“We have heard, anecdotally, reports of citizens and businesses being asked to pay a fee to operate within this area. This is the crime of extortion. If anyone has been subjected to this, we need them to call 911,” Assistant Chief Deanna Nollette said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Police abandoned several city blocks, including a police precinct, in an upscale section of Seattle on Monday after protesters turned violent. Protesters declared it a "cop-free zone" and have now released a list of demands that includes free college, rent control and police reform.
Seattle business owner James Snyder, who runs Sam's Tavern located in the autonomous zone, told FOX Business the restaurant is closed and he's unsure what reopening would look like. No one has tried to extort his business, he said.
"I don’t know how it’s going to work. We’re going to have to see where this goes from here," Snyder said. "If it’s remaining peaceful and it’s sending a strong message to create some change, then I’m all for it."
He and his family passed out water bottles during protests in the area Sunday, and he may do that again in the newly declared autonomous zone, Snyder said.
President Trump criticized Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, both Democrats, on Twitter on Thursday.
"Radical Left Governor Jay Inslee and the Mayor of Seattle are being taunted and played at a level that our great Country has never seen before," Trump wrote. "Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will. This is not a game. These ugly Anarchists must be stopped IMMEDIATELY. MOVE FAST!"