Feds keeping tactical border officers on standby in Seattle
SEATTLE - After a week of destructive demonstrations, the Seattle Police Department is preparing for the possibility of more property damage, looting, arson and potential attempts to injure officers this weekend.
Ahead of the planned protests, the Department of Homeland Security has deployed federal agents to Seattle and has them on standby to protect federal property, against the wishes of local and state leaders who don't want a repeat of what's happening in Portland.
“I made clear to Acting Secretary Wolf that deployments in Seattle — like we have seen in Portland — would undermine public safety and break community trust," Mayor Jenny Durkan said Thursday night. "DHS now says they have a limited number of agents in the area on standby to protect federal buildings. Should federal forces intervene like they have in Portland, we are prepared to pursue every legal recourse. A federal judge in Portland has entered an order limiting the actions of federal forces there. We are prepared to seek the same relief if necessary.”
Gov. Jay Inslee echoed the same concerns and urged the federal officers to stand down and "do not engage unless asked."
“I am concerned that anything could aggravate the situation," Inslee said.
In a letter to the Seattle City Council, Chief Carmen Best said she's worried about the safety of officers who will no longer be allowed to use less lethal tools like pepper spray under a new ordinance.
“If I am not allowed to lawfully equip officers with the tools they have been trained to use to protect the community and themselves. It would be reckless to have them confront this level of violence under the current legal restrictions imposed by Council,” said Chief Best in the letter addressed to council.
Chief Best pointed back to recent events in which a dozen officers were injured, and on Wednesday night businesses on Capitol Hill were damaged and lit on fire.
“Luckily a neighbor came over with a fire extinguisher really quick and put it out,” said Ian Eisenber, the owner of Uncle Ike’s Pot Shop on E Olive Way. "It’s scary when people are lighting fires in a dense area like Capitol Hill that if a building lights up there’s apartments all around it."
Eisenberg is looking at upwards of $50,000 in damage. He’s hired armed securities to watch over his property during the overnight hours.
“These core group of 100 or 200 kids breaking stuff for the sake of being anarchists, the city needs to do something to step in and let the police do their job,” said Eisenberg.
Business owners on Capitol Hill and in the downtown area were seen boarding up windows - again - Friday morning to protect their storefronts from potential riots.