Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s Friday promise that law enforcement would stop deploying tear gas against protesters for 30 days didn’t even last the weekend as police flooded city streets with the chemical weapon Sunday in an attack on peaceful protesters demonstrating against police brutality.
“This is a wild abuse of power,” tweeted progressive group MoveOn.
This is a wild abuse of power, coming days after Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan enacted a 30-day ban on use of tear gas in the city. https://t.co/jX3PJUa685
— MoveOn #BlackLivesMatter (@MoveOn) June 8, 2020
Demonstrations against police violence and racism have roiled Seattle as they have in cities around the nation in the two weeks since George Floyd was killed by four Minneapolis police officers last month.
The unrest has sparked a shift in national opinion on policing and cities around the country are defunding police departments—and in Minneapolis, beginning the process of dismantlement. The Seattle city council on Monday debated rerouting funding from the police department, with most members agreeing some money could be better spent on community service and the public good.
Seattle police have continually escalated conflict with demonstrators even as other departments around the country have pulled back on their violence and attacks on peaceful protesters.
On Monday, council member Kshama Sawant demanded Durkan “Google the Geneva Conventions to know what tear gas is all about,” citing the international protocols’ ban on using the chemical on civilians. Sawant, who was among those gassed and attacked by police on Sunday night, is calling on Durkan to resign.
Just got maced and gassed with hundreds others by Seattle police on 11th & Pine. With no provocation. All the movement was demanding was: Let us march!
Shameful violence under Mayor Durkan. And the 30-day tear gas pause is totally meaningless.
— Kshama Sawant (@cmkshama) June 8, 2020
Council member Lisa Herbold added that Durkan’s order included language allowing Police Chief Carmen Best to override the ban, rendering it effectively powerless.
Earlier on Sunday, an armed counter-protester drove his car into demonstrators and drew a gun, firing into the crowd and wounding one young man. The shooter, a white man, was taken into custody by police after the incident.
The calm behavior of the police officers as they arrested the shooter was not lost on progressive activist Jordan Uhl, who has compiled a number of videos of footage from across the country of police abuse of protesters.
Spent all week looking at footage of cops beating the shit out of protesters & spraying them with pepper spray for protesting.
Here’s how Seattle police responded to a guy who drove his car into a crowd of protesters and ran into the crowd with a gun. pic.twitter.com/EfchjtVc0t
— jordan (@JordanUhl) June 8, 2020
Journalist and activist Joshua Potash cited the use of tear gas by Seattle police and the attacks on demonstrators in the city as an indicator that simple police “reform” won’t work.
“Small reforms aren’t enough,” tweeted Potash. “The culture of policing is rotten.”