BLM lawsuit over crowd-control devices shelved for now after parties agree on updated injunction

This morning, the City of Seattle and plaintiffs Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County and the ACLU jointly asked Judge Jones to approve an update to his earlier order on SPD’s use of crowd-control devices. Judge quickly approved it. His order also dismisses the plaintiffs’ contempt allegation, and stays the case until Judge Robart rules next month on the validity of the City Council’s ordinance banning crowd-control weapons.


Here are the specific changes to Jones’ earlier preliminary injunction:

  • SPD is prohibited from using chemical irritants or projectiles to re-route a protest, unless necessary to prevent an imminent threat of physical harm or to respond to specific acts of violence or destruction of property.
  • SPD must issue a warning to alert attendees in the area where a weapon is to be deployed and allow reasonable time, space and opportunity for individuals to leave the area.
  • SPD may not target journalists, legal observers, or medics, assuming that they are acting lawfully and in a capacity such that the City should reasonably know of their status. The order specifies how journalists, observers, and medics should be identified.
  • The city will not be held liable if blast balls are directed to an open space near the target individuals rather than at individuals.
  • Declaring a protest to be an unlawful assembly or a riot does not exempt the city from its obligations under the order.
  • Chemical irritants and projectiles shall not be deployed indiscriminately into a crowd, and to the extent reasonably possible should be targeted to specific imminent threats and to respond to specific acts of violence or destruction of property.

In addition, the plaintiffs’ earlier “motion to show cause” why the city shouldn’t be found in contempt for violating Judge Jones’ order is dismissed “without prejudice.” That means the plaintiffs could re-introduce it in the future if the circumstances warrant.

Also, the case is now stayed pending the resolution of Judge Robart’s review of the City Council’s ban on the use of crowd-control weapons, currently expected toward the end of September.

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