Mayor Jenny Durkan joked in a press conference Thursday that she and Seattle Police Department Chief Carmen Best "thought about having a Thelma and Louise moment" but it's not going to happen. Neither is their resignation.
That's about all the useful news that came out of Durkan and Best's press conference. If anything it raised more questions.
Durkan and Best were supposed to talk about Seattle's East Precinct, the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (which is at and around the East Precinct), and Donald Trump's tweets where he said he'd send the military into Seattle if we didn't cut the CHAZ shit out. Durkan spoke vaguely about both the interesting things and elaborated a lot about how she wouldn't let Trump send the military into Seattle, which no one with half a brain was actually worried about.
As far as CHAZ goes, according to the mayor's comments, she sees it as harmless and something akin to Capitol Hill Block Party so it will be allowed to last for now. But, contradicting that was Best's report that 911 response time has increased three times over the average (clocking in at 15 minutes) since SPD left the East Precinct. Plus, Durkan also indicated the SPD is trying to map out when it is best to move back into the precinct. Councilmember Kshama Sawant and some demonstrators want to turn the precinct into a community center for restorative justice.
Currently, some members of SPD have moved back inside the East Precinct.
Sorry, they’re in there. Just needed to look up. pic.twitter.com/MvAJJTyEOO— Chase Burns in the CHAZ (@chaseburnsy) June 11, 2020
Speaking of the East Precinct, neither Durkan nor Best would take responsibility for making the call for SPD to desert the East Precinct on Monday evening. A battalion of SPD officers and National Guardsmen in riot gear guarded the building against protesters for over a week with blockades, tear gas, blast balls, and more. Then, they were gone on Monday, and CHAZ was born. Best claimed in a video to SPD officers that this wasn't her decision. She reiterated that point in the press conference.
"We were asked to do an operational plan in case we needed to leave," Best said, not specifying who asked SPD to do this. She continued: "The decision was made. We're still evaluating about how that change came about but it didn't come from me." She said SPD was "trying to see where it came from." What??? Where else would it come from? The obvious answer is Durkan, who could make that call, but Durkan played dumb as well. It all, frankly, stinks.
Also it’s not like a light switch. Presumably it took several hours to leave, right? So what was going on then?
— David Kroman (@KromanDavid) June 11, 2020
More perplexing was when Best was asked about SPD's claims yesterday and Best's same claims in that aforementioned video about people in CHAZ extorting businesses, walking around with guns, and demanding to see residents' IDs. Best admitted that there hadn't actually been any reports of this happening and this was only based on stuff SPD had heard "anecdotally" through "media" and "social media." Um... Does SPD make a habit of reporting out unsubstantiated rumors?
It's all unhelpful and opaque. And it's complicated by the fact that Durkan's team prioritized questions from in-person reporters (there were only five allowed in the room) while the rest of the media on the line was only allocated two questions. One of my remaining questions is who would be Durkan's Brad Pitt character in this Thelma and Louise scenario? Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins?