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caption: Protesters run through tear gas and flash bombs on Saturday, May 30, 2020, at the intersection of 5th and Pine Streets in Seattle. Thousands gathered in a protest that turned violent following the violent police killing of George Floyd, a black man who was killed by a white police officer who held his knee on Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, as he repeatedly said, 'I can't breathe,' in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.
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Protesters run through tear gas and flash bombs on Saturday, May 30, 2020, at the intersection of 5th and Pine Streets in Seattle. Thousands gathered in a protest that turned violent following the violent police killing of George Floyd, a black man who was killed by a white police officer who held his knee on Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, as he repeatedly said, 'I can't breathe,' in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Seattle City Council bars police use of tear gas, chokeholds

The Seattle City Council has voted unanimously to bar police from using tear gas, pepper spray and several other crowd control devices after officers repeatedly used them on mostly peaceful demonstrators protesting racism and police brutality.

The 9-0 vote Monday came amid frustration with the Seattle Police Department, which used tear gas to disperse protesters in the city's densest neighborhood, Capitol Hill, just days after Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best promised not to.

The council heard complaints from residents forced out of their homes by the gas even though they weren't protesting.

Tear gas was also used days earlier during protests and looting in downtown Seattle.

In an interview Tuesday morning with KUOW, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best defended the use of tear gas to disperse crowds, saying that can defuse tense situations and while the gas can be irritating, the effects dissipate. She said losing such crowd-control weapons would mean officers were left with riot batons to defend themselves -- something she said she doesn't want to see.

The City Council also:

  • Banned the use of chokeholds by police officers. Seattle police policy already discouraged chokeholds, and there have been concerns in surrounding cities. There has been a national push to do the same.
  • Adopted legislation requiring police officers to display the numbers on their badges. That would prevent the tradition of officers covering badge numbers as a sign of mourning the death of another officer. People at the Seattle protests said it made it difficult to identify officers they say mistreated them.