Seattle, WA – The Seattle City Council unanimously voted on Monday to ban police from deploying crowd control devices under any circumstance.
If approved and enacted by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, officers will no longer be able to possess or deploy blast balls, “foam-tipped projectiles,” flash-bang grenades or CS tear gas, regardless of the situation, the Seattle Patch reported.
Water cannons, various acoustic devices, and other weapons capable of causing discomfort or pain to a group of people are also included in the bill, Market Watch reported.
Under the proposed law, police would be banned from using OC pepper spray on crowds, but would be permitted to use the spray if they catch someone in the middle of committing a crime or if a suspect is “presenting an imminent danger to others,” as long as no bystanders are exposed when it is deployed, the Seattle Patch reported.
Councilmembers also unanimously agreed to bar Seattle police from using chokeholds, regardless of the situation.
Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said that the new law will take many less-lethal tools away from police, KING reported.
“It has been historically known through the evidence and other research that the use of CS gas, otherwise known as tear gas, can often be a less-lethal way of dispersing a crowd without having to go hands on, without using our riot batons. It has been determined to be less dangerous to do that,” Chief Best explained.
“That said, it has been very clear to us that people are not wanting us to use the CS,” she added.
Council President Lorena Gonzalez said that city leaders must also determine how to destroy the equipment the SPD already has, Market Watch reported.
Giving the equipment to another law enforcement agency to use is not an acceptable option, Gonzalez added.
Socialist Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who sponsored the bills, said that the measures are the “absolute bare minimum” actions the council could take as they work to defund the Seattle Police Department (SPD), according to the Seattle Patch.
Councilmember Lisa Herbold originally attempted to amend the bill by limiting the ban to crowd dispersal only, but the modification was shot down after Sawant and protesters denounced it.
“Passing legislation is not going to be enough, but yet it is crucially important for the movement to hold elected officials accountable,” Sawant told the Seattle Patch. “It is about not allowing police to have possession of these weapons, and that is related to the fact that we cannot trust them.”
Sawant said she was at a protest in the Capitol Hill area when police deployed flash-bangs and tear gas.
“They falsely claimed that the protesters were violent rioters and that they had no alternative,” she told the Seattle Patch. “They even attempted to maintain those lies in the face of videos showing the police were the source, and the sole source, of the violence.”
Multiple officers were injured during rioting in the Capitol Hill area after the mob threw rocks, bottles, and explosives at them, according to Seattle PD.
At about 7:30 p.m. demonstrators outside the East Precinct began moving barricades at 11th and Pine despite multiple requests from police to stop. Individuals began throwing rocks/bottles/and explosives at officers. Several officers injured due to improvised explosives. pic.twitter.com/cbW6hWhIvy
— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) June 7, 2020
Durkan later ordered officers to abandon the area, paving the way for the establishment of the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ).
CHAZ currently controls a six-block area surrounding the SPD’s East Precinct, which Durkan previously forced Chief Best to cede to the rioters.
Durkan called the occupation of her city a “patriotic” move by violent protesters angry about the death of 46-year-old George Floyd in the custody of the Minneapolis police on May 25.
Protesters in the CHAZ have submitted a list of demands to the city that they believe will help to promote economic equity for the city’s black residents living in the Central District.
The city has already agreed to turn over former Seattle Fire Station 6 to the community.