SEATTLE -- The Seattle Police Department, with help from Bellevue police and the FBI, swept into the Seattle protest zone early Wednesday with heavily equipped officers and tactical vehicles to clear out the area and arrest people who remained there.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan issued an executive order at 9:28 p.m. Tuesday, declaring "gathering in this area an unlawful assembly requiring immediate action from city agencies, including the Police Department."
Police moved in around 5 a.m., issuing dispersal orders for "anyone who remains in the area or returns to the area." They arrested 32 people by about 9:30 a.m., according to the department.
At least 100 police officers equipped with body armor, batons, helmets and weapons moved into the CHOP, which stands for Capitol Hill Organized Protest. Protesters backed away slowly, with some yelling, "We'll be back."
Protesters have occupied several blocks around Cal Anderson Park and the Police Department's East Precinct for about three weeks in a 24/7 demonstration-slash-encampment that sprang up during the wave of national protests against police brutality and racial injustice. Seattle police left the precinct in early June after standoffs and clashes with protesters.
The area had remained relatively peaceful until the weekend of June 20, when the first of four shootings near CHOP in the span of about nine days killed 19-year-old Lorenzo Anderson and injured another man. After another shooting Monday morning killed a 16-year-old boy and injured a 14-year-old boy, Seattle police Chief Carmen Best said "enough is enough."
"Two African American men are dead, at a place where they claim to be working for Black Lives Matter," she said Monday.
CHOP volunteer security guards moved through the camp, helping people quickly pack and remove their things before a slowly oncoming line of police arrived, said demonstrator Janene Karnista Hampton, a member of the Syilx People who goes by Karnista.
Karnista and her companion, Dr. Whitefeather, who is Apache and Cheyenne, spent the early morning blessing both police and protesters, burning sage and praying for everyone to get out of the area without violence.
"Everyone has done a good job here because everyone is out safe," she said. "But it will come back. This is not going away. We're still fighting for justice."