SEATTLE — A U.S. judge has ordered Seattle police to temporarily stop using tear gas, pepper spray and flash-bang devices to break up peaceful protests.
The two-week order Friday is a victory for groups who say authorities overreacted to recent demonstrations over police brutality and racial injustice.
A Black Lives Matter group sued the Seattle Police Department this week to halt the tactics it has used to break up largely peaceful protests in recent days.
The mayor and police chief have apologized.
But the police chief has said some demonstrators violently targeted police, throwing projectiles and ignoring orders to disperse.
The Executive Director of ACLU of Washington, Michelle Storms, released this statement after the order came down.
“We are pleased that the court is preventing Seattle from using chemical agents and less lethal weapons against demonstrators. The City must allow for freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, and it must address police accountability and excessive use of force. It is impossible to expect progress if the city continues to attempt to silence protestor demands with excessive force.”
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan's office issued this statement after the judge's decision.
"The Mayor also believes that accountability in policing is critical and welcomes the Court’s role in this action. This is in addition to the very important accountability provided by the independent civilian oversight of the Office Police Accountability (OPA) , Office of Inspector General (OIG), and the Community Police Commission (CPC).
On June 2, Mayor Durkan met with OPA and OIG to confirm the accountability partners were reviewing SPD’s actions and to ensure they had resources they needed to do so. In addition, Mayor Durkan requested a review of SPD’s Court approved crowd management policies.
Following the meeting, the Mayor sent a formal request to the Office of the Inspector General, and the Office of Police Accountability, Community Police Commission, the Federal Monitor, and Department of Justice to determine what innovative techniques, or combination of techniques, can provide a greater ability to de-escalate situations that occur with mass protests, so that the use of force can be greatly minimized and avoided.
Seattle can and should lead the way to make changes through our civilian accountability system. The City looks forward to receiving those recommendations from our accountability partners so that we can ensure these policies and practices are aligned with our values to protect peaceful protestors and public safety."