SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle city workers have built a wall of concrete blocks around the police department’s East Precinct following a suspected arson fire at the building earlier this week while officers were inside the building.
The barrier wraps around the precinct in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, The Seattle Times reported.
That’s where amid confrontations this spring, police temporarily abandoned the precinct, while demonstrators set up the Capitol Hill Organized Protest or “CHOP” zone before the city cleared it in early July.
A city statement said Friday that officers will continue to be stationed in the precinct and respond to emergency calls.
The federal government this week charged a 19-year-old Alaska man, Desmond David-Pitts, with arson. He’s accused of setting trash bags on fire Monday night in the sally-port, where police cars exit a secure steel door.
David-Pitts participated in protests against police brutality in Alaska this year after his 16-year-old brother was killed by Anchorage police, according to local news reports.
Mike Solan, president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, called Monday’s fire an “act of domestic terrorism.”
City departments will take other steps to protect the East Precinct so it’s more like the newer West Precinct, Mayor Jenny Durkan’s staff said in a statement Friday. The city will equip it with additional fire extinguishers and secure exposed windows, staff said.
Tens of thousands of people have demonstrated in Seattle streets, as in many U.S. cities, to protest the killing of Black people by law enforcement after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.
Some protesters have damaged buildings and fireworks targeted at police. Police on Capitol Hill on several occasions sprayed tear gas and shot stun grenades toward protest crowds, in one case apparently causing a young woman to go into cardiac arrest.
The triple-stacked wall erected Friday is in addition to a shorter barrier, and a chain-link fence, previously set next to the police station.