A tactical team of border agents deployed to Seattle last week to help protect federal property has departed the city, officials said Tuesday.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said the Department of Homeland Security informed her of the move. The Special Response Team was sent to the city last week as the Trump administration continues to defend the intervention of the federal government as an effort to restore law and order amid ongoing protests in several cities.
“@DHSgov notified me that federal forces deployed to Seattle have demobilized & left,” Durkan tweeted. “The President’s actions to target Democratic cities with federal forces is chilling and increased violence in Portland, Seattle & other cities – exactly what the President intended.
In a follow-up tweet, Durkan said policing decisions should be made by Police Chief Carmen Best, not President Trump. The agents were deployed to Seattle to protect federal property in the wake of unrest following weeks of demonstrations and the occupation of a so-called autonomous protest zone where police officers and other first responders were denied entry.
In his testimony to the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Attorney General Bill Barr claimed “violent rioters and anarchists” have hijacked legitimate protests, while specially mentioning the ongoing unrest in Portland, Ore., where clashes between Black Lives Matter protesters and authorities have occurred nightly.
Durkan, along with other big-city mayors, has denounced the presence of federal agents in her jurisdiction. Opponents argue the alleged heavy-handed tactics used by federal agents have only inflamed tensions between protesters and authorities.
The move, they said, was made without the consent or consultation of state and local officials.
“The President’s actions to target Democratic cities through the use of federal forces is chilling and increased violence in Portland, Seattle (and) other cities – exactly what the President wanted,” Durkan wrote in another tweet.
Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, also praised the withdrawal of federal forces.
“That means Washingtonians no longer have to worry about the White House’s aim to provoke confrontation and undermine peaceful protests,” he tweeted.
Over the weekend, a total of 80 Seattle police officers were injured, with one requiring hospitalization, according to the city and local reports. Other injuries included bruises, abrasions, burns and a torn meniscus, but many officers were able to return to work. Some rioters set fire to a portable trailer and threw an explosive device at a police precinct, while authorities used blast balls, sponge rounds and OC spray to disperse protesters.
Nearly 50 people were arrested.
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer and Stephen Sorace contributed to this report.