Protesters in Seattle have seized a six-block area to create an autonomous police-free zone outside the East precinct that was abandoned on Monday.
Jim Fuda, director of Law Enforcement Services for Crime Stoppers that works with Seattle Police, told ABC News' Matt Gutman that he's "never" seen a demonstration like this.
"The people realize this building is the people's. We pay for it with our taxes. We just want to make sure it's used for the right things," one protester told ABC News, adding that they'll occupy the area for "as long as it takes."
Local law enforcement officials have come under fire for tactics in recent weeks including the use of flash bangs and pepper spray on crowds, and there are currently 14,000 complaints against Seattle police.
"We are a city that demands strong accountability for our police department and for all police across America," Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said at a press conference Thursday evening. "We must continue to reimagine and rethink policing and how we allocate funds for law enforcement and for other community-based programs."
"It is now the Capitol Hill autonomous zone," she added. "I got news for people, it’s been autonomous my whole lifetime."
Chief of Police Carmen Best addressed officers on Thursday about what she called "one of the toughest times ever in the history of the Seattle Police Department."
"You should know, leaving the precinct was not my decision. You fought for days to protect it. I asked you to stand on that line, day in and day out," she said. "I'm angry about how this all came about."
Best said the decision was made because they had "solid information to believe that [an] anti-government group would destroy the precinct" once they left.
She also said that now, as a result of their officers' vacancy, police can't respond to calls in the neighborhood for other violent crimes.
Best added Thursday afternoon she has no plans to resign.
President Donald Trump called on both Best and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Twitter, telling them to "take back your city."
"This is not a game. These ugly Anarchists must be stopped IMMEDIATELY. MOVE FAST," the president wrote.
Durkan fired back at Trump, tweeting: "Make us all safe. Go back to your bunker."
In her press conference Thursday, Durkan added, "While I hate to give him airtime, I want to address President Trump's statements about Seattle. One of the things this president will never understand is that listening to community is not a weakness, it is a strength. I also want to be clear as I stated previously, it is unconstitutional and illegal to send military to Seattle."
In an effort to de-escalate tensions with protestors, Best gave demonstrators concessions including a 30-day ban on officers' use of tear gas for crowd control, according to Seattle ABC affiliate KOMO.
This report was featured in the Friday, June 12, 2020, episode of “Start Here,” ABC News’ daily news podcast.
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