Berkeley council votes to let police pepper-spray violent protesters

Marco Green
September 14, 2017

The Berkeley City Council has voted 6-3 to allow police to use pepper spray in a crowd setting against violent individuals, according to KRON4's Ella Sogomonian.

Berkeley police chief Andrew Greenwood says pepper spray is less onerous than the tear gas officers are allowed to use.

Berkeley police do carry small canisters of pepper spray for use on individual suspects.

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

Mayor Jesse Arreguin and other council members expressed dismay at seeing their city used as a staging ground for mob violence, especially given that the hand-held aerosol spray cans are standard tools for police in San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle, San Jose and many other jurisdictions.

The vote comes ahead of a speech scheduled for later this week by former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro at the University of California, Berkeley.

But officers can't use pepper spray to control crowds, and they can't spray people participating in nonviolent protests, even if those protests are illegal.

Four political demonstrations have turned violent in Berkeley since February.

Police in Berkeley, California say they need an additional weapon to combat violent protests that have repeatedly hit the city. The violence and destruction we're seeing at these rallies, committed by opponents of free speech, isn't protesting. Berkeley is facing a "large, armed coordinated group" at political events, Greenwood said.

"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".

Reports circulated on Wednesday that former Trump adviser Steve Bannon may soon appear at an event on the campus.

Yiannopoulos' appearance on campus in February was ultimately canceled due to safety reasons after 1,500 people showed up to protest his scheduled speaking engagement at the university's new Martin Luther King Jr.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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