Judge postpones arguments in Seattle crowd-control weapons case

The Associated Press

SEATTLE — A federal judge has postponed arguments over whether Seattle police violated an injunction against using force on peaceful protesters and has asked lawyers for Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County and the city to plan for a full hearing instead.

U.S. District Judge Richard Jones initially scheduled Friday for arguments, but on Thursday, Jones said he will use that time to set the parameters for a more formal evidentiary hearing, with testimony and exhibits including video, The Seattle Times reported. The date for that hearing has not been set.

The city on Wednesday asked for an additional 60 days to sort through evidence and prepare its defense.

Jones issued the injunction after finding police had violated the First Amendment rights of thousands of peaceful protesters. The judge cited the indiscriminate use of tear gas, pepper spray, foam-tipped projectiles and other force against crowds during mass protests in late May and June downtown and on Capitol Hill.

Earlier this week, BLM Seattle-King County, with the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a motion accusing police of violating that injunction. They asked the court to hold the department in contempt and require sanctions and more safeguards against abuses.

The organization filed two dozen sworn declarations from journalists, medics, legal observers and others detailing injuries and purported assaults by police.

Police have said they were responding to violence and property damage, including arson and threats to officers. Police commanders declared a riot last weekend after some people set fire to buildings and equipment at the construction site for the youth jail.

The city says police complied with the injunction and used force only against individuals who were disobeying officers or damaging property. It did concede that innocent bystanders may have been inadvertently injured or impacted.

BLM, in new filings Thursday, said the city has a “deeply flawed” understanding of the injunction that led to officers using blast balls, pepper spray and other less-than-lethal tools to move crowds along, including those who were not involved in vandalism or assaulting officers.

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