“Because protesters now must purchase expensive equipment to be assured that they will be able to protest safely, the indiscriminate use of weapons by SPD implicates equal protection,” the ACLU and BLM are suing the city of Seattle and want them to provide protesters protective gear.
They want the gear so they can keep on protesting and causing chaos and you just can’t wait for Trump and others to weigh in on this lunacy.
The plaintiffs’ attorney called it a “tax” on protesters: “the government effect is to establish a de facto protest tax: individual protesters subjected to SPD’s unabated and indiscriminate violence now must purchase cost-prohibitive gear to withstand munitions — even when peacefully protesting — as a condition to exercising their right to free speech and peaceable assembly.”
From The Seattle Times:
A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle alleges that protesters in the Black Lives Matter movement are being priced out of their civil rights by the prohibitive costs of defending themselves against police violence.
The five plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege that the purchase of helmets, gas masks, protective clothing, goggles, gloves, boots, umbrellas and other gear they say are needed to fend off police pepper spray, less-lethal projectiles and other crowd-dispersal tools has impinged on their civil right to peacefully protest.
All five — Jessica Benton, Shelby Bryant, Anne Marie Cavanaugh, Alyssa Garrison, and Clare Thomas — say they were the victims of “indiscriminate” police violence during protests on Capitol Hill on June 25. They claim that repeated use of force by SPD during more than six weeks of civil unrest over systemic racism and police brutality against people of color has made it impossible to exercise their right to gather and protest without personal protective gear, which isn’t cheap.
“Because protesters now must purchase expensive equipment to be assured that they will be able to protest safely, the indiscriminate use of weapons by SPD implicates equal protection,” the lawsuit alleges.
“Because the Seattle Police Department has acted above and outside the law in dispensing its unbridled force, and the City has failed to prevent same, the government effect is to establish a de facto protest tax: individual protesters subjected to SPD’s unabated and indiscriminate violence now must purchase cost-prohibitive gear to withstand munitions — even when peacefully protesting — as a condition to exercising their right to free speech and peaceable assembly,” wrote attorney Talitha Hazelton of Renton, who filed the lawsuit Monday.
The Seattle City Attorney’s Office will “look into these new claims and intend(s) to defend the City in this matter,” said spokesperson Dan Nolte.
The lawsuit, Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County et al. v. City of Seattle, filed in response to the use of tear gas, pepper spray, and less-lethal weapons against protestors during numerous demonstrations after the murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, claims that the use of chemical agents and projectiles for crowd control when not necessary to prevent injury is an excessive use of force that violates the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. It also alleges that use of these tactics chills free speech in violation of the First Amendment.
The suit comes after SPD deployed chemical irritants against protestors on Saturday night, one day after Mayor Jenny Durkan announced a temporary, thirty-day ban on the use of tear gas for crowd control. On Sunday night, SPD announced that they were authorized to use chemical agents (CS gas) and deployed them against demonstrators.
“These daily demonstrations are fueled by people from all over the city who demand that police stop using excessive force against Black people, and they demand that Seattle dismantle its racist systems of oppression. It is unacceptable that the Seattle Police Department would then respond to these demonstrations with more excessive force, including using tear gas and flashbang grenades,” said Livio De La Cruz, board member of Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County. “Rather than trying to silence these demonstrations, the City and SPD must address the protesters’ concerns by focusing on its policies and systems regarding police practices, use of force, and accountability.”
“Excessive use of force against protestors is a violation of the Fourth Amendment, chills free speech, and widens the rift of distrust between communities and the police that are sworn to serve them,” said Michele Storms, Executive Director of the ACLU of Washington. “The City should instead listen to demonstrators, build community trust, and establish meaningful police reforms.”
“As executive director of the Korematsu Center, I am keenly aware that government wrongs occur more easily when people do not speak out against those wrongs,” said Robert Chang. “This lawsuit seeks to ensure that people can raise their voices to protect Black lives and to gather together and march in silent protest against police violence without fear of police violence.”
“This action seeks to uphold rights that are foundational to our democracy: the rights to peaceful assembly, petition for redress of grievances, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom from unwarranted seizures by the government,” said David Perez, an attorney at Perkins Coie LLP, representing plaintiffs. “We will not waver in our commitment to defending those rights.”