Portland mayor: Use tear gas only when 'threat to life'
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has called for police to reduce the use of tear gas at protests — except in situations where there is no "viable alternative" and an immediate threat to "life safety."
In a statement issued Saturday, June 6, Wheeler said the Portland Police Bureau should not use CS gas, which burns the eyes and produces tears, on nonviolent protesters or "for general crowd management purposes."
Police have chucked the gas canisters or fired them into crowds using mortars on more than a dozen occasions during the weeklong series of Black Lives Matter protests that have rocked downtown Portland since Friday, May 29.
At times, officers in cars have sped away after dropping cans into crowds, though this happened after declaring an unlawful assembly in the central city. Wheeler may be signaling an end to that use of gas. But most deployments of CS gas have come after police have reported being hit by hurled projectiles, which could be deemed a threat to life and safety.
Lots of tear gas, crowd pushed back, very hard to breathe. People Choking walking up the block pic.twitter.com/Yd9HE2zJ5O— Sergio Olmos (@MrOlmos) June 6, 2020
"I stand in solidarity with our nonviolent demonstrators, who are sending a strong message that we are long overdue for meaningful reform and restorative justice," Wheeler said. "My priority and focus are to protect the lives of demonstrators, our first responders, and the people in custody at the Justice Center."
Officers with the Police Bureau, Multnomah County Sheriff's Office and Oregon State Police have repelled crowds at the Multnomah County Justice Center for more than a week after a fiery riot where demonstrators briefly intruded into the downtown jail.
On Friday, June 5, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan banned the use of tear gas for the next 30 days. Wheeler addressed this issue during a speech at Friday's Portland protest as well, where crowd members pressured him to ban its use.
Wheeler already has banned PPB from using sonic weapons mounted on an LRAD truck.
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