SEATTLE -- President Donald Trump on Wednesday posted on social media telling Seattle and Washington state leaders to "take back your city."
Protesters have taken over the area around the Seattle Police Department's East Precinct at 11th Ave. and Pine St. in the Capitol Hill neighborhood during ongoing George Floyd protests.
The tweet read:
"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 sto oped IMMEDIATELY. MOVE FAST!"
At a news conference Wednesday, Assistant Chief Deanna Nollette said barriers were removed from the front of the precinct after it became a flashpoint between officers and protesters. Over the weekend officers used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse demonstrators in the area after they say they were assaulted with projectiles.
However several City Councilmembers say police overreacted and needlessly exacerbated tensions. Nollette said the precinct has been boarded up because of credible threats that it would be vandalized or burned. No officers have been seen in the area.
Mayor Durkan responded to Trump later Wednesday evening saying, "Make us all safe. Go back to your bunker. #BlackLivesMatter."
Earlier in the day, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was asked about the area, referred to as the "Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone," but said he was unaware of the situation.
He later tweeted a response.
Officers have used tear gas, pepper spray and other less-lethal weapons against crowds that have demonstrated against racism and police brutality following the killing of Floyd in Minneapolis. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best have apologized to peaceful protesters who were subjected to chemical weapons, but even after they promised a 30-day ban on using CS gas, one type of tear gas, last Friday, officers used it again two nights later, saying unruly demonstrators were encroaching on their position.
A Black Lives Matter group on Tuesday sued the Seattle Police Department to halt the tactics it has used to break protests.
After protesters called for Seattle police to turn on body cameras during demonstrations to guard against police violence and to improve accountability, Police Chief Carmen Best on Wednesday issued a directive for that, effective immediately. The existing rule had required officers to turn off their body cameras during protests, which was previously supported by the ACLU and members of the city council related to privacy concerns.
Also on Wednesday, King County’s top public health official declared racism a public health crisis. Decades of systemic racism has adversely affected Black people and other people of color in the United States, said Patty Hayes, director of Public Health – Seattle & King County.
She pledged that her agency will recommit to working with the community and with King County executive Dow Constantine’s office to break down the systemic issues that lead to negative health impacts for people of color
The Associated Press contributed to this story.