A federal judge late Friday blocked Seattle’s new law prohibiting police from using pepper spray, blast balls and similar weapons that was passed following confrontations with protesters. The Seattle Times reports that U.S. District Judge James Robart at an emergency hearing granted a request from the federal government to block the new law, which the Seattle City Council passed unanimously last month.
The U.S. Department of Justice, citing Seattle’s longstanding police consent decree, argued that banning the use of crowd control weapons could actually lead to more police use of force, leaving them only with more deadly weapons. Robart said the issue needed more discussion between the city and the Justice Department before the change went into effect Sunday. Ruling from the bench, just before 9 p.m., Robart said the temporary restraining order he granted would be “very temporary.” Robart is presiding over a 2012 consent decree requiring the city to address allegations of excessive force and biased policing.
The judgment makes sense and it could save lives.