U.S President Donald Trump on Friday threatened to “end this Seattle takeover now,” escalating a row with local authorities over a police-free zone controlled by protesters in the city.
“The terrorists burn and pillage our cities, and they think it is just wonderful, even death. Must end this Seattle takeover now!” Trump tweeted.
It came a day after the president threatened federal action if the Seattle’s mayor and Washington’s state governor did not “Take back your city NOW.”
Governor Jay Inslee hit back that Trump should stay out of the north-western state’s business, and Seattle’s Mayor Jenny Durkan said an invasion of the city would be unconstitutional and illegal.
Seattle, like other US cities, has been gripped by protests against police brutality and racism since the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minnesota two weeks ago.
After days of clashes with authorities, demonstrators set up an “autonomous zone” in the city when police vacated a precinct earlier this week.
The makeshift encampment, sectioned off by barricades and spanning several city blocks, has been dubbed Chaz, an abbreviation of Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, the Seattle Times reported.
Hundreds of people have been gathering to demonstrate and hear speeches in the largely peaceful police-free zone, amid calls around the country to “defund” police departments.
Trump on Thursday dismissed such calls, saying he wanted instead to strengthen police forces. He outlined proposals for police reforms, including improved training and national guidelines on the use of force.