Attorney General William Barr is praising Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best after the city’s police took control of the area that had been known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) zone.
In a statement on Wednesday, Barr said, “I commend Police Chief Carmen Best for her courage and leadership in restoring the rule of law in Seattle.”
“For the past several weeks, the Capitol Hill area of Seattle was occupied by protesters who denied access to police and other law enforcement personnel. Unsurprisingly, the area became a haven for violent crime, including shootings that claimed the lives of two young people, assaults, and robberies,” he added.
On Wednesday, Seattle police returned to a police precinct, and the CHOP area after Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) ordered protesters to leave.
Thirteen people were arrested as police took control of the area. Early in the day, the police told protesters to leave and warned that those who did not leave or returned would be arrested.
In a statement addressing the protesters, Best said, “I support peaceful demonstrations. Black Lives Matter, and I too want to help propel this movement toward meaningful change in our community. But enough is enough.”
“The CHOP has become lawless and brutal. Four shootings—two fatal—robberies, assaults, violence and countless property crimes have occurred in this several block area,” she continued.
Best appeared to be referencing a series of shootings that took place in the area.
“My job, and the job of our officers, is to protect and serve our community. This is not an end to our department’s engagement with demonstrators. We must continue our efforts to build trust and redefine our roles as guardians in our city,” Best added.
“As Chief Best made clear throughout the process, there is a fundamental distinction between discussion of substantive issues — including addressing distrust of law enforcement by many in the African-American community — and violent defiance of the law. Chief Best has rightly committed to continue the substantive discussion while ending the violence, which threatens innocent people and undermines the very rule-of-law principles that the protesters profess to defend.”
“The message of today’s action is simple but significant: the Constitution protects the right to speak and assemble freely, but it provides no right to commit violence or defy the law, and such conduct has no place in a free society governed by law,” he added.
Trump had previously lashed out at Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and Durkan for letting protesters occupy a portion of the city, IJR reported.
“You have a governor who doesn’t do a damn thing about it, and you have a mayor that doesn’t know she’s alive,” Trump said, adding, “Seattle’s a big city, and we have a governor who’s a stiff and we have a mayor who said, ‘Oh this is gonna be a love fest.’”
He also warned, “If they don’t do the job, I’ll do the job.”
Finally, Trump said, “The problem with what happened in Seattle is it spreads. And all of a sudden they’ll say let’s do some other city.”