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Activist groups file claim that Seattle police should be held in contempt for pepper spray use in weekend protests

A federal judge in June restricted the use of crowd control against peaceful protesters. Seattle police declared Saturday's demonstration a riot.

SEATTLE — Activists who won a U.S. court order restricting the Seattle Police Department's use of chemical weapons for crowd control say the department should be held in contempt of court for violating it in a "vengeful outburst" over the weekend.

In June, U.S. District Judge Richard Jones forbid Seattle police from using chemical irritants or projectiles of any kind against people demonstrating peacefully. However, Jones allowed for exceptions.

But in a motion filed Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County and other groups said that on Saturday, the police department shot pepper spray and blast balls indiscriminately into a crowd after a small number of protesters engaged in property destruction. Seattle police had declared the demonstration a riot.

RELATED: At least 45 arrested after police declare riot at Seattle protests, several officers injured

Separately, the Seattle City Council had banned the use of pepper spray, tear gas and other crowd control measures, but a U.S. District Judge James L. Robart had temporarily blocked the city's ban last week.

The U.S. Department of Justice, which had filed the motion against the city, argued the ban would put the community at risk because officers wouldn't be able to deescalate situations. They also said that the city council's timing of the ban violates the city's consent decree. 

The temporary restraining order cleared the way for law enforcement to use crowd control measures over the weekend.

RELATED: Chief Best reacts after federal judge blocks Seattle ban on police crowd control measures

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