Breaking: Fed Judge Stops Ban of Seattle Police "Tools," After Exasperated Chief Tells Citizens Her Officers Can't Protect Them

AP Photo/Aron Ranen
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Seattle police stand on a road in the Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone early Wednesday, July 1, 2020. Police in Seattle have torn down demonstrators’ tents in the city’s so-called occupied protest zone after the mayor ordered it cleared. (AP Photo/Aron Ranen)


July 1st.

You may be shocked to realize the Seattle CHOP/CHAZ zone – that dreamy, patchouli-scented paradise of organic gardens and random murder – was only dismantled about 26 days ago. But things are still as volatile as ever in the city, considering the events of the past 24 hours.

I’ll lay them out for you, as best I can.

If you spent any time online Friday night,  perusing Political Twitter, you may have come across a copy of this letter. It’s from Seattle’s police chief, Carmen Best, to the citizen of her city. And what she wrote was truly frightening, to say the least.

Chief Best wrote, in part:

Dear Business Owner and/or Resident:

Please know that the Seattle Police Department is committed to addressing life safety incidents and calls for service, and responding to ongoing demonstrations and unrest in the city.

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. Simply put, the legislation gives officers NO ability to safely intercede to preserve property in the midst of a large, violent crowd.

It is important to bring to your attention that yesterday, I sent the City Council a letter assuring them that as the Chief of Police, I have done my due diligence of informing them numerous times of the foreseeable impact of this ordinance on upcoming events.


For these reasons, Seattle Police will have an adjusted deployment in response to any demonstrations this weekend. [emphasis original]



In a part I clipped out, the chief uses the phrase “attached for your reference,” which refers to the letter she sent July 23 to Lorena Gonzalez and Lisa Herbold, the president and  public safety chair, respectively, and addressed to all council members, according to the My Northwest publication. You can see some of the wording mirrors the citizen letter almost exactly.

It read, in part:

Dear President González, Chairwoman Herbold, and Seattle City Council Members:

SPD has confirmed with the City Attorney’s Office that the City Council ordinance banning the use of less lethal tools – including pepper spray – commonly used to disperse crowds that have turned violent, will go into effect this weekend as written.

I am sending this notification for the purpose of ensuring I have done my due diligence of informing Council of the foreseeable impact of this ordinance on upcoming events.

It is a fact that there are groups and individuals who are intent on destruction in our City. Yes, we also have seen weeks of peaceful demonstrations, but two recent events (Sunday, July 19th and Wednesday, July 22nd) have included wide-scale property destruction and attacks on officers, injuring more than a dozen, some significantly.


With this Council ordinance, we hear loudly and clearly that the use of these less-lethal tools by SPD officers to disperse crowds that have turned violent have been completely banned by City Council.


We have clear, court-mandated procedures for arresting individuals, grounded in the principles of deescalation. SPD’s de-escalation principles are premised on the expectation, consistent with policy and best practices, that officers have the full array of approved tools. In large crowds, there is no safe way for officers to effect arrests when their colleagues do not have the tools necessary to protect them.

As City Council’s legislation goes into effect, it will create even more dangerous circumstances for our officers to intervene using what they have left – riot shields and riot batons.

For these reasons, SPD will have an adjusted deployment in response to any demonstrations this weekend. The Council legislation gives officers no ability to safely intercede to preserve property in the midst of a large, violent crowd. Allowing this behavior deeply troubles me, but I am duty-bound to follow the Council legislation once it is in effect. If the Council is prepared to suggest a different response or interpretation of the legislation, I stand ready to receive it.


We continue to assess the impact of the prohibition on the procurement, ownership, and use of these tools on SWAT operations.

I believe Council can lead on de-escalation at each of these events through their voice and presence encouraging peaceful demonstrations. It remains my deep hope that once OPA and the OIG have had the opportunity to complete the analysis tasked to them, Council will engage productively with SPD and
its accountability partners to forge a meaningful path forward that provides for public safety in these unprecedented times.


Carmen Best

Chief of Police
Seattle Police Department


Also on Friday night, my colleague Shipwreckedcrew asked this question: “Are Seattle Antifa/BLM Jealous of Portland’s Attention? Concrete Walls Going Up In Advance of Protests.” Read the whole thing for the latest, legal wranglings with feds entering the city.

That brings us up to the present hour.

Just hours after Chief Best alerted the citizens and business owners of her city of the dangers they – and her officers – were facing, after an emergency hearing held at 8 p.m. local time, a federal judge has issued a decision that’s turned everything on its head — at least temporarily, the Seattle Times reports.

KIRO has the breaking news:

A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order, blocking an ordinance that would ban the use of tear gas, pepper spray and other tools used by Seattle police to disperse a crowd.

The decision comes after a hearing was held at 8 p.m. Friday, with the U.S. Department of Justice seeking to stop the ban on tear gas, arguing it likely violates the consent decree the Seattle Police Department is under.

It also comes as police Chief Carmen Best put a directive in place ahead of the Seattle City Council’s ban that would go into effect Sunday.

But, as KIRO notes later in the piece, “all that changes now”:


However, all that changes now with the judge’s temporary restraining order in place, allowing police to continue the use of those tools, especially as more demonstrations are planned for the weekend.

When it seems we’re bombarded by a hail of bad news about legal decisions being handed down from federal judges, it’s heartening to get this burst of good news from the eye of the storm.

As this is a developing story, RedState will provide updates when they become available.


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