Federal Agents Have Left Seattle after Local Officials’ Complaints, Mayor Says

Federal law enforcement officers stand during riots against the presence of law enforcement in Portland, Oregon, July 22, 2020. (Caitlin Ochs/Reuters)

Federal agents sent to Seattle to protect federal property have been removed from the city after local officials complained their presence was escalating tensions.

Mayor Jenny Durkan had rejected the deployment of U.S. tactical forces sent to the city last week, saying it did not have the consent of local officials and could counterintuitively provoke, not prevent, property damage, Reuters reported.

The Department of Homeland Security told the Mayor that the agents had left Seattle, according to a tweet the mayor sent on Tuesday. 

“@DHSgov notified me that federal forces deployed to Seattle have demobilized & left,” she tweeted. “The President’s actions to target Democratic cities with federal forces is chilling and increased violence in Portland, Seattle & other cities – exactly what the President intended.”

“While continuing to denounce these federal actions in Portland and across the country, we will not be diverted from the work of dismantling systemic racism in order to build a more just city and nation,” she added.

Durkan had previously joined several other Democratic mayors in calling for an end to violence at protests after President Trump used images of rioters’ destruction for his re-election campaign ads.

Seattle had previously allowed for the formation of the CHOP, or Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone in June, where protestors took over multiple city blocks and a park and disallowed any government or emergency services, which ultimately may have contributed to the death of a 19-year-old. Though the “autonomous” zone was cleared earlier this month, the city saw its biggest Black Lives Matter protest in weeks over the weekend. 

Tensions and violence have flared at protests around the country: A man was fatally shot at an Austin, Texas demonstration and two protestors were shot and wounded in Aurora, Colo.  

U.S. agents were sent to Portland, Oregon to protect a federal courthouse as rioters have continued to attack and set fire to the building. Rioters have tried to tear down a fence erected around the courthouse and have been met with tear gas, pepper balls and stun grenades deployed by federal agents.

Two U.S. agents may have been permanently blinded by lasers used by activists and other officers have been wounded by industrial-grade fireworks, rocks and firebombs, U.S. attorney general William Barr said in a congressional hearing on Tuesday. Far more officers have been injured than demonstrators, he added. 

Protest groups sued the Department of Homeland Security on Monday, arguing that it was unconstitutional for federal agents to take on responsibilities reserved for state and local law enforcement.

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