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16 Jun, 2020 04:09

Seattle bans police use of tear gas, pepper spray & chokeholds as anarchist crowd reigns over portion of city

Seattle bans police use of tear gas, pepper spray & chokeholds as anarchist crowd reigns over portion of city

Seattle City Council has voted to make it illegal for police to deploy tear gas, pepper spray and chokeholds on peaceful demonstrators, as part of the city is being overrun by activists declaring it an “autonomous zone.”

All nine members of the council voted to strip the city police of the authority to use a number of controversial crowd control means on Monday.

In a series of separate votes, the council banned the city from “owning, purchasing, renting, storing or using Crowd Control Weapons (CCWs),” which are defined as “kinetic impact projectiles, chemical irritants, acoustic weapons, water cannons” and other devices that can cause “pain or discomfort” when used to disperse a crowd.

Also on rt.com Seattle cops banned from using tear gas & stun grenades amid ‘anarchist takeover’ endorsed by mayor

Pepper spray falls under that category when used against demonstrators, but not when deployed against “an individual in the process of committing a criminal act or presenting an imminent danger to others.” However, in the latter case, police need to make sure that only the suspect will be gassed, and not other people around them.

The council also expressly forbade the use of chokeholds – a restraint method that has generated intense controversy after the death of unarmed black man George Floyd under the knee of an officer, preventing him from breathing.

The legislation comes in response to claims that police used tear gas on largely peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters to clear out a rally in Capitol Hill, a densely populated neighborhood in downtown Seattle, earlier this month. The move closely follows a decision by US District Judge Richard Jones on Friday, who temporarily blocked police from using pepper spray, tear gas, stun grenades and foam-tipped bullets against demonstrators.

While city legislators have been on a mission to rein in police powers, local authorities have effectively ceded control over a portion of the city – several blocks around the East Precinct police headquarters – to a patchy crowd consisting of anarchists, socialists and Black Lives Matter activists. The area has been renamed the ‘Capital Hill Autonomous Zone,’ or CHAZ, and has seen activists trying to replace police with their own style of enforcing order – which has been criticized as chaotic and hands-off.

The community’s de facto mastermind – the so-called “warlord” of CHAZ, rapper Raz Simone – was spotted handing out semi-automatic AR-15 rifles to strangers, some of whom looked younger than 21 (which would make such a transfer illegal under Washington state law). 

Also on rt.com Now CHAZ has guns: Seattle autonomous zone ‘warlord’ filmed handing out AR-15s to followers

CHAZ’s “leadership” has also been accused of assaulting journalists, and a video has circulated showing them mirroring the methods of their worst enemy – the police – where they can be seen placing a Christian preacher in a chokehold.

While some fear that the anarchy – which is apparently being condoned by Seattle’s Democratic Mayor Jenny Durkan – will spread further, there have been concerns that the city could plunge further into lawlessness with the new restrictions on police.

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