Flash bangs, pepper spray used to disperse protesters in Seattle

Flash bangs, pepper spray used to disperse protesters in Seattle
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Seattle police used flash bang devices and pepper spray to disperse protesters on Saturday, the ninth consecutive day of protests over George Floyd’s death in police custody.

The Seattle Police Department said in an early Sunday statement that officers reacted with blast balls and pepper spray after protesters began pushing against the barriers and throwing bottles, rocks and incendiary devices at officers. 

“The group refused to back up and officers deployed pepper spray and blast balls in an attempt to push the crowd back,” the statement read. “The protesters moved back a block and officers were able to reset the barriers.”

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Several officers were injured in the confrontation with two being taken to Harborview Medical Center for treatment. A Saturday night tweet said several officers were injured because of “improvised explosives.”

The department said it did not use CS tear gas during the situation, as Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) and Police Chief Carmen Best instituted a 30-day ban on the gas after complaints from demonstrators and public officials. The mayor and police chief said external groups would update the department’s crowd-control policies and deadly force techniques.

A separate large peaceful protest also took place Saturday with thousands of doctors, nurses and others marching from Harborview Medical Center to City Hall and demonstrating against racism and police brutality, The Associated Press reported

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Durkan has called for protesters to be tested for COVID-19 after the city and King County have expanded to allow asymptomatic people who attended large protests to take tests. 

“Over the last week, residents across Seattle have been gathering to build community and share their anger and frustration about the killing of George Floyd and injustices against black Americans, here in Seattle and across the country,” Durkan said in a statement. “While I believe everyone should exercise their right and speak out, we must also remember we’re in the middle of a pandemic.”

Protests have erupted across the country over police treatment of minority communities and Floyd’s death, which occurred after an officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes.  

Seattle lifted its curfew for the city last week, which was enacted when small groups participated in rioting and looting during the demonstrations.