Crackdown on autonomous zones.
Demonstrators in Nashville, Tennessee and Asheville, North Carolina have attempted to emulate protesters in Seattle by establishing police-free ‘autonomous zones’ protected by barricades, as police union officials in Seattle warn that their city is on the verge of ‘lawlessness’.
The efforts in Tennessee and North Carolina were met with a strong response from local authorities, in contrast to Seattle where demonstrators in the ‘CHAZ’ have taken control of a police precinct and remain manning the barricades armed after five days.
In Asheville, activists say that about 100 people gathered Friday night on Lexington Avenue under the Interstate 280 overpass, where they attempted to block the street with barricades and take control of the area.
Police responded in force and tore down the barricades, video from the scene shows. Demonstrators issued a cry for reinforcements on social media and vowed to return on Saturday.
‘People are needed now! Please share this if you can’t be here. Supplies also needed,’ one organizer posted on Twitter.
Police in Asheville, North Carolina responded in force and tore down barricades blocking a public road as they quickly broke up the attempted ‘autonomous zone’ that demonstrators attempted to create there
In Nashville, a group of protesters converged on the Legislative Plaza on Friday, announcing plans to seize the area in front of the Tennessee statehouse as an ‘autonomous zone.’
The demonstrators declared that the plaza would be re-named Ida B. Wells Plaza, after the early civil rights leader. Video from the scene showed the demonstrators chanting and singing on the plaza late into the night, apparently left to their own devices by law enforcement.
However, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, a Republican, warned protesters in his state against trying to seize territory.
‘Lawlessness, autonomous zones, and violence will not be tolerated,’ Lee said in a statement. ‘Further, Tennessee law expressly prohibits camping on state property not expressly designated as a campground area, and that law will be enforced.’
Lee added that he supports the right to peaceful assembly and peaceful protest under the First Amendment, and would continue to protect those rights.
Demonstrators begin to set up a tent in Legislative Plaza in Nashville as they attempt to establish their own ‘autonomous zone’ on Friday, following the inspiration of demonstrators in Seattle
A flier for Friday’s event in Nashville called for protesters to ‘reclaim the plaza for the people of Tennesse’
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, a Republican, warned that ‘Lawlessness, autonomous zones, and violence will not be tolerated’
The ‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,’ or CHAZ, in Seattle continued to thrive on Friday, after demonstrators seized control of a police precinct and the surrounding blocks.
In Seattle, Police Officers Guild President Michael Solan told Fox News on Friday that the city is now the ‘closest I’ve ever seen … to becoming a lawless state.’
Solan told host Harris Faulkner that legitimate issues of police brutality and racism had been ‘stolen by unreasonable activists in the city of Seattle.
‘And now, they control six square blocks,’ he added. ‘They control the precinct. And that is a direct result of our city-elected officials lacking the political willpower to enforce the rule of law.’
‘And, this is the closest I’ve ever seen our country, let alone the city here, to becoming a lawless state when public safety issues are deeply, deeply concerning,’ Solan went on.
Protesters hang out over several blocks they call the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, nicknamed the CHAZ, in Seattle
A defaced sign is seen over the East Precinct in Seattle, which was abandoned by police on Monday
People work in a garden inside an area called by protesters the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone
(CHAZ) in Seattle
A sign in the CHAZ requests donations of supplies
Seattle’s Police Chief Carmen Best has said that having the East Precinct out of service has caused police response times to violent crimes in progress to increase threefold.
Solan warned that the situation could devolve further if the protesters were emboldened.
‘What’s to stop them from taking another precinct?’ he asked. ‘West Precinct — where 300 protesters marched on it two nights ago, where officers were ordered back inside, outside the perimeter — If we lose that flagship precinct, that houses the 911 communications center. Therefore, if that becomes disabled, how do we provide public safety services to the entire city?’
Meanwhile, demonstrators inside the CHAZ have been requesting donations of cigarettes and Gatorade, as well as other items.
On Friday afternoon, a March of Silence drew 60,000 participants, according to estimates from organizers Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County. The size of the crowd could not be independently confirmed by DailyMail.com.
Marchers silently walked about 1.8 miles from Seattle’s Judkins Park to Jefferson Park. The organization said thousands more demonstrators marched in cities across the state.
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Protesters silently march up 23rd Avenue South in Seattle, Washington on Friday. Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County hosted a silent march from Judkins Park up 23rd Avenue South ending at Jefferson Park
People sit near a barricade next to a sign reading “Conversation Cafe” in the Seattle CHAZ
People look at a memorial site of protesters killed during recent violence within the Seattle CHAZ
While protesters say the CHAZ shows how people can manage without police intervention, it’s drawn scorn from President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly threatened to ‘go in’ to stop the ‘anarchists’ he says have taken over the liberal city after officers withdrew to ease tensions.
Trump taunted Governor Jay Inslee and Mayor Jenny Durkan about the situation on Twitter and said the city had been taken over by ‘anarchists.’ ‘Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will,’ Trump tweeted.
The president continued his complaints in a Thursday interview with the Fox News Channel. ‘If we have to go in, we´re going to go in,’ Trump said. ‘These people are not going to occupy a major portion of a great city.’
MIAMI: Protesters run down a road in downtown Miami on Friday during a protest over the death of George Floyd
MINNEAPOLIS: Protesters hold American flag outside the Minneapolis Police and Fire Union Offices on Friday
MASSACHUSETTS: Protesters march against police brutality, Friday in Salem, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
BALTIMORE: “Defund police” is painted in front of Baltimore City Hall as demonstrators take part in a protest
Washington´s governor and Seattle´s mayor, both Democrats, have rebuked Trump and say local officials are trying to find a peaceful resolution following demonstrations that turned violent last weekend.
Inslee tweeted Thursday that state officials will not allow threats of military violence from the White House. ‘The U.S. military serves to protect Americans, not the fragility of an insecure president,’ he tweeted.
In the latest twist, a U.S. judge on Friday ordered Seattle police to temporarily stop using tear gas, pepper spray and flash-bang devices.
The demonstrators say they will continue to occupy the CHAZ until their demands are met, including abolishing Seattle’s police department and courts.