Federal judge blocks Seattle city council's ban on crowd control measures

Like Portland, Seattle is experiencing a particularly harsh Summer of Love. Protests and riots are a regular, if not nightly, occurrence. The Seattle City Council voted into law a prohibition against police use of tear gas, blast balls, and similar weapons as crowd control measures during violent protests. The vote was taken last month and passed unanimously. The new law was to go into effect Sunday.


U.S. District Judge James Robart granted a request from the federal government to block the law late Friday during an emergency hearing. This ruling is a particularly timely one since this weekend is expected to be explosive because of federal agents being in the area. The judge’s restraining order is, however, “very temporary”.

The U.S. Department of Justice, citing Seattle’s longstanding police consent decree, 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.

Robart said the issue needed more discussion between the city and the Justice Department before the change went into effect. Ruling from the bench, just before 9 p.m. Friday night, Robart said the temporary restraining order he granted would be “very temporary.”

“I urge you all to use it as an occasion to try to find out where it is we are and where it is we’re going,” Robart said. “I can’t tell you today if blast balls are a good idea or a bad idea, but I know that sometime a long time ago I approved them.”

So, the judge isn’t arguing for or against the use of such tools as blast balls, just doing some mediation that would bring both sides together to work on a solution. The reasoning is that the options left to law enforcement if the crowd control weapons were banned are much more deadly and not practical for the job. Would the City Council prefer that law enforcement just start shooting people instead of a blast of tear gas?

Christina Fogg, an Assistant U.S. Attorney, argued that without blast balls, pepper spray and other weapons banned by the Council, police would have only “batons, tasers and handguns.”

“They only have these limited options which are not good options for crowd management,” Fogg said. “We are setting up a situation where there is a very increased likelihood of excessive force being used.”


Earlier in the week, Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best tried to block the new law. Judge Robart ruled against their attempt. He didn’t like the legal approach taken by the city and said it had “not attempted to meet the burden necessary to issue an injunction.” David Perez, attorney for Seattle’s Community Police Commission, argued on behalf of the City Council. He essentially argued that the Trump administration and the DOJ condone “excessive force”.

“I don’t believe, your honor, that the DOJ’s motivation here is to protect the consent decree and that’s really important,” he said. “The DOJ has operated over the last three years to dilute the consent decree.”

Perez said the Department had set up a “false choice” between guns and batons on one hand and pepper spray and blast balls on the other. He said they never objected when Seattle police were widely criticized for using excessive force to quell protests last month.

“Right now you hear the DOJ talking about the possibility of excessive force,” he said. “Where was their concern when that excessive force was being shown day in and day out…It was like a video game, your honor, they made Capitol Hill look like Mosul or Baghdad.”

Frankly, Mayor Durkan sounds like she wants it both ways – she threatens legal action if the president sends in federal agents, and then she asks that they be able to use all the tools in their toolbox for crowd control if they do come into the city. No wonder Seattle is a mess. She can’t straddle this fence. She should be on the side of the law enforcement officers in the city, not the Marxist agitators who want to tear everything down, especially law and order. Thursday night she threatened legal action if the federal agents sent into Seattle to protect federal property ahead of this weekend’s planned protests “intervene”.


“Should federal forces intervene like they have in Portland, we are prepared to pursue every legal recourse,” Durkan said. “A federal judge in Portland has entered an order limiting the actions of federal forces there. We are prepared to seek the same relief if necessary.”

On Monday she joined other Democrat mayors in demanding that DHS “immediately halt their unacceptable practice of sending federal forces into major cities.” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Kansas City (Missouri) Mayor Quinton Lucas and Portland (Oregon) Mayor Ted Wheeler were the others who signed on to the letter sent to DOJ and Acting Director of DHS Wolf. Those mayors are not exactly shining examples of leaders of cities under control.

Mayor Jenny and the Governor of Washington, a failed presidential candidate and run-of-the-mill woke leftist, both blast President Trump for expecting law and order in the country’s major cities.


It’s just the kind of division MSNBC loves to promote. Mayor Jenny has to make up her mind. Does she go with the violent Marxists or does she protect the law-abiding taxpayers and business owners in Seattle? Does she hate Trump more than she is capable of fulfilling her job description?

Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on HotAir Videos