The six-square-block area of downtown Seattle which police have abandoned and which has been taken over by far-left activists is being patrolled by people with guns who are checking identification of anyone wishing to enter the area, police said Wednesday, adding that the protesters are also extorting individuals and businesses by demanding a fee to be allowed to operate in the area.
"We have been hearing from community members that they have been subjected to barricades set up by the protesters, with some armed individuals running them as checkpoints into the neighborhood," Assistant Chief Deanna Nollette told reporters on Wednesday.
"While they have a constitutionally protected right to bear arms, and while Washington is an open carry state, there is no legal right for those arms to be used to intimidate community members," she added.
Seattle police encourage anyone in the area who is a victim of extortion to call 911.
Nollette added that what the activists are doing is illegal, but stressed that police are trying to "get a dialogue going" with hopes that things can end peacefully:
"In an effort to try to cooperate and collaborate, and move forward peacefully, we're trying to get a dialogue going so that we can figure out the way to resolve this without unduly impacting the citizens and businesses that are operating in that area."
Approximately 500 homes are inside the area that has been taken over.
➡️ Go Further: Follow Disrn's full coverage of the protests and riots here.