Washington Gov. Jay Inslee in a Wednesday press conference said he was not aware a six-block area of Seattle had been taken over by anarchists despite the fact the group had forced police to abandon a precinct on Monday and stormed the Seattle City Hall on Tuesday night.
The area, which the protesters called the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” (CHAZ), has been declared police-free by its occupants, who are demanding that Mayor Jenny Durkan step down if she refuses to defund the city's police department. The Seattle Police Department East Precinct is surrounded by the six-block CHAZ area. The Seattle Times reported Wednesday a sign put on the precinct this week reads “THIS SPACE IS NOW PROPERTY OF THE SEATTLE PEOPLE.”
The takeover comes in the wake of nationwide unrest after the police-custody death of George Floyd, a story that has dominated headlines for weeks, nearly drowning out news of the coronavirus pandemic as unmasked, non-social distancing demonstrators and rioters have taken to American streets. But Inslee apparently did not know -- days after it had happened -- the government had lost control of a significant tract of land in his state's largest city.
“That’s news to me, so I’ll have to reserve any comment about it," he said when asked about the situation by a reporter, who noted that the anarchists were not allowing people to come and go freely. "I have not heard anything about that.”
President Trump mocked the governor via Twitter Thursday.
"Anarchists just took over Seattle and the Liberal Democrat Governor just said he knows 'nothing about that,'" Trump tweeted.
The attack from the president was the second time he had gone after Inslee online in less than 24 hours. Trump seemed to threaten to bring in federal forces to restore order to the area in a Wednesday night post.
"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," Trump said. "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!"
Inslee shot back that "A man who is totally incapable of governing should stay out of Washington state’s business. 'Stoop' tweeting."
The Inslee tweet mocked the misspelling "stooped" in Trump's original tweet, which the president deleted Wednesday afternoon and replaced with a tweet that did not have the error.
The governor, however, appeared to be unaware of a major part of "Washington state's business" days after it had happened earlier that evening.
Republican Governors Association Communications Director Amelia Alcivar also slammed Inslee on Wednesday.
“As Seattle anarchists are attempting to take leave of the United States, Absentee Jay Inslee has apparently taken leave of his mind,” she said in a statement. “Jay Inslee is either living under a rock larger than Mt. Rainier or outright lying to Washington citizens as their largest city descends into chaos. Either way, Inslee’s inability to perform the most basic functions of governing make him unequipped to run a hot dog stand, let alone a state. The people of Washington deserve a leader who will keep them safe, not surrender to Antifa.”
Inslee did address the Seattle takeover on Thursday afternoon.
"This is a challenging time. Many in our state are expressing heartfelt outrage at the very real racial injustices in our society. We have work to do now and in the future to both advance equity and protect the gains we’ve made," he said. "I spoke with @MayorJenny and her team about the situation on Capitol Hill. Although unpermitted, and we should remember we are still in a pandemic, the area is largely peaceful. Peaceful protests are fundamentally American, and I am hopeful there will be a peaceful resolution."
Inslee, in his response, appeared not to be aware that police had received reports of armed guards and extortion of businesses by the people of CHAZ.
Inslee added: "What we will not allow are threats of military violence against Washingtonians coming from the White House. The U.S. military serves to protect Americans, not the fragility of an insecure president."
Law enforcement experts on Thursday were warning that something needs to be done about the "autonomous zone" soon.
“It can’t continue like that,” Jim Fuda, the director of law enforcement services for Crime Stoppers – which works with SPD – told KOMO news. “Some action is going to have to be taken. Is there federal laws broken? Does the FBI need to come in? But at some point, arrests and these people are going to have to be removed, if they don’t move.”
Fox News' Vandana Rambaran contributed to this report.