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HomeNewsSeattle to Pay $10 Million to 2020 Protesters Who Accused Police of...

Seattle to Pay $10 Million to 2020 Protesters Who Accused Police of Using Excessive Force

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Law enforcement dispersing a crowd of protesters
Source: WHTL22/X

“In the dispersal of violent assemblies, law enforcement officials may use firearms only when less dangerous means are not practicable and only to the minimum extent necessary,” an article by the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner reads.

Sadly, it seems that Seattle’s police department didn’t get the memo when they responded to protests for racial justice in 2020. At least, that’s what 50 of the demonstrators who sued the police department want everyone to believe.

After Minneapolis police killed George Floyd on May 25, 2020, thousands of protesters organized rallies downtown and in the capitol neighborhood. The demonstrations were so intense that Seattle’s police department had to exit its East Precinct building. At the time, the protesters also established and took over a six-block zone, the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest.” Some of the protesters damaged police vehicles and tried to set the East Precinct on fire.

As a result of the overwhelming nature of the protests, Carmen Best, the then-chief, led the police department to disperse the crowds. However, their methods were viewed as too aggressive and involved the use of flash-bang grenades and foam-tipped projectiles.

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Reports also have it that the police department used blast balls that are similar to stun grenades and release pepper gas. This heavy-handed response to the situation triggered 50 of the protesters to file a lawsuit against the police department.

One of the plaintiffs, Aubreanna Inda, went into cardiac arrest when a blast ball exploded after hitting her chest. She was only standing in the middle of a street when it happened. Luckily, volunteer medics attended to her and transported her to a hospital early enough.

Another plaintiff, a teenager, had his finger partially blown off by the officers. A veteran living with disability was “gassed and tackled because he didn’t retreat fast enough.” Many others suffered concussions, hearing loss, broken bones, PSTD, severe wounds, etc.

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It’s noteworthy that a federal court order restricted the law enforcement agency’s indiscriminate use of chemical weapons against peaceful protesters. Even though a federal judge overturned the decision, the City Council has also barred them from using many crowd-control devices. These included tear gas and pepper spray.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Karen Koehler, said the officers’ conduct was shameful. “Historians should review what we collected and write the true story of the shameful behavior of our City against the Peaceful Protesters,” she stated. 

At the end of it all, the City of Seattle agreed to a $10 million settlement for the 50 plaintiffs. However, City Attorney Ann Davison said the payout isn’t an admittance of guilt. Instead, the city only agreed to it because it “was the best financial decision for the City considering risk, cost, and insurance.” 

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“The case has been a significant drain on the time and resources of the City and would have continued to be so through an estimated three-month trial that was scheduled to begin in May,” Davidson said.

“This settlement resolves the majority of the remaining claims arising out of the 2020 demonstration period and is a big step toward allowing the City to focus on the important work of today while moving forward from events four years ago,” the City Attorney added.

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