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Judge Orders Seattle To Pay $82K To Black Lives Matter For Legal Fees

Seattle, WA – A federal judge has ordered the City of Seattle to fork over nearly $82,000 to pay for attorney fees Black Lives Matter (BLM) racked up while pursuing contempt violations against the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) use of less-lethal munitions against rioters.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Jones issued an order last summer temporarily barring the SPD from using tear gas, pepper spray, foam-tipped projectiles, or any other less-lethal weapons against “peaceful protesters,” The Seattle Times reported.

“On some occasions the SPD has in fact used less-lethal weapons disproportionately and without provocation,” Jones ruled at the time of the temporary restraining order.

The federal judge said that instead of using less-lethal weapons against entire mobs of demonstrators, police should have made sure they only used them against those in the crowd who were looting or vandalizing property, The Seattle Times reported.

“SPD’s use of less-lethal, crowd control weapons have surely chilled speech,” Jones added, noting that some peaceful protesters probably stayed away from the demonstrations to avoid being subjected to tear gas and other crowd-control tools being deployed at the riot.

In December, Jones ruled that out of the 122 allegations of “unnecessary force” BLM cited, four instances violated the injunction he’d implemented, The Seattle Times reported.

Jones determined the remaining 118 cases pursued by BLM either involved an appropriate use of force by police, or lacked enough evidence to make a finding for either side.

“If the Court had more evidence, many of these ‘remaining uses’ may in fact be ‘clear violations,’ making the City’s contempt even more grave than previously thought,” the judge wrote in his order, according to The Seattle Times.

BLM Seattle-King County had asked the court to make the city pay nearly $264,000 in legal fees, and wanted the judge to make it a requirement for the SPD to give BLM a use-of-force report within days of every incident involving force against a protester, The Seattle Times reported.

Jones refused to implement those sanctions.

He also refused to reconsider his contempt finding against the city, despite its requests that he do so.

“We are pleased that the Court rejected the City’s misguided attempt to reverse the Court’s contempt finding, and that the Court issued sanctions against the City,” BLM lawyer David Perez told The Seattle Times. “Our goal is to ensure greater safety for protesters through compliance with the Court’s orders, and this decision will help in that regard.”

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin

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