Seattle City Council’s limits on police anti-protest gear can proceed, judge says: report

A Seattle City Council plan to take away tear gas, blast balls and other anti-protest gear from the city’s police may proceed, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge James Robart’s decision defeated an attempt by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and police Chief Carmen Best to stop the plan, scheduled to take effect Sunday, the Seattle Times reported.

The ruling follows a U.S. Justice Department determination that Seattle police had routinely used excessive force and displayed evidence of biased policing – assessments that prompted a police department overhaul, the newspaper reported.

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But Durkan and Best argued that the council’s new law, stripping the police of “crowd control” gear, could conflict with terms of a settlement deal reached by the city and the Justice Department regarding the police overhaul, according to the report.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, right, speaks to reporters at City Hall in Seattle, with police Chief Carmen Best at left. (Associated Press)

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, right, speaks to reporters at City Hall in Seattle, with police Chief Carmen Best at left. (Associated Press)

The council passed its plan unanimously June 15, after Seattle police faced criticism for allegedly using the gear against mostly peaceful protesters – just as the department was drawing closer to the end of federal oversight, the Times reported.

In his ruling, Robart noted that Durkan and Best failed to oppose other attempts to limit police use of crowd-control weapons.

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On Tuesday, Seattle police released bodycam footage showing rioters throwing objects at them last Sunday, resulting in injuries to at least 12 officers.

Robart, 72, a Seattle native, was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in 2004 by former President George W. Bush.

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