Police have been unable to respond to “rapes, robberies, and all sorts of violent acts” occurring in Seattle’s East Precinct, which authorities abandoned on Monday, leaving the area in the hands of activists who set up their own police-free “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” (CHAZ), Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said Thursday.
The police chief is now working on a plan to reopen the precinct, telling reporters calls for service “have more than tripled.”
“These are responses to emergency calls — rapes, robberies, and all sorts of violent acts that have been occurring in the area that we’re not able to get to,” she said.
Emergency response times in the area have tripled, she noted, going from just over five minutes to 18 minutes.
“If that is your mother, your sister, your cousin, your neighbor’s kid that is being raped, robbed assaulted (or) otherwise victimized, you’re not going to want to have to report that it took the police three times longer to get there to provide services to them,” Best said.
“It was never an option to have residents of the precinct, many of whom are members of our most marginalized communities by the way, waiting for an extra length of time for an officer to arrive to a violent crime in progress,” she stated.
The police chief also confirmed someone breached the building, which was abandoned on Monday.
Best also highlighted reports of armed individuals “patrolling” certain areas of CHAZ and said they have heard that those individuals “may be demanding payment from business owners in exchange for that protection,” although she noted at a later press conference the department had not received “any formal reports.” However, she also said in the video they have heard that individuals in the zone may be demanding to see identification from those who live in the area.