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Mayor Wheeler orders Portland police to stop using tear gas during protests

The order comes as protesters have held more than 100 nightly demonstrations since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this July 26, 2020, file photo, federal officers launch tear gas at a group of demonstrators during a Black Lives Matter protest at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse in Portland, Ore. An Associated Press analysis of more than 200 arrests shows that even those accused of breaking the law during the nightly rallies don’t neatly fit into President Donald Trump’s depiction of protesters as “anarchists and agitators.” (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

PORTLAND, Ore — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler on Thursday ordered the Portland Police Bureau to stop using tear gas, or CS gas, for crowd control during protests.

Wheeler said the order is effective immediately. It comes as protesters have held more than 100 nightly demonstrations since the police killing in May of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Many have been violent. 

Wheeler was tear gassed when he went to a demonstration against the presence of federal authorities dispatched to the city to protect federal property. He says he still wants police to arrest people who commit crimes.

In July, Wheeler, who also serves as Portland’s police commissioner, directed Portland police to only use tear gas if lives are in danger.

"We need something different. We need it now," Wheeler said.

The mayor released the following statement:

It’s time for everyone to reduce the violence in our community. 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.

That’s why, as Police Commissioner, effective immediately and until further notice, I am directing the Portland Police to end the use of CS gas for crowd control. 

I commend the work that the Oregon State Legislature and Joint Committee on Transparent Policing and Use of Force Reform have done to date to convene experts to evaluate the use of gas and what safer alternatives may exist that prevent the need for greater force. I commit the City of Portland to full participation in these reforms and encourage the Legislature to take up this issue as soon as possible.

During the last hundred days Portland, Multnomah County and State Police have all relied on CS gas where there is a threat to life safety. We need something different. We need it now.

Arson, vandalism, and violence are not going to drive change in this community. I expect the police to arrest people who engage in criminal acts. I expect the District Attorney to prosecute those who commit criminal acts. And I expect the rest of the criminal justice system to hold those individuals accountable. We must stand together as a community against violence and for progress.

I call on everyone to step up and tamp down the violence. I’m acting. It’s time for others to join me.

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