Cities Roll Back Police Tactics, Tear Gas

Portland is among those ordering cops to not use tear gas except in life-threatening situations
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 7, 2020 6:03 AM CDT
Cities Roll Back Police Tactics, Tear Gas
Protesters Kaylee Gore, left, and Amanda Barnes exchange fist bumps as they sit with signs protesting police actions, Thursday, June 4, 2020, in Seattle, following protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Portland, Ore., Mayor Ted Wheeler on Saturday ordered the city’s police to stop using tear gas except as a last resort in life-threatening situations, making it one of several cities that have started restricting law enforcement tactics in response to protests over the killing of George Floyd. Wheeler says he shares community concerns about the use of CS gas, especially during a respiratory-illness pandemic. Critics have called on the Portland Police Bureau to permanently ban the use of CS gas on protesters, reports the AP. “I strongly believe that gas should not be used to disperse crowds of non-violent protestors or for general crowd management purposes,” Wheeler tweeted. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on Friday announced a 30-day moratorium on its use—though pepper spray and other less-than-lethal measures remain available to officers. Officials in Pittsburgh, New Orleans, and Washington, DC, have proposed bans or limits on the use of tear gas, and Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed, halted the use of choke holds and neck restraints like the one that killed him.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered police to stop training officers in choke holds, and Bellevue, Wash., Police Chief Steve Mylett on Friday banned his officers from using neck restraints except when deadly force is needed. In Denver, US District Judge Brooke Jackson on Friday imposed restrictions on the use of chemical and less-lethal weapons by police, saying officers had failed to police themselves when it came to using them. Videos of police firing pepper spray at protesters who were yelling but not acting violently “showed that the officers had ample time for reflection and were not dealing with dangerous conditions,” he said. Police in Seattle were similarly criticized for overreacting to protests last week. Video showed police attacking mostly peaceful protesters with pepper spray after an officer tried to grab a pink umbrella from a demonstrator. The city has promised a thorough review. More than 12,000 complaints poured into Seattle's police accountability office.

(Read more George Floyd stories.)

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