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Seattle Protesters Declare Autonomous Zone Around Police Precinct After Heated Standoff with Police

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Image Credit: Omari Salisbury

In Seattle, protesters have barricaded a six-block autonomous zone, after protests were met with a violent police response. Amid a days-long standoff, police removed barricades and abandoned their East Precinct building, and protesters moved into the area, declaring it “Free Capitol Hill.” We go to Seattle to speak with Omari Salisbury, a citizen journalist who has been live-streaming the uprising and police crackdown.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. Protesters in Seattle, Washington, have taken over several city blocks after a protracted standoff with the police force there, shutting down a police precinct, declaring part of the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood an autonomous zone. Citizen journalist Omari Salisbury live-streamed Seattle police using pepper spray, tear gas, flashbang grenades on demonstrators and reporters, like himself. Facing mounting criticism for its militarized response, the Seattle Police Department abandoned its Capitol Hill precinct this week.

Last night, President Trump tweeted, quote, “Radical Left Governor @JayInslee and the Mayor of Seattle are being taunted and played at a level that our great Country has never seen before. Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will. This is not a game. These ugly Anarchists must be stooped IMMEDIATELY. MOVE FAST!” President Trump tweeted. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan responded by tweeting, “Make us all safe. Go back to your bunker. #BlackLivesMatter.”

For more, we go to Seattle for our last few minutes to speak with Omari Salisbury, who’s been covering the protests in Seattle since they started, on Twitter and for his website, Converge Media.

Welcome, Omari, to Democracy Now! You yourself have been hit by what the police call the less-than-lethal ammunition, that has hurt so many, injured you and many others around the country. Talk about what’s happening in Seattle.

OMARI SALISBURY: Well, right now I’m actually sitting right here in the middle of this new autonomous zone, the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. And yeah, I mean, quickly, it was several days of just heated standoffs here, man, where it was a lot of tear gas, a lot of other types of weapons. And one thing you didn’t mention is rubber bullets or the rubber projectiles, which I also got hit quite a few times with that, as well. And the protesters just kept protesting, until the city of Seattle decided to abandon the police precinct, and which now is literally the town square here in the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about what happened to you personally and what it means to be hit by this, and what’s happening in Seattle right now.

OMARI SALISBURY: Well, you know, for me, every May Day there’s something that goes on, and there’s kind of a police reaction. I didn’t come there to cover the reaction; I was just covering, you know, the protest, because they were happening nationwide. And, I mean, I found myself continuously on the frontline trying to cover it, because almost every day there was a clash there with the protesters and the police. And the issue I don’t think was really that the police responded; it was the proportionality of the response — I mean, an incredible amount of tear gas, an incredible amount of force against protesters, that I would say the majority of, you know, in the high 90 percentile, were just peaceful people that actually live in this neighborhood. And those are the people who are now occupying or created this CHAZ zone.

AMY GOODMAN: And we’re going to talk about this new zone, this imagine a new world is possible, in Part 2 of our discussion. Omari, thanks so much for being with us. Please stay with us, and we’re going to post it at democracynow.org. Omari Salisbury, citizen journalist in Seattle with Converge Media.

That does it for our show. Democracy Now! is produced with Renée Feltz, Mike Burke, Deena Guzder, Libby Rainey, Nermeen Shaikh, Carla Wills, Tami Woronoff, Charina Nadura, Sam Alcoff, Tey-Marie Astudillo, John Hamilton, Robby Karran, Hany Massoud, Adriano Contreras and María Taracena. Special thanks to our general manager, Julie Crosby. Special thanks to Becca Staley, Miriam Barnard, Paul Powell, Mike DiFilippo, Miguel Nogueira, Hugh Gran, Denis Moynihan, David Prude and Dennis McCormick. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. Stay safe.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

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