US agents dispatched to Seattle to protect federal buildings

Chris Grygiel
Associated Press

Seattle – More federal agents have been dispatched to Seattle to protect federal property amid lingering unrest in the city following the shutdown earlier this month of a protest zone where demonstrators camped out for weeks during George Floyd protests.

The agents with the special response team of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency will not confront demonstrators in Seattle like federal agents sent to Portland, Oregon have in their nightly clashes with protesters, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said she was told.

The agents sent to Seattle are on standby to help other federal law enforcement officials protect federal facilities in the city, said two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the plans who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to discuss the operation publicly.

Workers from a Capitol Hill property management company clean up the intersection of 11th and E. Pike Street, Thursday in Seattle, where clothing from the business, Rove, at left was looted and lit on fire in the street last night.

They arrived after businesses in Seattle were vandalized this week in the downtown area and in the nearby Capitol Hill neighborhood. A small section of Capitol Hill was occupied last month by the protesters and turned into the so-called “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest Zone.”

Demonstrators took over the the several block area for about two weeks until authorities returned in force and cleared out the area on July 1 after two fatal shootings.

King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a tweet late Thursday that a federal plane landed at an airport in Seattle that evening and that “more than a dozen personnel drove off to an unknown destination.”

President Donald Trump’s administration has also announced that agents would be sent to Chicago and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Constantine said people in the Seattle area reject “Trump’s unconstitutional use of federal force. It is a transparent attempt to intimidate. But we will not be intimidated.”

In Portland, the protesters who demonstrate every night have set fires just outside a federal courthouse and torn down a protective fence. The federal agents have repeatedly used tear gas to drive the crowds away from the building and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler was tear-gassed Wednesday night as he stood in solidarity with the protesters.

Oregon’s general attorney general is seeking a court order restraining the actions of federal agents in the city during the demonstrations, which have occurred nightly since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis.

Oregon officials have said federal agents in unmarked cars wrongly detained Portland residents during the demonstrations.

Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo in Washington contributed to this report.