One youth has been killed and and another wounded in Seattle’s “occupied” protest zone — the second deadly shooting in the area that local officials have vowed to change after business complaints and criticism from Donald Trump.
The violence – just over a week after another shooting in the zone left one person dead and another wounded – was “dangerous and unacceptable”, said Police Chief Carmen Best.
“Enough is enough,” she told reporters. “We need to be able to get back into the area.”
Demonstrators have occupied several blocks around Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct and a park for about two weeks after police abandoned the facility following standoffs and clashes with protesters calling for racial justice and an end to police brutality.
Witnesses reported seeing a white Jeep near one of the makeshift barriers around the protest zone at about 3am on Monday, just before the shooting, a police statement said.
Callers to 911 said several people fired shots into the vehicle and police said two people who were probably the occupants were taken to hospital.
A 16-year-old was pronounced dead at Harborview Medical Centre, and a 14-year-old male is in critical condition with gunshot injuries.
“Detectives searched the Jeep for evidence, but it was clear the crime scene had been disturbed,” the police statement said.
A 19-year-old man was killed on June 20 and a 33-year-old man was wounded.
Ms Best said the shootings are obscuring the message of racial justice that protesters say they are promoting.
“Two African American men are dead, at a place where they claim to be working for Black Lives Matter. But they’re gone, they’re dead now,” she said.
Mayor Jenny Durkan said last week that the city would start trying to dismantle what has been named the “Capitol Hill Organised Protest” area. City workers on Friday tried to remove makeshift barriers around the area but stopped their work after demonstrators objected.
In recent weeks, I’ve had more than a dozen meetings with organizations, Black leaders, and protesters. Right now, I am at City Hall doing the work.— Mayor Jenny Durkan (@MayorJenny) June 29, 2020
Nearby businesses and property owners filed a federal lawsuit against the city last Wednesday, claiming officials had been too tolerant of those who created the zone and have deprived property owners of their rights by allowing the zone to continue.
The business owners said they were not trying to undermine the protesters’ anti-police-brutality and Black Lives Matter messages.
But they said they have suffered because the zone has limited access to their businesses and some owners trying to clean graffiti from their storefronts or attempting to photograph protesters have been threatened.
The president has repeatedly criticised the Seattle protest area and city leaders, saying the zone is run by “anarchists”.