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Indybay Feature
Sat Sep 23 2017 (Updated 09/26/17)
Ban Lifted on Berkeley Police Use of Pepper Spray
National Lawyers Guild and Anti Police-Terror Project Condemn BPD Pepper Spray
The San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the National Lawyers Guild writes: Rather than using these critical times as an opportunity to have a larger conversation with Berkeley’s people of color, LGBTQIA, Jews, Muslims and other communities who are being targeted by white nationalists/neo-Nazis/white supremacists — the City has instead utilized this as an opportunity to target peaceful protests and repress resistance.

Although the language of the measure was slightly modified to specify that pepper spray only be used on “violent” individuals, it is highly likely that any weapon deployed in a volatile crowd, including "less lethal" munitions and pepper spray, will hit innocent people who are not engaged in any aggression against officers or others. The proposed policy change contains no guidelines or accountability for use of this dangerous weapon.

The Anti Police-Terror Project further explains who will face the brunt of this new police weapon: On September 10th, at the Berkeley City Council meeting, a 1997 ban that prevents police from using pepper spray at protests, was modified to give police limited power to do so. This is little more than the continuation of an agenda that criminalizes dissent, upholds the tenets of white supremacy and empowers the frontline enforcers of white supremacy (law enforcement) to repress the masses.

According to the resolution, police are not allowed to use it on crowds but they can target individuals in crowds whom they deem “violent." If both recent and past history teaches us anything — it is that those of us who pose the most risk to the State and its agenda that get categorized as violent. And there is nothing in the history of the BPD that should give the people any faith that they will operate inside of the rules.

Read More: NLG-SF Statement on Berkeley City Council Resolution to Pepper Spray Protesters | APTP Statement on Berkeley Police Use of Pepper Spray

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