Protesters complain that use of tear gas and pepper spray impedes those with disabilities, increases transmission of COVID…
(Liberty Headlines) The far-left city of Seattle is known for many things, but its law-and-order authorities are not one of them. During past clashes between radical groups like Antifa and right-wing counter-protesters, the city’s police department has been notably absent, if anything.
But that didn’t stop Black Lives Matter from seeking damages—in a suit that is a safe bet to be settled out of court for whopping amounts by the city that Microsoft founder Bill Gates calls home.
In essence, the lawsuit may offer defacto back-door reparations as Democrats in Congress try, yet again, to push the long rejected idea.
The sympathetic sanctuary-city suit could also add a new component to the activists’ broader legal effort to hamstring police from using normal crowd-suppression procedures even as the protesters themselves are being trained in violent resistance techniques and encouraged to rush the police lines.
“These daily demonstrations are fueled by people from all over the city who demand that police stop using excessive force against Black people, and they demand that Seattle dismantle its racist systems of oppression,” Livio De La Cruz, board member of Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County, said in a written statement.
“It is unacceptable that the Seattle Police Department would then respond to these demonstrations with more excessive force, including using tear gas and flashbang grenades,” said the statement.
The group sued the Seattle Police Department Tuesday to halt the violent tactics it claimed law-enforcement has used to break up largely peaceful protests in recent days.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, Korematsu Center at Seattle University School of Law and the far-left law firm Perkins Coie filed the complaint in U.S. District Court on behalf of Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best have apologized to peaceful protesters who were subjected to the so-called chemical weapons, an emerging talking point from the left as it tries to manipulate the semantics of the debate.
But even after they promised a 30-day ban on using CS gas, one type of tear gas, last Friday, officers used it again two nights later, saying unruly demonstrators were encroaching on their position.
Under pressure from city councilors, protesters and dozens of other far-left leaders who have demanded that officers dial back their tactics, the police department on Monday removed barricades near its East Precinct building in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, where protesters and riot squads had faced off nightly.
The lawsuit alleged that the use of chemical agents and less-lethal projectiles police violated the Fourth Amendment’s protections against excessive force as well as the First Amendment’s free speech protections. It also said the use of tear gas and pepper spray was especially reckless during a respiratory pandemic and could increase risks related to COVID-19.
“On an almost nightly basis, the SPD has indiscriminately used excessive force against protesters, legal observers, journalists, and medical personnel,” the lawsuit states.
The police department referred questions about the case to the Seattle City Attorney’s Office, which said only that it is reviewing it.
Among the five named plaintiffs in addition to the Black Lives Matter organization is Abie Ekenezar, an Army veteran who has asthma and a spinal injury, and who said she developed a daylong cough after being exposed to tear gas during a protest May 30. She wants to attend further protests, but uses a scooter to get around and fears her limited mobility places her especially at risk from tear gas, the complaint said.
Another is Sharon Sakamoto, a Japanese-American woman who survived internment as a child during World War II. Sakamoto, a retired attorney, was frightened off from participating in the protests after she learned police were using chemical irritants, it said.
The lawsuit seeks an order blocking the Seattle Police Department and other agencies that are supporting it from continuing to use the less-lethal and chemical weapons on the protesters.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press