Protesters have made their own riot shields emblazoned with the pink umbrellas that have become a symbol of the demonstrations
With reporting by Jake Goldstein-Street and Alex Garland
The first night in the so-called Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone that has formed in the wake of police giving up the week-long blockade of the East Precinct was rainy and peaceful and full of speeches from activists, agitators, poets, and socialist city council members.
“I guess whatever the fuck we’re doing is effective,” one organizer identified as Magik said over a megaphone early in the night as police were still clearing the area. “They are going to move up. They are going to get everybody out of here and we are free to move through these streets and protest and march.”
“Yesterday we were on 11th and Pine. Today we have victory on 12th and Pine. They tried to stop us!,” another exclaimed.
The night brought tense moments but compared to the previous week of blast balls and clouds of gas and pepper spray, Pike/Pine was calm if not quiet — the county sheriff’s helicopter stayed circling overhead until midnight providing observations to SPD command on the ground and often drowning out speeches below. The only major reported conflict came when a TV news crew for the local Fox affiliate was temporarily chased from the scene and took up refuge in the nearby fire station.
The surprise pullback of SPD riot police and National Guard troops came together quickly Monday afternoon after a day of hastily clearing out equipment, moving trucks, and reports of a “mobile shredding unit” at the building at 12th and Pine that is home to the East Precinct headquarters as well as department office facilities. “The decision has been made to allow demonstrators to march past the East Precinct later today,” an announcement sent to department staff about the decision to close the building read. “Additional measures are currently underway to enhance our ongoing efforts to insure the security of our East Precinct and provide for the safety of all our officers.”
“The East Precinct will remain staffed,” the announcement concluded. CHS observed officers being dispatched from mobile locations away from 12th and Pine. The building is empty and windows covered with plywood. By morning, the wood was covered with graffiti giving the precinct an unexpected continuity with much of the rest of the neighborhood as many businesses are still in the process of reopening after weeks of COVID-19 restrictions.
The pullback and boarding-up of the precinct follows a Sunday night conflagration described by many as the most aggressive show of crowd control firepower yet by SPD that came only hours after a Mayor Jenny Durkan speech on deescalation.
Monday night, Durkan remained silent on the developments at the precinct until late into the night. Continue reading