Seattle councilwoman says police precinct should remain in community control permanently

A Seattle councilwoman has positioned herself at the forefront of the movement to permanently oust city police officials from the downtown area that thas now been designated the "Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone" (CHAZ).

As law enforcement officials struggle to identify the leaders of the movement who are calling to defund the police, and broker negotiations with them to allow officers to return to the now boarded-shut East Precinct, Kshama Sawant, on Thursday, urged protesters to hold strong to the six-block region they've designated a "no cop" zone.

In this June 12, 2018, file photo, Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant speaks at City Hall in Seattle.

In this June 12, 2018, file photo, Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant speaks at City Hall in Seattle. (AP)

Sawant has said she will introduce legislation to convert the precinct into "a community center for restorative justice."

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"The process for deciding East Precinct conversion must include those involved in CHAZ, black community organizations, restorative justice, faith, anti-racist, renter orgns, land trusts, groups, labor unions that have a proven record of fighting racism," Sawant wrote in a post on Twitter.

"Our movement needs to urgently ensure East Precinct is not handed back to police but is turned over permanently into community control," she wrote.

A possible leader behind the movement, Sawant has actively participated in demonstrations calling to defund the police and allowed over a thousand demonstrators into City Hall earlier this week in a late-night protest calling for Mayor Jenny Durkan to resign.

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Protesters have sparred with police for weeks following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis while he was in police custody. Demonstrations turned violent, with several shootings occurring-- one after a protester rammed his vehicle into a crowd and shot a bystander. Police, too, used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the crowd, further agitating demands for cops to flee the area.

Earlier this week, East Precinct officers were told to abandon the area, in an effort to deescalate tensions between police and protesters. Since then, officers have faced off with protesters inside CHAZ who have used barricades and verbal protests to keep police out.

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President Trump has repeatedly slammed Democratic lawmakers in Seattle, including Durkan and Gov. Jay Inslee, demanding that they "end this Seattle takeover now!"

Durkan, on Thursday, said Trump's input is unwanted, and said she will continue to work towards a peaceful solution between city officials and protesters.