Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said Tuesday she had received confirmation that U.S. agents had left the area after being sent to Seattle last week to protect federal buildings amid lingering unrest over the police killing of George Floyd.
Durkan, Gov. Jay Inslee and other local leaders said in a joint news release that the Department of Homeland Security’s Border Patrol Tactical Unit had demobilized. Durkan, Inslee and others had expressed concerns over the deployment of federal forces to Washington state without consulting or seeking consent from local officials.
On Friday they sent a letter to U.S. Attorney Brian Moran, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. department of Homeland Security seeking clarification on the intended scope of the action. Officials did not say why the federal agents decided to leave.
“This demobilization means Washingtonians no longer have to worry about the White House’s aim to provoke confrontation and undermine peaceful protests,” Inslee said.
Durkan called the president’s actions “to target and ‘dominate’ Democratic cities through the use of federal forces” chilling.
“It has increased violence in Portland, Seattle and other cities across the country, which was what the president intended,” the mayor said. “We will continue to heed this moment in history and to work with the community to make systemic and generational changes to make Seattle more just.”
The agents arrived Thursday after businesses in Seattle were vandalized in the downtown area and in the nearby Capitol Hill neighborhood. Last month, protesters set up an occupied protest zone that stretched for several blocks in the neighborhood. That lasted for about two weeks until authorities returned in force and cleared it on July 1.
Protesters over the weekend remained near a Seattle police precinct in that area. Police later declared it a riot and made arrests but the police chief said she hadn’t seen any U.S. agents.
Federal agents sent to Portland have been using tear gas, pepper balls and stun grenades on people outside a federal courthouse who have been protesting their presence and police brutality. Protesters have tried to tear down a fence erected to protect the building, set fires and hurled fireworks and other objects at the building and at agents.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty on Monday asked Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf for a meeting to discuss a cease-fire and their desire for the removal of the extra federal agents.