In the middle of week marked by rioting, looting, and violence, Philadelphia City Council on Thursday passed a ban on police using non-lethal munitions such as tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets on protesters and demonstrators.
What are the details?
The legislation is in reaction to incidents between officers and protesters following the death of George Floyd earlier this year,
WPVI-TV reported, and was approved by the council’s public safety committee last week.
Of course, the rioting that’s gripped the city this week stems from
police fatally shooting Walter Wallace Jr., a black man who approached officers while reportedly armed with a knife.
Content warning: Language:
Philadelphia Police Are Outnumbered By Hundreds Of Rioters.
At the Philadelphia BLM riot, a cop got hit or run over by a speeding vehicle. https://t.co/S12XuEoNAi
— Andy Ngô (@Andy Ngô)1603774843.0
Still, councilmembers praised their ban.
“The ban passes at a time of demonstrations and unrest after the police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., and days before an election where demonstrations are expected regardless of the result,” council said in a press release, WPVI noted.
Councilmember Helen Gym said such a ban would help reestablish trust between the public and law enforcement, the station said: “Residential neighborhoods are not war zones. Demonstrators are not enemy combatants.”
Content warning: Language:
Police run away and retreat from a mob of BLM rioters in Philadelphia. https://t.co/mcRONzebDl
— Andy Ngô (@Andy Ngô)1603779761.0
“This is a first step in working with our communities to build a new model for public safety that is driven by their needs and their vision for the future,” Gym also stated in the release, WPVI noted.
City Council said Philadelphia would be the largest American city to enact such a ban. The station said it’s awaiting word from Mayor Jim Kenney’s office to see if he’ll sign the bill.
Roosevelt Poplar, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police, told WPVI the whole point of “less than lethal” force for crowd control is to keep the public as safe as possible during potentially dangerous situations.
“So, basically, you’re taking away non-lethal munitions, and you’re leaving them with only one tool, and that’s a deadly weapon tool, which is a gun,” Poplar added to the station.
One of the first questions following Wallace’s fatal shooting is why the involved officers didn’t use tasers — and Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said
the two officers who shot Wallace weren’t carrying tasers — and many other officers don’t carry them, either.
Complicating issues between cops on the ground and their superiors was a tweet from WTXF-TV reporter Steve Keeley that officers were “extremely frustrated” after Deputy Police Commissioner Melvin Singleton allegedly
ordered both patrol and commanding officers to “not arrest looters just disperse them.”
“By the order of CAR-2, Philadelphia Police will respond to ‘priority’ calls only,” the alleged directive from the department obtained by Keeley said. “This means no calls for disturbance, missing person, stolen vehicle, burglary or theft will be answered.”
Keeley added that some officers believe the order “leaves no deterrent to stop looting.”
At least 30 officers hurt in Philadelphia riots after police kill Black man