Wheeler: PPB to use tear gas only if ‘violence threatens life’

Portland

"It should only be used in response to violence that threatens life safety"

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has instructed the police bureau to only use tear gas as a last resort in a statement he released Saturday. The directive falls short of recent calls for the Portland Police Bureau to immediately and permanently ban the use of CS gas on crowds of protesters.

In the statement, Wheeler said he strongly believed that “gas should not be used to disperse crowds of non-violent protesters or for general crowd management purposes. It should only be used in response to violence that threatens life safety.”

“Today, I directed Portland Police Chief Jami Resch that gas should not be used unless there is a serious and immediate threat to life safety, and there is no other viable alternative for dispersal,” said Wheeler.

His statements were also published in the format of a Twitter thread.

In a Saturday morning town hall on police brutality and police reform, Congressman Earl Blumenauer said he would personally favor banning the use of tear gas in the City of Portland and would also support federal standards to limit or prohibit it. State Senator Lew Frederick also participated in the discussion and shared his first experience with tear gas at the young age of 8. Frederick described the use of tear gas as “a militaristic approach.”

Late Friday night as protests in the city continued for the eighth consecutive day, Portland Police Chief Jami Resch released a statement on Twitter that said, “I am in close communication with Mayor Wheeler about the use of gas and some of the community’s concerns. We continue to evaluate the best resource options to achieve our number one priority for all events, which is life safety, along with the reduction of serious injury for all.”

Earlier on Friday, Wheeler, who is also the police commissioner in Portland, instructed the PPB to not use a device that emits a loud sonic tone for crowd control called LRAD, or Long Range Acoustic Device, and instead reserve its use for communication only.

The PPB said it used the LRAD twice during protests on Thursday night in downtown Portland: once when protesters pointed lasers at their sound truck and again when rocks and bottles were thrown at the truck.

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