A 19 page lawsuit against the City of Seattle by Jessica Benton, Shelby Bryant, AnneMarie Cavanaugh, Alyssa Garrison, and Clare Thomas alleged that due to the actions of the Seattle Police Department, they can’t afford the gear needed to “protest” (riot). They claim their First Amendment rights are thereby harmed. Well, dang. Riot gear is expensive.
“War munitions” Seriously. Less Lethal riot control items are being labeled as “war munitions.” So these folks want riot gear against war munitions like less lethal riot control items.
“Because the Seattle Police Department has acted above and outside the law in dispensing its unbridled force, and the City has failed to prevent same, the government effect is to establish a de facto protest tax. Individual protesters subjected to SPD’s unabated and indiscriminate violence now must purchase cost-prohibitive gear to withstand munitions – even when peacefully protesting – as a condition to exercising their right to free speech and peaceable assembly.” Excerpt from the lawsuit.
“We started hearing stories about folks who were spending $400 to $500 on gear to try to be able to protest the streets.” Attorney Talitha Hazelton (KUOW )
The City of Seattle passed an ordinance banning the use of any less-lethal riot control items that was to go into effect on July 26. It banned flash-bangs, blast balls and tear gas in any instance, but allowed the use of pepper spray in certain situations, if no one but the intended target is hit. (So if the wind is blowing, no pepper spray could be used.)
On July 24, Federal judge James Robart issued an injunction against that ordinance, and the DOJ issued a challenge to the ordinance saying that it violated a Federal oversight agreement from 2012. The judge agreed with the DOJ that banning less-lethal items on top of an imminent riot would not increase public safety. (Patch.com) The injunction was set to expire in two weeks.
Even with the injunction, Seattle police are only allowed to use flash-bangs, pepper spray or tear gas with approval of the Police Chief for very specific situations.
So again, these five people want to riot, not protest. And they want Seattle taxpayers to pay for the riot gear to protect them.
The full lawsuit is available here, but you must have a dropbox account to view it.
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