A Seattle police officer yells out orders at Seattle City Hall as protesters march toward them Wednesday, June 3, 2020, in Seattle, following protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis. (Photo: AP)
The Seattle mayor has banned the police use of tear gas as protests continue in the city and nationally over the killing of George Floyd.
Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a news conference Friday afternoon that the ban would continue for 30 days.
The move came hours after three civilian police watchdog groups urged city leaders to do so to build public trust and until the department adopts policies and training for the use of the chemical agent, The Seattle Times reported.
“After hearing concerns about the use of CS gas for crowd control purposes earlier this week ... we decided we were going to suspend its use for 30 days,” Best said.
During the 30 days, officials will review police crowd control policies, she said.
The Seattle area’s largest labor group also said this week it will expel the Seattle Police Officers Guild later this month unless the union admits that racism is a problem in law enforcement and agrees to address that problem in negotiating its next contract with the city.
The Martin Luther King Jr. County Labor Council passed a resolution Thursday as protests continue in Seattle and nationally over the killing of George Floyd. The resolution attributes policing problems to systemic racism. It called on the Seattle police union to acknowledge that or be thrown out of the umbrella group of more than 150 unions and 100,000 workers that wields tremendous power in greater Seattle politics.
The labor council’s resolution Thursday specifically mentioned contracts between police and the city. It said the police union must participate in an effort “dedicated to promoting safety within our community and within law enforcement by addressing racism within SPOG … and ensuring that contracts do not evade legitimate accountability.”
Seattle Police Officers Guild President Mike Solan declined to comment Thursday to The Seattle Times. In tweets Thursday, the police union thanked people for increasingly peaceful protests and said officers and protesters are part of the same community “and there are people with loved ones, frustrations and hope for the future on both sides of the line.”
Early Friday, Solan posted a video on Twitter set to dramatic music that shows “Kill cops” graffiti and a statement that says Floyd’s death is in opposition to everything the guild stands for.
Later in the video, Solan is heard telling KIRO radio of an officer who broke their ankle during the protests and that “there’s a faction of anarchists who are tragically stealing the peaceful protesters’ message against police officers.”
“I am fearful that this will spin out of control,” is the last thing he says on the video. It ends with the message, “We’re with you Seattle”
Floyd, a black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck for almost nine minutes, not lifting it after Floyd stopped moving and pleading for air. That officer and three colleagues were fired and now face criminal charges in the death.
Protests in Seattle and across the country have continued for more than a week.