Gossip, Tidbits, and Tendrils
• Police broke up a Gay Pride dance party and protest in the streets last Saturday night by spraying several revelers with pepper spray and arresting six people. Officers claimed the pepper spray targeted vandals and people committing assault, but video of the incident seemingly contradicts those claims: YouTube footage shows a man standing near the curb, arms by his sides, looking toward the middle of Madison Street, when an officer rushes up and blasts him in the face with pepper spray. It's unclear if the man broke the law previously, but he wasn't doing anything at the time.
A US Department of Justice report last year rebuked the Seattle Police Department's use of excessive force, saying officers shot pepper spray in instances where lesser force would suffice. In response, the city's SPD 20/20 reform plan states that pepper spray must be reserved as "a self-defense tool, or as a last resort option when all other legal, effective force options have been exhausted." So was this an instance of self-defense or a last resort? City officials refused to answer that question. However, on June 25, the police disciplinary office began to investigate the weekend melee. Does this investigation mean police can't comment on the case anymore? "Hahahah!!" SPD spokeswoman Renee Witt wrote in an e-mail. "That is exactly what it means."
• Speaking of callous immaturity, unsealed documents from the Feds and the city's negotiations—they're trying to reach a court settlement to reform the SPD—show that city officials have been stubborn and childish. "The city has made this process unnecessarily contentious and personal," says a terse May 16 letter from the US Attorney's Office to the city, adding that the city's bad attitude "raises the risk of unnecessary litigation."
• Seattle's waterfront Ferris wheel will open June 29, and if the wheel's owners get their way, riders will soon drink liquor in the sky. The Washington State Liquor Control Board is currently considering a proposal to allow alcohol service in the wheel's six-person gondolas. "For the life of me, I can think of no public safety objective that would be served by a denial [of the application]," says liquor board member Chris Marr.
• The first-ever contingent of Mormons marched in Seattle's Gay Pride Parade last weekend, peacefully opposing the millions of dollars that Mormons spent defeating gay marriage in other states. "This is how we can undo it, by fighting for civil rights now," says Sara Long, a married mother who organized the group.
• On Monday, July 1, single-use plastic shopping bags will be illegal in Seattle, part of an effort to keep plastic out of landfills and waterways. "It's the dumbest thing in the world," a QFC employee, not speaking on behalf of the store, told Sources Say, who was shopping for Emergen-C. "There is still other plastic that will end up in a landfill, so banning one type of plastic in one city won't solve the problem."