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Seattle police to remove concrete barriers around precinct that was temporarily vacated during George Floyd protests

The Seattle Police Department has announced plans to remove concrete barriers around the East Precinct, the center of the city’s Capitol Hill Occupation Protest (CHOP) area last summer.

The concrete barrier will be removed and temporarily replaced with a fence, according to a press release from Seattle Police. Broken windows are being replaced and will be covered temporarily with plywood, police said.

“The SPD is taking these steps to reduce obstacles between officers and the people we serve,” the police press release said. “It is the Department’s hope the plywood on the windows and the temporary fence can also soon be removed.”

Police said the timing of the fence’s removal depends on whether the precinct becomes a target again for property damage and arson.

The precinct became a flashpoint for the protests that broke out last summer after the death of George Floyd, a Black man, in police custody. Organized rallies stretched across the country, and in Seattle the East Precinct became part of CHOP, an area spanning roughly four blocks where thousands of protesters camped out in defiance.

Seattle’s demonstrations over the summer included protesters throwing large rocks, bottles, fireworks and other explosives at officers, while police tried to disperse crowds with tear gas and pepper balls.

Police left the precinct on June 8 and returned to the protest area July 1, arresting at least 31 people after an emergency order by Mayor Jenny Durkan.

During protests later that month, an explosive was thrown into the precinct. In August, a fire was set in the building for which a 19-year-old man from Alaska was charged.

“It is the Department’s hope to fully re-open the East Precinct to our neighbors as soon as possible,” police said.

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