Democratic Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler on Thursday banned the use of tear gas as violent rioting in the Oregon city surpassed the 100-day mark.
“We need something different,” the Democrat wrote in a news release. “We need it now.”
“It’s time for everyone to reduce the violence in our community,” he continued. “We all want change. We all have the opportunity and obligation to create change. We all want to focus on the fundamental issue at hand — justice for Black people and all people of color.”
Wheeler said his administration and the state Legislature are seeking “safer alternatives” to the non-lethal gas.
The mayor also condemned the criminal behavior of rioters.
“Arson, vandalism, and violence are not going to drive change in this community,” he said. “I expect the police to arrest people who engage in criminal acts.”
The Portland Police Bureau condemned Wheeler’s decision to ban the gas in a news release, arguing that it has been used sparingly to disperse dangerous crowds.
“CS gas is a tool which has been used sparingly in the last 104 nights,” the bureau wrote.
“We want to clear up a misconception that it is being used as crowd control. It is not. It is being used to disperse crowds only when there is a life safety event. Most recently, it was used to disperse a crowd from which a Molotov cocktail was thrown at officers and ended up injuring a community member who was on fire.”
— Portland Police (@PortlandPolice) September 10, 2020
“Banning the lawful use of CS will make it very difficult to address this kind of violence without resorting to much higher levels of physical force, with a correspondingly elevated risk of serious injury to members of the public and officers,” the bureau continued.
Nine rioters were charged Wednesday for crimes ranging from launching mortars at federal buildings to injuring a law enforcement officer, according to KXL.
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