Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Spearheads Congressional Fight To Restrict Police From Using Tear Gas
On June 10, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez along with other Congressional Democrats announced a proposal to outlaw tear gas, given that the police has been using this chemical weapon that causes severe eye and respiratory pain as a control agent on protestors that have been demanding justice for George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died at the hands-on a white police officer.
Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Chuy Garcia, D-Ill., and Reps. Mark Takano, D-Calif are gearing up to present the Prohibiting Law Enforcement Use of Chemical Weapons Act in the House of Representatives on June 11. Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to say that tear gas is a chemical weapon that has been banned in war and it is shame that the country leaders decided to use it on their own people last week, adding that it should never happen again.
The police have faced strong criticism for using tear gas among a myriad of other crowd control techniques to stop riots and quell peaceful protests that have spread across America in the wake of Floyd's death. Law enforcement resorted to using chemical agents to disband demonstrators protesting outside the White House on June 1.
After the crowd gathered in a park near the White House was dispersed, the president walked to a church for a photo-op holding a Bible aloft. The White House denied the use of tear gas, but journalists documented demonstrators dispersed forcefully and even found signs of the canisters that were shot at the demonstrators.
The legislation restricts federal law enforcement officers from utilizing chemical weapons while policing in America and mandates local and state police departments to refrain from using all chemical weapons to continue receiving federal grant funding. Law enforcement agencies would need to get rid of their canisters of tear gas within just a year.
The lawmakers recalled the 1925 Geneva Protocol that bans the use of tear gas and chemical weapons in a military operation and questioned why the officers have been allowed to use them on journalists and peaceful protesters. They also pointed out that tear gas negatively affects the overall well being of the victim and its continuous use could lead to the spread of coronavirus.
In a statement, García noted that it has been about a hundred years since chemical weapons were banned in warfare, but the police still use those deadly weapons against the communities they are supposed to serve. Ignoring its hazardous impact, police used tear gas to disperse demonstrators and quell peaceful protests across the nation, including Chicago.