MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Seattle council questions SPD’s use of tear gas, mace during weekend protests

Jun 1, 2020, 12:24 PM | Updated: 1:57 pm

Seattle protests, police...

Someone pours water onto a protesters face who has been exposed to tear gas in downtown Seattle. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Seattle councilmembers levied criticism against police officers at weekend protests downtown, citing reports of excessive force and inappropriately used dispersal tactics.

Sawant calls for investigation into SPD conduct at weekend protests

“I personally witnessed the unacceptable escalation of violence by the Seattle Police Department,” Councilmember Kshama Sawant said in Monday’s council briefing. “We have had hundreds, if not thousands of accounts from ordinary people of unacceptable conduct from the SPD.”

“Seattle police officers indiscriminately used tear gas, mace, flash bang grenades, and other types of excessive use of force on the peaceful protesters,” she added.

Officers in Seattle are required by law to provide advance a verbal command to disperse before each use of extreme dispersal tactics. They must also ensure that the order is heard by everyone in the area.

Reports from Saturday’s protest appear to indicate that no such warnings were issued to people in attendance.

“In my conversations with people after the event, people confirmed for me that they were not receiving advance notice or receiving orders to disperse, which are required under city law,” said Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who said she was in attendance at Saturday’s peaceful rally at Westlake.

“In that situation, where people were standing on the street not causing harm, not assaulting officers, not harming property, in those videos that we saw, there was no dispersal warning,” Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda described, citing “multiple reports that audible warnings were not given to a diverse crowd, including children, elderly, and people with disabilities.”

‘We all have a lot of work to do,’ says Seattle rally organizer

Those reports included footage of a small child who was allegedly maced by police, and video of an officer kneeling on the neck of a protester.

Councilmember Mosqueda compiled a number of other videos posted by protesters on social media where officers appeared to be using excessive force, and has already sent them to the city’s civilian-run Office of Police Accountability (OPA).

The OPA has not yet made any determinations, but plans to review video footage and interview eye-witnesses in the days ahead to get a full accounting of the weekend’s events.

“Suffice it to say there is a lot of video evidence that confirms our city has work to do as it relates to properly handling interactions with members of the community, particularly at times like this,” Herbold noted.

MyNorthwest News

Photo: Whatcom County homeless deaths are increasing, according to a report from the Opportunity Co...

KIRO Newsradio staff

Report: Whatcom County deaths of unhoused people on pace for record amount

More people are dying on the streets of Whatcom County. Opportunity Council said there have been 56 documented deaths this year.

11 hours ago

Photo: Pierce County deputies have reported an office-involved shooting....

Julia Dallas

Pierce County Sheriff’s Department reports officer-involved shooting

The Pierce County Sheriff's Department has reported a shooting involving an officer took place on Monday.

13 hours ago

Photo: King County deputies seized more than a dozen guns after making two arrests in May....

Julia Dallas

King County deputies make arrests; seize nearly 30 pounds of drugs, 18 firearms, flame thrower

King County deputies made two arrests leading to the seizure of more than 25 pounds of drugs and more than a dozen firearms.

13 hours ago

Photo: The Washington State Patrol is cracking down on people who cut in ferry lines....

James Lynch

Don’t be that person: State troopers fine ferry line cutters $145

Have you ever been frustrated by a driver who cut in line at a ferry terminal? Now the Washington State Patrol is cracking down.

15 hours ago

Photo: A deputy's body camera captured a runaway wallaby in Parkland....

Julia Dallas

Runaway wallaby hops out of arms reach of deputies in Parkland

 A wallaby was caught on camera running around Parkland Sunday morning. Pierce County deputies and WSP responded.

16 hours ago

seattle sex trafficking...

Frank Sumrall

Seattle resident arrested for sex trafficking in San José

A San José special operations unit arrested a Seattle resident last week on suspicion of alleged commercial sex trafficking.

20 hours ago

Seattle council questions SPD’s use of tear gas, mace during weekend protests