SEATTLE - U.S. Attorney General William Barr offered strong praise for Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best Wednesday after police dismantled the occupied protest zone that's been at the center of controversy for the past three weeks.
“I commend Police Chief Carmen Best for her courage and leadership in restoring the rule of law in Seattle," Barr said in a prepared statement. "Unsurprisingly, the area became a haven for violent crime."
Police Chief Carmen Best (Q13 News photo)
Police said on Twitter that at least 31 people were arrested for failure to disperse, obstruction, resisting arrest, and assault after hundreds of SPD officers swiftly moved in and dismantled the zone early Wednesday morning.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan issued an executive order to disperse the protesters who have been occupying several blocks surrounding the Seattle Police Department's East Precinct. SPD abandoned the precinct June 8, allowing the CHOP (Capitol Hill Occupid Protest) to move in.
The area grew increasingly violent over the past three weeks, and police would not enter the protest zone unless it was a life-threatening emergency. Two teens were killed and three other people were seriously injured in shootings inside the CHOP over the past three weeks.
Best has repeatedly said she did not support the decision to abandon the East Precinct and criticized the CHOP as a distraction from the real police reform and racial injustice issues that protesters are trying to address.
"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," Barr said. "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.”