The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department has reportedly been stockpiling long-range tear-gas projectiles and pepper spray since June, in “preparations for possible civil disturbance for the rest of the year.”
Let’s be clear: tear gas is a chemical weapon that causes immediate, intense pain. Longer term effects include chemical burns, blindness, and even death due to the resulting asphyxiation. That’s why the Chemical Weapons Convention and Geneva Protocol BANNED the use of tear gas in warfare. But these agreements have a critical, gaping exception: they don’t apply to domestic law enforcement.
If tear gas is too dangerous for the battlefield, there is NO justification for police using it against people exercising their constitutional right to assemble in our cities.
Many local officials agree. Recently Seattle, Portland, Berkeley, and Richmond have ALL made efforts to ban tear gas from their streets. These bans need to become the norm nationwide — and building support for a congressional bill to ban tear gas is how we make that happen.