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U.S. House Democrats sponsor federal bill on police tear gas use
Rep. Alma Adams sponsors Right to PROTEST Act
Published Monday, June 15, 2020 6:12 pm
by Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

U.S. Rep. Alma Adams introduced the Right to PROTEST Act, which holds law enforcement accountable for the overaggressive use of chemical agents to disperse civilians.

U.S. Rep. Alma Adams has introduced a bill that call law enforcement to account for overaggressive use of chemicals to break up protests.

The Right to Protect Real Objectors Taking Exception to Systemic Transgressions, or PROTEST, Act, to bring clarity to how law enforcement uses chemical assets like tear gas. The bill would make the use of riot control agents, as defined by federal law, without a clear, audible warning beforehand and a reasonable amount of time to disperse, a federal crime.
The proposal would set a federal standard regarding use of chemical agents and hold police departments accountable for indiscriminate use against American civilians.

“Across our country, chemical agents are being used on protesters who are predominately peaceful,” said Adams, a Charlotte Democrat. “Entire groups of protesters are being made to choke on gas, as well as being subjected to pepper balls and pepper spray, for the actions of a few protesters.  Over the past month, protesters were often the victims of indiscriminate force. On many occasions, they couldn’t breathe.”

Adams was one of the first local political leaders to press for federal law regulating law enforcement use of chemicals against protesters in the wake of national marches against police brutality after George Floyd was choked to death by Minneapolis, Minnesota police. On the fifth night of protests in Charlotte, CMPD officers trapped protesters on all sides in Center City before deploying pepper spray and tear gas. As a result, Charlotte City Council voted 9-2 last week to defund chemical agents in the fiscal year 2021 police budget, which amounts to $103,000. Congress is debating multiple approaches to checking police brutality and use of force, with Republicans and Democrats working along partisan lines.

“The Right to PROTEST Act makes such indiscriminate use of chemical agents a federal crime, holding all police departments nationwide accountable,” Adams said. “We cannot lose the trust of the public by inflicting indiscriminate punishments without judge, jury, or trial.”

Five Democrats co-sponsored the bill, including Reps. Bennie Thompson (Miss.), Nydia Velázquez and Carolyn Maloney (New York), Marcia Fudge (Ohio) and Filemon Vela of Texas. Adams, Thompson and Fudge are African Americans.

“New Yorkers and Americans in nearly every city are peacefully making their voices heard to support police reforms and call for the type of systemic changes we need to end police violence against black people and people of color,” Velázquez said. “When they march and exercise their first amendment rights, they shouldn’t fear exposure to tear gas, which can result in permanent or long-lasting damage.

Said Maloney: “Troops are banned from deploying tear gas and chemical agents against enemies in war, and yet we are still using it here at home - that is unacceptable.”


Let the police use what ever means necessary to do their jobs
Posted on June 16, 2020

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