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Police Clear Seattle’s Protest ‘Autonomous Zone’

“The deteriorating conditions and repeated gun violence required us to immediately address public safety concerns,” Mayor Durkan said. “It was clear that many individuals would not leave, and that the impacts to the community could not be reduced, and public safety could not be improved, until they did leave.”

Chief Best said it even more succinctly earlier in the day: “Enough is enough.”

The move to clear the area came as protests against police brutality around the country have begun to wane. Many cities, including Seattle, have committed to new police reforms after Mr. Floyd’s death, and some of the officers involved in the most recent shooting deaths of Black people, including Mr. Floyd, have been fired and charged with crimes.

There are continuing moves to redefine the mission of police departments around the country, and to arrest other officers involved in deadly shootings of Black people, including Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician who was shot by Louisville, Ky., police officers at her home.

But millions of Americans are out of work because of the coronavirus, and some of those whose grievances go well beyond the latest cases of police violence have remained in the streets to demand further change. Perhaps taking a cue from Seattle, demonstrators in Portland, Philadelphia, Richmond, Va., and elsewhere have tried to set up protest sites of their own.

In New York, what started as a small group of protesters and a few square feet morphed into a group that took over the large part of a park, and attracted extensive attention on social media. Police officers tried to clear the area on Wednesday morning, removing barricades and making several arrests.

The Seattle protest zone included tents, a “Decolonization Conversation Cafe” and even a medic station over six blocks, establishing what protesters called a “no-cop” zone after the police agreed to board up their precinct station and withdraw outside the barricades. Part street fair, part commune, the so-called CHOP became an experiment in maintaining order with no police in sight.

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