COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio Representative Janine Boyd (D) from Cleveland Heights, Ohio, along with House Democrat lawmakers, are asking for the use of tear gas to be banned by all county, municipal, and township police departments.
The representatives sent a letter to Governor Mike DeWine urging action from him on this matter.
The letter stated in part:
“Over the past few weeks we have seen peaceful protesters being subjected to militant police violence via rubber bullets, baton beatings, and tear gassing mass gatherings of peaceful protesters. This isn’t the 1960’s or a war-torn country. This is 2020 in the United States of America. This is Ohio.”
Representative Boyd said she is also worried about the repercussions of using tear gas on public health, especially with a pandemic posing a danger to Ohioans.
“When tear gas, or pepper spray was used, what do they do? They remove their mask to cough, to cough, their vision was obstructed, because that stuff gets in your eyes,” said Rep. Boyd. “They can’t see, they’re reaching for people, they’re rubbing their eyes, they’re doing all the things we say don’t do.”
Governor DeWine’s office did not respond to a request by NBC4 for a comment regarding the letter, but, on Tuesday, he asked the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board to begin developing uniform minimum standards related to mass protests. He said peaceful protesters and community members deserve to feel safe, and authorities won’t be giving a free pass to those who act out.
“Let me be clear: When protests morph from peaceful to violent, law enforcement must be empowered to act,” said Governor DeWine during his Tuesday briefing.
The Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio responded to these calls saying in a statement:
“…it is the position of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio that chemical sprays such as Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) or 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile (CS) are safe and effective crowd control measures that prevent law enforcement from using other compliance measures that risk significant harm to both citizens and law enforcement. Chemical sprays such as OC and CS work causing minor irritation to the area of contact (for example, eyes, skin, nose). The effects of exposure are usually short-lived (15–30 minutes) after the person has been removed from the source. Treatment generally consists of exposure to fresh air or rinsing the affected area with water. Chemical sprays such as OC and CS were introduced to law enforcement to reduce the use of intermediate weapons and other
uses of force. By eliminating these tools risk of harm to citizens and law enforcement likely will increase.”