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Black Lives Matter, ACLU suggest sanctions against SPD for violating court order

Police officers attend an injured man detained during a protest after the Nov. 3 elections. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Black Lives Matter Seattle King-County and the ACLU submitted their suggestions for sanctions Friday, after a U.S. District Court judge found the Seattle Police Department in contempt of a preliminary injunction that had sought to limit its use of crowd control weapons.

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Judge Richard Jones had asked BLMSKC and the ACLU to provide suggested sanctions for SPD’s violations of the injunction, which limits the use of pepper spray, pepper balls, blast balls, tear gas, and more, excepting life-threatening situations for officers. Over the summer, activists asked that he find SPD in contempt of that order, citing several instances of alleged misuse of pepper spray, pepper balls, and blast balls.

In total, the city was found in violation of this injunction in four separate incidents involving the use of blast balls and pepper spray, while Jones ruled SPD in compliance in another four incidents. A handful of other incidents were categorized as “inconclusive.”

As restitution for these violations, plaintiffs asked that Jones require SPD to distribute the text of the injunction to all officers within two weeks, paired with “clear instructions about what conduct is prohibited.”

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They also asked that SPD deliver a use-of-force report to the court within five days of deploying any crowd control weapons while the injunction is in place. That would include the identity of the officer who use the weapons, the date the incident occurred, details on the weapons that were used and why, and body-worn camera footage of any such incidents.

The goal was to suggest sanctions that would be “narrowly tailored and strike a balance between providing sufficient information to effective monitor compliance without unduly burdening the City.”

The City of Seattle will be allowed to file a response to these suggested sanctions by Dec. 18.

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