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Seattle police, ACLU lawsuit, protests
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ACLU files lawsuit against City of Seattle over police violence at protests

Protesters shielding themselves from flashbangs. (Getty Images)

The ACLU filed a lawsuit Tuesday, alleging Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best and Mayor Jenny Durkan violated the constitutional rights of protesters by allowing officers to disperse crowds with tear gas, flash bangs, and more.

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Tensions were high over the weekend, after Mayor Durkan issued a 30-day pause on the use of tear gas, and police re-authorized its use on Sunday night to disperse crowds gathered on Capitol Hill.

Law enforcement have cited protesters throwing projectiles like bottles, rocks, and “incendiary devices” as the reason behind resorting to crowd control methods like tear gas in recent weeks.

Mayor Durkan and Chief Best have also defended actions by officers, blaming a small handful of instigators during otherwise peaceful protests. On Monday, Seattle Police union head Mike Solan spoke out as well, condemning “a small group of actors who don’t have our community in mind.”

“These are people who want to hurt and destroy police property … and our membership,” Solan claimed.

The ACLU’s lawsuit — filed on behalf of Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County and other individual plaintiffs — alleges that police have frequently violated the First Amendment rights of protesters through the use of “less lethal weapons to control and suppress demonstrations.”

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“This action seeks to uphold rights that are foundational to our democracy: the rights to peaceful assembly, petition for redress of grievances, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom from unwarranted seizures by the government,” David Perez, an attorney representing plaintiffs, said in a news release. “We will not waver in our commitment to defending those rights.”

The lawsuit asks for a temporarily and permanent halt on the use of “less lethal weapons” by police during protests, as well as an admission from the city that it violated the constitutional rights of demonstrators.

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