clear
Saturday November 18th, 2017 1:44AM
9:48PM ( 3 hours ago ) Weather Alert

Berkeley police get to use pepper spray at violent protests

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — The Berkeley City Council on Tuesday gave police permission to use pepper spray to repel demonstrators attacking officers and others during violent protests of the kind that have repeatedly hit the city this year.

The 6-3 vote by the council came ahead of another planned speech Thursday at the University of California, Berkeley.

The city banned pepper spray in 1997 as a crowd-control weapon, though most law enforcement agencies permit officers to use it to disburse violent crowds, Berkeley police Chief Andrew Greenwood said.

Greenwood sought such permission at an emergency council meeting, saying it is preferable to batons and tear gas, which the city is allowed to use but disburses far wider than pepper spray.

The council rejected its use for crowd control Tuesday, but agreed to modify its ban and expand police powers to use it.

The council said pepper spray "shall not be used as a crowd control technique to disperse a crowd or move a crowd," the motion stated. "Police may use pepper spray upon specific individuals within a crowd who are committing acts of violence upon police or others."

Berkeley police carry small canister of pepper spray for use on individual suspects. But the police chief said officers need permission to use bigger canisters if necessary.

Officers were preparing for violence as soon as Thursday when conservative political commentator and former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro appears on campus and again later this month when conservative figures have been invited to speak.

"It is a request made of urgency," Greenwood said.

Dozens of people lined up at City Hall to oppose arming Berkeley police with the larger canister of pepper spray, saying it is too easy for officers to use and has the potential to be used on peaceful protesters.

Some cities nationwide banned pepper spray after several high-profile incidents of police using it on peaceful protesters. An incident in which students at the University of California, Davis, were pepper-sprayed during a peaceful demonstration in 2014 led to a $1 million legal settlement for the protesters.

Ishmael Tarikh, a civil rights lawyer with the National Lawyers Guild, said police must issue a dispersal order before firing tear gas canisters. Tarikh said police don't have to issue a warning when using pepper spray.

"It's a blunt instrument used for a very precise problem," he said.

Four political demonstrations have turned violent in Berkeley since February, prompting officers to come up with new strategies to control rowdy and sometimes dangerous crowds. Berkeley police said they have not deployed tear gas at the other protests.

Police say they are struggling to balance free speech rights with preventing violence. Berkeley is facing a "large, armed, coordinated group" at political events, Greenwood said.

"Our officers do not have the tools to address this threat," he said.

Joseph Giacalone, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former New York City police sergeant, said it would be advantageous for police to be able to use pepper spray during protests but tactical decisions should be made based on the conditions.

He said although tear gas and pepper spray often cause the same effects, shooting tear gas at a group of protesters often means spraying innocent bystanders and people frequently throw the cans back at officers.

"There are going to be bystanders in that crowd, and let's face it, the people you're trying to control come prepared for it. They have gas masks on," Giacalone said.

Later this month, a conservative group says it plans to bring former White House adviser Steve Bannon to speak on campus along with former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos and politically conservative commentator Ann Coulter.

A Yiannopoulos appearance on campus in February was canceled for safety reasons when protests turned violent and spilled into downtown Berkeley. Protesters smashed windows of businesses and marred walls with graffiti.

___

Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Movie about marathon bombing survivor premieres at hospital
The U.S. premiere of a film chronicling the story of Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman has taken place at the hospital where he and others who were injured in the 2013 deadly attack were treated
10:28PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Bangladesh leader visits Rohingya refugees, assures help
Bangladesh leader demands Myanmar take back Rohingya refugees, says she will not 'tolerate injustice'
10:21PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Berkeley police get to use pepper spray at violent protests
Police in Berkeley are asked the city council for permission to add pepper spray to the force's arsenal to disburse violent demonstrations that have repeatedly hit the city this year during political protests
10:21PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Justices allow Trump administration ban on most refugees
The Supreme Court is allowing the Trump administration to maintain its restrictive policy on refugees
10:02PM ( 45 minutes ago )
Lawyer: 'Laughable' to say client may be tied to NY slayings
The lawyer for a carpenter convicted of killing two prostitutes says it's "laughable" for a prosecutor to say his client may be responsible for at least one of the 10 unsolved killings of people along a Long Island beach highway
9:24PM ( 1 hour ago )
Europe leaders view devastated islands as locals struggle
France's president and the Dutch king are touring Caribbean territories hammered by Hurricane Irma, bringing in much-needed food, water and medical supplies amid accusations that European governments were unprepared and slow to react to the devastation
9:21PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Movie about marathon bombing survivor premieres at hospital
The U.S. premiere of a film chronicling the story of Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman has taken place at the hospital where he and others who were injured in the 2013 deadly attack were treated
10:28PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Bangladesh leader visits Rohingya refugees, assures help
Bangladesh leader demands Myanmar take back Rohingya refugees, says she will not 'tolerate injustice'
10:21PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Senate GOP struggles with deficit in work on budget, taxes
The Republican Senate leader and members of the Budget Committee are scrambling to come up with a budget deal to clear the way for the first tax overhaul in three decades
10:15PM ( 32 minutes ago )
Stars turn out to push for donations for hurricane relief
Beyonce, Streisand, Wonder and Bieber among the stars who raise money for hurricane victims during 'Hand in Hand' telethon
10:10PM ( 37 minutes ago )
FEMA estimates 25 percent of Florida Keys homes are gone
Federal emergency officials are estimating 25 percent of the homes in the Florida Keys were destroyed by Hurricane Irma
10:10PM ( 38 minutes ago )