Seattle City Council bans police use of chokeholds, crowd control devices amid protestscloseVideo
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The Seattle City Council on Monday voted unanimously to ban police from using chokeholds, and crowd-control devices like tear gas and pepper spray amid protests against police brutality.
The voting comes after the Seattle Police Department used tear gas to disperse mostly peaceful demonstrators protesting racism and police brutality in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died last month in the custody of a white police officer.
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Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Chief Carmen Best had promised earlier not to use such tactics.
The council heard repeated complaints from residents forced out of their homes by the gas even though they weren't protesting; one resident said his wife doused their child's eyes with breast milk.
Council member Kshama Sawant, who sponsored the legislation, said the police department had demonstrated it could not be trusted with the weapons.
“Many of us have witnessed it; many of us have experienced it,” Sawant said. “They falsely claimed that the protesters were violent rioters and that they had no alternative. … 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.”
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A federal judge on Friday issued a temporary order banning Seattle police from using tear gas, pepper spray, and foam-tipped projectiles against protesters. The court found that the department had used less-lethal weapons “disproportionately and without provocation,” stifling free speech.
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The council’s measure prevents Seattle police from owning, renting, storing or using such weapons, including chemical irritants, water cannons, acoustic devices or other weapons that can cause pain or discomfort on multiple people.
The council also voted to bar officers from covering up their badge numbers with mourning badges.
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Following national outcry over the death of Floyd, demonstrators took over several city blocks in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and declared it an autonomous zone dubbed the “Capitol Hill Organized Protest.” The area includes the Seattle police’s East Precinct, a building that protesters now occupy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.