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Police in Seattle have cleared out the city's 'autonomous zone' and arrested over 30 protesters following an executive order from Mayor Jenny Durkan. ABC News reports that the "occupied" zone, which has been dubbed the Capitol Hill Organized Protest area, was cleared by police on Wednesday. The order from Durkan came after four shootings, two of which were fatal, occured in the area within the last month.
"Due to ongoing violence and public safety issues in the East Precinct/Cal Anderson Park area, Mayor Jenny Durkan has issued an executive order to vacate the area," the Seattle Police Department wrote on Twitter. "Seattle police will be in the area this morning enforcing the Mayor's order."
In a statement shared by Chief Carmen Best of the Seattle Police Department, he added, "Black Lives Matter, and I too want to help propel this movement toward meaningful change in our community, but enough is enough." Tensions over how to handle the area, which was set up as protests against police brutality and systemic racism started to take place across the country, have been fraught for some time now. Donald Trump has been a vocal critic of the area, while local business owners have shared their intentions to sue the city of Seattle over the situation.
"Since demonstrations at the East Precinct area began on June 8th, two teenagers have been killed and three people have been seriously wounded in late-night shootings," the city's police department said following Durkan's order. "Police have also documented robberies, assaults, and other violent crimes." The department indicated that suspects in the four shootings that took place could still have been present in the area prior to it being cleared out on Wednesday.
"I woke up to everybody screaming and running saying, ‘The cops, the cops, they’re here,’" Derreck Allen Jones II, who had stayed in the zone for several weeks, told the New York Times. When the zone was claimed by protesters near the start of June, a banner at the entrance of the area read, "This space is now property of the Seattle people." City workers have already begun to remove artwork and painted barricades.
See videos and photos of police clearing the area below.