St. Louis county police in Ferguson, Missouri in the evening of August 13, 2014, took complete control of the city during what were otherwise peaceful protests in response to the police involved shooting of Michael Brown. While there were riots days preceding, the response that night was outsized and composed of egregious use of surplus military hardware and military tactics. These are tactics typically used by military forces against Al Qaeda and Taliban insurgents, and Somali pirates at sea.
Things that happened last night in Ferguson, now being widely reported in the media:
- Use of sonic weapons, such as LRAD, to incapacitate everyone in range.
- Use of cell phone system jammers and interception tools such as "Stingray", which prevented citizens and journalists from accessing the Internet and streaming live footage of police actions. The Seattle police have already researched or have this in their possession.
- Physically interdicting, ordering from the area, and arresting journalists and elected politicians.
- Directly ordering citizens and journalists to "shut down" their feeds.
- Ordering TV network satellite trucks from the area under threat of arrest.
- Refusal of officers to provide their names, badge numbers, or even paperwork or records to people detained.
This is unacceptable in any rational democracy. Please create binding legislation with criminal penalties prohibiting the use of, deployment of, or ordering of any of the above types of equipment or tactics, broadly defined, in the City of Seattle. Pass legislation that:
#1. Bans and criminalizes the use of all sonic or LRAD-type systems in the City of Seattle.
#2. Bans and criminalizes the use, possession, or operation of cell phone system jammers and interception tools in the City of Seattle.
#3. Bans and criminalizes any direct physical interdiction or interference with the First Amendment rights of all people to record, broadcast, or 'stream' law enforcement activities visible to the public in the City of Seattle, unless the actions pose an immediate and dire physical risk to the safety of law enforcement officers.
#4. Mandate that by December 2015 all City of Seattle police officers wear and use "body cameras" at any and all times when interacting in any official capacity in public.
#5. Provide absolutely no exemptions to the above four items.
#6. Mandate that all City of Seattle police conducting public actions must be identifiable in some trackable way to the public for their actions, such as displaying their badge number on their uniforms in all scenarios, and that this information must be provided in all scenarios on demand to anyone their detain or personally interact with.
#7. Mandate that all people detained for any length of time by City of Seattle police must be provided a trackable record of their detainment, with no exemptions under any circumstances.
We have jurisdiction over the actions of police in our city.
Many other parts of the country look to us as a model of how things could be, with our stances on social justice. Let's show them what democracy really can be. What happened in Ferguson must never be allowed to happen in Seattle.
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