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Seattle protests, tear gas, lawsuit
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Expedited trial date set for ACLU lawsuit over SPD’s use of crowd control weapons

Police clashing with protesters on Capitol Hill. (Getty Images)

An August 26 trial date has now been set for a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County against the City of Seattle and the Seattle Police Department.

Why Seattle police are still allowed to use pepper spray, tear gas

The lawsuit alleges SPD 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 during recent protests. A motion from the ACLU and BLM Seattle-King County also asked U.S. District Judge Richard Jones to find the city in contempt for violating a court injunction restricting the use of crowd control weapons save for specific, imminent threats of physical harm.

The ACLU and BLM claim officers violated that order, hitting many peaceful protesters with blast balls, pepper spray, and blunt force objects when police indiscriminately used those weapons against the crowd.

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes argued earlier this week that the evidence does not show that officers intentionally targeted any peaceful protesters, medical, press, or legal observers, let alone retaliated intentionally. Additionally, even if one officer violated the order, they cannot all be held in contempt, Holmes noted.

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

SPD’s lawyers had asked the court to delay hearings for 60 days, a request that was denied on Friday. The hope from Judge Jones is to expedite the trial process while protests are ongoing. Jones also denied a request from the ACLU for footage from almost 1,400 police body-worn cameras.

The trial will span five days between August 26 and September 1.

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