An "autonomous" protest camp in Seattle has stoked a verbal battle between the city and US President Donald Trump, who has threatened to send in the military. Mayor Jenny Durkan told him to "go back to your bunker."
Seattle's Democratic mayor, Jenny Durkan, said it would be "unconstitutional" for US President Donald Trump to send in troops to clear 500 demonstrators from the precinct where police last Monday abandoned a district bureau.
"If we have to go in, we're going to go in," Trump had told Fox News, referring to the National Guard. "These people are not going to occupy a major portion of a great city," he said.
Dubbed the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone, or CHAZ, by protesters, it was a mix Thursday of mothers with children, car-free mobility, free food donated by local restaurants and volunteer medics in tents with supplies.
"We're able to speak; it's what we've been wanting to do this whole time, without intimidation, without fear," African American demonstrator Rich Brown told the French news agency AFP.
On Sunday, police had used tear gas and flash grenades in an attempt to clear the zone. A man who drove into the crowd shot a protester.
Police inspected their vacated East Precinct station on Thursday, but it remained unstaffed.
Seattle police chief Carmen Best on YouTube told colleagues they had endured being "pelted with projectiles" and screamed at, adding it had not been her decision to abandon the precinct's police station.
Trump 'anarchists' charge rebuffed
Protestor David Lewis told Reuters: "What we have been given here is a unique opportunity to see how a police-free zone can be facilitated."
Seattle officials quoted by the New York Times rebuffed Trump's prior claims that "ugly Anarchists" and "domestic terrorists" were behind CHAZ.
Instead, they said the zone was agreed between leftwing activists and city police department as "an experiment in life without the police — part street festival and part commune."
Mayor Durkan said the city had taken down barricades to de-escalate and "rebuild community trust" while also taking steps to "minimize property damage or potential injuries."
On Thursday, Jay Inslee, governor of Washington state, also entered the verbal clash with Trump, who claimed Thursday that millions of Americans were being falsely labeled as racist or bigots."
"A man who is totally incapable of governing should stay out of Washington state's business," said Inslee — like Durkan — a Democrat, and former prosecutor of the northwestern US Pacific state of which Seattle is its largest city.
Seattle's drama is part of protests across the USA over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.
His funeral Thursday in Houston Texas attracted worldwide attention.
One recent survey (FiveThirtyEight) showed Trump's approval rating at 41%, while another RealClearPolitics put him on 41.7%, with his presumptive Democratic rival Joe Biden ahead currently on 49.8%.
ipj/mm (AFP, Reuters,)
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that a man who drove into the crowd at the CHAZ on Sunday had suffered a gunshot wound. In fact, the man had driven into the crowd and shot a protester. DW apologizes for the error.