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Seattle police pledge to protect occupied zone

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle’s police chief says officers will go into the several-block area being occupied by protesters if there are threats to public safety.

Police pulled back from a part of the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood after recent clashes with protesters occurred.

A festival-like atmosphere has emerged in the area, now called the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest,” with participants painting a Black Lives Matter mural on the street and planting a community garden.

Police Chief Carmen Best spoke after a business owner near the protest area complained that police didn’t respond when he called 911 to report a break-in and vandalism.

“There is no cop-free zone in the city of Seattle,” Best said Monday.

Best said officers have written multiple police reports for crimes reported in that area in the past 48 hours. She said dispatchers and officers are coordinating with crime victims or callers to meet police on the edges of the CHOP boundaries. She added that officers will go in if there’s an urgent situation.