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Seattle protesters face off with police overnight on Capitol Hill

A woman sits in the street as police officers block a street in an area police cleared hours earlier Wednesday. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

With the CHOP area cleared and the East Precinct now back under police control, officers faced off with protesters on Capitol Hill overnight between Wednesday and Thursday.

A line of protesters gathered along Pine and Broadway, with police — adorned in riot gear and brandishing batons — forming a line blocking access to the East Precinct area. When police moved back into the area early Wednesday morning, they established a large “exclusion zone” to provide a buffer between demonstrators and what used to be the CHOP.

Tensions ran high throughout the night, as police issued several orders to disperse. SPD reported some individuals in the crowd were throwing bottles at officers. Police deployed pepper spray and blast balls in response.

In total, 25 arrests were made Wednesday night for failure to disperse, assault, and obstruction.

With an executive order from Mayor Jenny Durkan still in effect, police say they will continue to make arrests “to ensure safety in the area.”

A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order in mid-June against the use of any crowd control weapons by police against anyone “peacefully engaging in protests or demonstrations.” Exceptions were built into the order, though, allowing the use of pepper spray provided it’s “reasonable, proportional, and targeted action to protect against a specific imminent threat of physical harm … or to respond to specific acts of violence or destruction of property.”

Tear gas may also be used in extremely specific scenarios where “efforts to subdue a threat by using alternative crowd measures, including pepper spray … have been exhausted and ineffective,” or if SPD Chief Carmen Best determines it’s the only “reasonable alternative available.” Tear gas was not deployed Wednesday night by police.

A complete ban on crowd control weapons passed by city council was returned unsigned by Mayor Jenny Durkan last Friday, and goes into effect in late July.

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