reduce obstacles between officers and the people we serve.”

Those steps to remove the bolted cement blocks and fencing have been taken with an abundance of caution.

In January, CHS reported on work that began involving removing plywood and repairing precinct windows police said had been broken during ongoing protests targeting the facility. But by early March as the barrier wall around downtown’s West Precinct came down, the East Precinct was still surrounded, looking like an apocalyptic urban fortress.

At the time, precinct commander Capt. Eric Sano said there was no timetable for taking down the wall around the precinct building, telling an East Precinct community meeting that Chief Adrian Diaz’s staff was figuring out the process for fixing windows, eliminating the protective wooden boards, and removing the concrete blocks that have become a frequent flashpoint in conflicts with SPD and activists over graffiti and tagging of anti-police messages on the wall.

“I want to get that precinct open because it’s not right, it’s not a good way for our officers to work or for the community,” Sano said.

CHS reported here in August as the Seattle Department of Transportation installed concrete “eco-blocks” and a wire fence along Pine and 12th Ave, blocking sidewalks and crosswalks and obstructing bike lanes.

The Seattle Police Department said the barrier was necessary amid ongoing protest and arson threats after reclaiming the building following the CHOP sweep.

It’s not clear how significant those threats were — and remain. In the most high profile arson attack on the building, a 19-year-old was hit with federal charges for a fire started outside the building in August. That week, the barrier went up around the precinct. Later incidents were closer to this October attack in which a handful of protesters were arrested after dumping trash over the barrier wall. Others have been taken into custody for what SPD has said was graffiti with paint and chalk on the wall.

While protests have continued in the neighborhood, anti-police activities have waned from the late summer’s heights. Meanwhile, new flashpoints are nearing as the Derek Chauvin murder trial in the police killing of George Floyd plays out in Minnesota and Seattle readies for another May Day.

A Seattle Police spokesperson said she could not provide more specific information on the timing for the first phases of the planned work involving the windows, plywood, and replacing the cement wall with a temporary fence.

She said the department would be watching for “negative reaction” to the new temporary fence in determining how to proceed.

The department says the full removal timeline including taking down the planned temporary fence will depend on “whether the building again becomes a target for arson and property damage.”

“It is the Department’s hope to fully re-open the East Precinct to our neighbors as soon as possible,” the statement concludes.


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RWK
RWK
13 days ago

I fear that taking down the wall will provoke the far-left criminals to come out of the woodwork and attack it again. At the very least, it should remain in place until after the verdict in the Chauvin trial, because if he is acquitted (unlikely but possible) all hell will break loose. And sometime after May Day would also be a prudent timeline.

slider292
slider292
13 days ago
Reply to  RWK

Such an obvious precaution, right?

Caphiller
Caphiller
12 days ago
Reply to  RWK

With your logic the wall will never come down. Sadly, “protesters” will always have an excuse to wreak havoc. I’d rather we live with that risk than have a fortress at 12th and pine for the foreseeable future

DSuzanne
DSuzanne
12 days ago
Reply to  Caphiller

Then you go sit in the lobby on 3rd watch. Literally the #seattleprotests folks on Twitter are salivating over the chance to attack the building again. When the boards were taken down it was like 2 hours before the window was broken again.

Whichever
Whichever
12 days ago
Reply to  RWK

Protesting is a sport here. They’ll protest/riot even if he is found guilty, tarred, feathered, etc.

Nigel Senada
Nigel Senada
12 days ago

We’ll have to at least wait till all those rich kids become fully vested in their trust funds and pursue interests other than vandalising our neighborhood.

Neighbor
Neighbor
12 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Senada

As someone who lives and works in Capitol Hill I applaud this and wish only that they would go faster. The wall is a mar on the neighborhood and says terrible things about SPD and its relationship with the community. I would take a little vandalism over the wall any day.

DSuzanne
DSuzanne
12 days ago
Reply to  Neighbor

Would you sit in the lobby on 3rd watch, when folks are already talking on Twitter about attacking the building again?

Whichever
Whichever
12 days ago
Reply to  Neighbor

I think it says far worse things about the protests than it does the PD, tbh.

Nope
Nope
12 days ago

And then fix the parking meters ?

Russ
Russ
12 days ago

It’s time for the wall to come down, public opinion has turned against the window smashers enough that if anything happens to the precinct the public will blame black bloc rather than thinking SPD deserved it.

