More arrests early Thursday after police clear protest zone

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle police say they arrested more than two dozen people early Thursday who gathered in an area officers cleared hours earlier after the mayor ordered an end to the city’s “occupied” protest zone.

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In a statement police said they used pepper spray and blast balls after people in the crowd started throwing bottles at officers. Twenty-five people were arrested for failure to disperse, assault and obstruction.

The mayhem came after police cleared the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” zone just east of downtown early Wednesday morning. The group had occupied several blocks around a park for about two weeks after police abandoned a precinct station following standoffs and clashes that were part of the nationwide unrest over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

More than three dozen people were arrested early Wednesday, charged with failure to disperse, obstruction, assault and unlawful weapon possession.

Mayor Jenny Durkan ordered the area cleared after two recent fatal shootings. Seattle police said Thursday they will continue to move people from the area or arrest them per Durkan's order.

Seattle Black Collective Voice, which was formed by people in the protest zone, said Thursday that most protesters had redirected their organizing to other areas of the city in the past week and that actions of the police Wednesday “made it clear they have no intention of changing or reimagining.”

Also this week, Seattle City Council President M. Lorena González said the council won't investigate council member Kshama Sawant as Durkan requested because González wants the council to focus on other work, The Seattle Times reported.

Durkan on Tuesday asked the council to investigate Sawant, accusing her of opening City Hall to protesters June 9 and participating in a protest march to Durkan’s home on Sunday.

Sawant has said she did not organize the march and called Durkan's request an attack on working people's movements.