Donald Trump spent his 74th birthday on Sunday in seclusion at his New Jersey golf club, breaking cover late in the afternoon, shortly before his return to the White House, to claim the “radical left” had “taken over” Seattle.
Protesters in the northwestern city took over part of the Capitol Hill neighborhood after police abandoned their east precinct following dangerous clashes amid demonstrations over police brutality and systemic racism.
Amid attempts by Trump and allies to portray protests across the US as dominated by dangerous leftwing groups, the protesters’ “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” has become a magnet for rightwing ire.
“Does anyone notice how little the Radical Left takeover of Seattle is being discussed in the Fake News Media,” the president wrote on Twitter. “That is very much on purpose because they know how badly this weakness & ineptitude play politically. The Mayor & Governor should be ashamed of themselves. Easily fixed!”
He added: “Interesting how Antifa and other Far Left militant groups can take over a city without barely a wimpier [sic] from soft Do Nothing Democrat leadership, yet these same weak leaders become RADICAL when it comes to shutting down a state or city and its hard working, tax paying citizens!”
Earlier on Sunday, contrary to Trump’s criticism about a lack of media coverage, Seattle police chief Carmen Best appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation, one of the highest-rated Washington discussion programs on television.
Best described her department’s approach to the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or Chaz, as a “methodical” and “practical” attempt to reach a resolution where everyone gets out safely.
“We don’t want anyone there to be harmed,” Best said. “We don’t want this to be something that devolves into a force situation. So we’re really trying to take a methodical, practical approach to reach a resolution where everyone gets out of here safely.”
Asked for her perspective on the protest movement that has spread across the US in the three weeks since George Floyd’s killing by police in Minneapolis, Best acknowledged that change would be “incredibly difficult” but said an opportunity existed to “bring people together and get positive change”.
“I was at the Black Lives Matter march, and I saw many people carrying signs about defunding the police, ending police brutality and looking at resolving the qualified immunity issue,” Best said.
“So I know standing there watching and listening that we’re going to change in policing. We have to. It has to be a movement that involves everybody. And we need to reimagine and re-figure out, if you will, how we’re going to move forward as a country and as an organization to make things better for everybody.”