C Doom
C Doom
12 days ago
Reply to  Russ

IDK about that. Sawant voters haven’t changed their minds on the value of protest, up to and including smashing capitalism.

HCK
HCK
12 days ago

Considering the difficulties to many disabled folks around this poor decision of building a wall around the precinct (similarly to the catastrophic loss of 4 transit stops last year and only 2 being returned to service); why can’t the city/police have someone posted outside to attempt to connect to our community? If the “direct action” people show up, intervene as appropriate (I know, “appropriate” is a loaded term in all of this). And where is our fearless “leader” Sawant – who did NOTHING last year to directly help the neighborhood situation last year and is sadly continuing on today. Police/city choices and direct actionists are both to blame and have destroyed any semblance of focus on the real issues of social justice.

A.J.
A.J.
12 days ago

That wall is worse than any amount of vandalism. You could spray paint the entire block and it would be preferable to that dangerous and hideous monstrosity. They didn’t do any neighborhood engagement when putting up the wall, and have ignored any and all inquiries for the last 8 months, so not real confident in their willingness to work with the community. Also “chalk” is still not vandalism, and the threats of arson were from far right instigators – the ones who burned down the station in Minneapolis in an attempt to escalate tensions.

slider292
slider292
12 days ago
Reply to  A.J.

The people who tossed Molotov cocktails into the building, then attempted to entrap police, were not far-right. Nice try though.

Emily
Emily
9 days ago
Reply to  slider292

That didn’t actually happen. Stop believing SPD spin.

Zach
Zach
12 days ago
Reply to  A.J.

The wall was put up in response to the (left-wing) arson attempt where rioters tried to concrete all the precinct exits in and start a fire. A guy from Alaska was arrested and pled guilty to the arson. You can see that if you follow a few links from this article.

C Doom
C Doom
12 days ago
Reply to  A.J.

Chalk by fun people celebrating and promoting things is not vandalism.

Spoiled people and protest tourists chalking ACAB and various slogans of hate and rebellion, in the context of smashing up property at the same time … nah, thats vandalism. Sorry your custodial parent never explained you the difference.

Glenn
Glenn
12 days ago
Reply to  A.J.

Drink much Koolaid lately AJ? Far right burned the Minneapolis police station too? Guess I cant laugh at all those Trump supporters contending the capital assault in DC was left wing agitators dressed in Trump paraphernalia.

Fairly Obvious
Fairly Obvious
10 days ago
Reply to  Glenn

Far right burned the Minneapolis police station too?

Do yourself a favor and search for Ivan Harrison Hunter, the far right extremist from Texas charged with driving from Texas to Minnesota to burn down the Minneapolis 3rd precinct police station.

Guess I cant laugh at all those Trump supporters contending the capital assault in DC was left wing agitators dressed in Trump paraphernalia.

It’s no laughing matter how gullible people in our country have become. I don’t know what else we can expect from 50 years of cutting education funding to give tax cuts to the extremely wealthy. We were told something would trickle down, but it ain’t critical thinking skills.

Zach
Zach
12 days ago

I’m kinda bummed we’re going to lose the wall that helps protect us from the police.

Crow
Crow
12 days ago

Not sure why people react so negatively to the wall. Plenty of police departments around the world, including in the USA, are fortified. You never know when the zombies will attack. I think it looks cool.

Whichever
Whichever
12 days ago

If you were to believe the comment threads here and on Reddit, it’d really seem like you just can’t walk anywhere on Capitol Hill without somehow having to come across this wall at this one intersection.

HCK
HCK
10 days ago
Reply to  Whichever

Whichever, comments like yours demonstrate the lack of understanding in what it means to be disabled in a way that for many living by this spot cannot easily, if at all, navigate around. The same ableism comments were made around the loss of our 4 transit stops on Pine last year. It’s a huge issue that remains unaddressed and severely impactful to many.

Whichever
Whichever
10 days ago
Reply to  HCK

Sure, Jan. Maybe it’s just that everyone bitches about this intersection as if it’s the only one in town. Yes, it’d be nice for it to come down, but it’d be nice if it didn’t have to go up in the first place, now wouldn’t it?

John Whittier Treat
John Whittier Treat
12 days ago

Wait until the end of the Chauvin trial at least.

Chris
Chris
11 days ago

Why does our council rep never have any comment on this?