SEATTLE — Washington state and city leaders confirmed federal agents are on standby in Seattle to "protect federal buildings" ahead of planned protests this weekend.
Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best both said they do not want federal forces to intervene during planned weekend protests in Seattle.
During a press conference Friday morning, Best and Durkan said they did not request any federal assistance or personal to come into the city.
Durkan said she spoke with Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf Thursday and told her that DHS has no plans to intervene with ongoing protests in the city.
“[Wolf] told me directly that DHS has no plans, and sees no need, to send federal forces into Seattle,” Durkan said. “He stated clearly that Seattle is not Portland, and he sees that as differently. He committed to notifying Chief Best and myself should that change.”
However, Durkan said Friday that “contrary to Secretary Wolf’s stated commitment, neither myself nor Chief Best were updated regarding the presence of these federal agents” that were sent to the area “on standby to protect federal buildings if necessary.”
During Friday’s press conference, Durkan, Best and Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins urged anyone planning to protest this weekend to do so peacefully.
“Be peaceful,” Durkan said. “If you come out in the streets and raise your voices, not only is it your right, but in many ways, it’s our obligation, but for those who are bent on destruction, those who want the fight to come, I say to you stop.”
But Seattle Police Officers Guild President Mike Solan says he welcomes outside help.
"I want the Seattle police officers protected, and I'll take any type of help and support from law enforcement," Solan said. "It's mind-blowing to me that we're at this point."
A city council ordinance banning the police use of tear gas and pepper spray goes into effect this weekend.
Best also said she is concerned about the impact of that legislation.
"The council legislation gives officers no ability to safely intercede to preserve property in the midst of a large and violent crowd. Allowing this behavior deeply troubles me,” Best said.
Local and state leaders on Thursday confirmed — and condemned — the presence of the federal agents ahead of planned weekend protests.
Gov. Jay Inslee tweeted, "After a day of conflicting messages from the federal government, where they told my staff repeatedly that there was no surge of additional personnel to Seattle, it appears they are doing just that."
Durkan said she also received conflicting information this week from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
"I made clear to Acting Secretary Wolf that deployments in Seattle — like we have seen in Portland — would undermine public safety and break community trust," Durkan tweeted. "DHS now says they have a limited number of agents in the area on standby to protect federal buildings."
"Should federal forces intervene like they have in Portland, we are prepared to pursue every legal recourse," Durkan tweeted Thursday. "A federal judge in Portland has entered an order limiting the actions of federal forces there. We are prepared to seek the same relief if necessary."
King County Executive Dow Constantine said he received information that a federal government plane landed at Boeing Field Thursday night, and "more than a dozen personnel drove off to an unknown location."
Retired General and NBC News Analyst Barry McCaffrey spoke with KING 5 Thursday after hearing the report federal agents may be headed to Seattle.
"I think the president and Mr. Wolf are looking for provocative situations, I don't think there's any question this is a political stunt, not a federal law enforcement mission," McCaffrey said. "I think this is a deliberate attempt to have provocative instances in Portland, Seattle, maybe Philadelphia, maybe Chicago, it's a real outrage, I think at that end of the day."
The tense, ongoing standoff between U.S. government agents and protesters in Portland has extended into yet another day after the city’s mayor was tear-gassed outside a federal courthouse during a raucous demonstration Wednesday night.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and hundreds of others on objected to the presence of federal police sent by President Trump, who called the demonstrators agitators and anarchists.
Agents tear-gassed Wheeler as protesters lit a fire outside a courthouse Wednesday.