Seattle City Council approves ban on tear gas, police chokeholds

Jun 15, 2020, 4:47 PM | Updated: Jun 16, 2020, 8:59 am
Seattle protests, tear gas, lawsuit...
Police clashing with protesters on Capitol Hill. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Seattle City Council passed a trio of high-profile bills Monday, banning the use of tear gas, pepper spray, and other crowd control weapons by police, as well as the use of chokeholds to subdue suspects. The third bill approved premium hazard pay for gig workers during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

The ban on chokeholds was passed unanimously.

“This legislation is absolutely the least that the Seattle City Council can do,” Councilmember Kshama Sawant said. “Passing this legislation is absolutely important, but it will not be enough by itself. Chokeholds were banned in New York City when Eric Garner was killed and that was obviously insufficient to save him. Legislation like this is critical, especially because it shows the power of a grassroots movement overcoming an entrenched establishment for so many decades, but it needs to be paired with more structural changes in society.”

Sawant was the primary sponsor of Bill 119804. She says her office is also working on getting charges dropped against protesters who were arrested, and to defund the police by 50%.

The council also approved Councilmember Lisa Herbold’s amendment to Sawant’s bill: Notice of the chokehold prohibition to be given to the Department of Justice, the courts, and the monitor in accordance with the consent decree. They also approved an amendment outline that the council will engage with the labor relations department to carry out the ban on chokeholds.

Judge grants temporary restraining order against SPD for use of tear gas, projectiles

The city council also approved a bill to ban the Seattle Police Department’s ownership, purchase, rent, storage, or use of crowd control weapons — Bill 119805.

The bill’s sponsor, Sawant, released a statement about its significance. Read it here.

“The fact that those types of weapons are being used on our own residents is just abhorrent,” Councilmember Lorena González said. “I absolutely support this legislation and I look forward to submitting it to the court for review.”

Gonzalez said they still need to address the disposal of the current weapons.

The city council also unanimously passed Bill 119799 to mandate premium pay for gig workers in Seattle during the COVID-19 pandemic, sponsored by Councilmembers Lisa Herbold and Andrew Lewis.

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Seattle City Council approves ban on tear gas, police chokeholds