Earlier, Seattle’s police chief said her officers would have “NO ability to safely intercede to preserve property in the midst of a large, violent crowd.”
By World Israel News Staff and AP
Seattle police declared a riot Saturday following large demonstrations in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood and deployed flash bangs and pepper spray to try to clear an area near where weeks earlier people had set up an “occupied protest zone” that stretched for several blocks.
The rioters may not have expected the police to use such methods after Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best had announced to local businesses on Friday that the police would not intervene if there were riots after the city council passed new regulations banning anti-riot measures typically used by police.
Best said in a letter to businesses, “Please also know that the City Council Ordinance 119805 Crowd Control Tool goes into effect this weekend on Sunday, July 26, 2020. This ordinance bans Seattle Police officers the use of less lethal tools, including pepper spray that is commonly used to disperse crowds that have turned violent.”
As a result, Best said her officers would have “NO ability to safely intercede to preserve property in the midst of a large, violent crowd.”
However, at an emergency hearing on Friday night, U.S. District Judge James Robart granted a request from the federal government to block Seattle’s new law prohibiting police from using pepper spray, blast balls and similar weapons.
The U.S. Department of Justice successfully argued that banning the use of crowd control weapons could actually lead to more police use of force, leaving them only with more deadly weapons.
After the decision, Best told protesters, “In the spirit of offering trust and full transparency, I want to advise you that SPD officers will be carrying pepper spray and blast balls today, as would be typical for events that carry potential to include violence.”
Best had warned against Thursday’s decision to strip police of less-lethal measures.
“It is a fact that there are groups and individuals who are intent on destruction in our City,” she said.
She warned that Seattle will “continue to experience property destruction, arson, looting, and attempts to injure additional officers throughout the weekend and beyond.”