The emergency response time to violent crimes in Seattle has tripled since protesters have usurped a police precinct and the surrounding blocks in a downtown area, according to the state’s GOP Chairman Caleb Heimlich.
Hundreds of protesters have taken over six city blocks, creating an “autonomous zone,” where they have chased reporters out and attacked police officers after the Seattle Police Department retreated from the East Precinct.
Mr. Heimlich said the response time for crimes such as rape and murder has jumped to 18 minutes from about five minutes prior to the protesters taking over the area.
“This is not just a block party. This is an occupation,” he told Fox News on Friday. “They have closed down a police precinct.”
“You don’t get to occupy something, demand it, and the city government give in and give it to you,” Mr. Heimlich added.
Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best noted earlier this week the response time has tripled.
“Leaving the precinct was not my decision,” she said.
Mr. Heimlich suggested Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan made the call for the police to retreat instead of defending its precinct.
Ms. Durkan recently told CNN she was not sure how long the city blocks would be occupied by the protesters.
“We could have the summer of love,” she said, though she noted law enforcement has been patrolling the area. “We don’t have to sacrifice public safety for First Amendment rights.”
Videos on social media, though, show the protesters acting aggressively, and local reports note some individuals are patrolling the area with guns. The protesters’ blockade is in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.
Ms. Durkan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
President Trump has suggested the military needs to go in to stop the “anarchists,” but Ms. Durkan has pushed back against that suggestion.