Federal judge orders Seattle police to halt use of tear gas, pepper spray on protesters

Federal judge orders Seattle police to halt use of tear gas, pepper spray on protesters

A federal judge in Seattle has ordered local police to stop using tear gas, pepper spray and other force against nonviolent protesters, finding that the Seattle Police Department used excessive force against demonstrators.

The Seattle Times reports U.S. District Judge Richard Jones concluded that protesters' right to free speech had been violated by the police department, citing video and other evidence. 

The temporary restraining order issued by Jones also prevents the police from using flash bangs, pepper balls and rubber bullets.

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According to the Seattle Times, Jones said in his ruling that the "city and nation are at a crisis level" over "generational claims of racism and police brutality." He wrote that protesters need the protection of the federal court.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington had sued Seattle-King County and several individuals on behalf of Black Lives Matter, as protests in the city have been violent. Police officers have been seen using tear gas and flash grenades at protests in the city, with numerous videos of police confrontations with protesters gaining national attention. 

Last week, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) announced that police in the city are banned from using tear gas for the next 30 days. Police, however, continued to use the chemical in protests last weekend.

The use of tear gas against protesters has drawn broad criticism nationwide as well, and recent reports suggest the chemical is particularly threatening in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.