Seattle police officers

Seattle police officers watch protesters gathered at Seattle City Hall on Wednesday, June 3. 

(The Center Square) – A federal judge effectively nullified a ban on tear gas and other crowd control methods passed by the Seattle City Council Friday. 

U.S. District Judge James Robart issued a restraining order against the city as requested by the U.S. Department of Justice.

A June 12 restraining order issued by federal district court Judge Richard Jones barred Seattle police from using tear gas, blast balls and other crowd control munitions against protesters.

Seattle's city council unanimously passed related legislation on June 15 barring police using chokeholds and tear gas following public outcry concerning their alleged use on protesters. 

The development follows the deployment of federal agents to the city as part of the Trump administration's "Operation LeGend" protecting federal buildings and property.

Under the order, officers were to surrender all related devices by Saturday at 3 a.m. PST as overseen by Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best.

In a letter to the Seattle City Council, Best warned that without munitions, officers would be vulnerable amid a "large, violent crowd."

“As City Council’s legislation goes into effect, it will create even more dangerous circumstances for our officers to intervene using what they have left – riot shields and riot batons,” Best said. 

Best did not specify any recorded instances of violent crowds emanating from the city's demonstrations against police brutality.

The Seattle Police Department reported Thursday that dozens of unidentified individuals committed acts of arson and looting in the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood. 

The department could not be reached for additional comment.

Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against the city of Seattle for acts of excessive force allegedly committed by Seattle police by the ACLU of Washington and Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County, among others. 

Tensions are rising between the Seattle Police Department and local media  after a King County judge ruled Thursday that the Seattle Times must surrender unpublished photos related to an arson investigation.

State shield law protects news media from having to disclose "the identity of a source of any news or information or any information that would tend to identify the source where such source has a reasonable expectation of confidentiality."

Like Portland, Seattle has seen continued protests against police brutality and racism since the killing of George Floyd by Minnesota Police in May. One of the city's biggest protest hot spots, the former Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone, was retaken by police earlier this month.

A wrongful death claim was filed by the mother of a teen killed in CHOP this summer alleges that the city failed in its public duty to provide adequate medical attention for her son.

Staff Reporter

Tim Gruver is a politics and public policy reporter. He is a University of Washington alum and the recipient of the 2017 Pioneer News Award for Reporting. His work has appeared in Politico, the Kitsap Daily News, and the Northwest Asian Weekly.