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Criminal Justice & Legal System

House bill would prohibit police from using tear gas for crowd control in Michigan

Riot police
Cheyna Roth
Michigan Radio

New legislation (HB 5925) would prohibit law enforcement from using tear gas on crowds.

Following recent protests across the state and nation, some have questioned police tactics - particularly the deployment of tear gas.

Democratic State Representative Kara Hope introduced legislation to end the practice. She said tear gas is banned on the battlefield under the Geneva convention - so it shouldn’t be used on citizens.

“I think it’s part of the discussion around demilitarizing the police. I say demilitarize and it’s kind of ironic because this isn’t allowed to be used by the military,” Hope said.

Hope said she thinks even the idea that tear gas can de-escalate a situation is wrong.

“I think using tear gas on protestors, particularly peaceful protestors - and I realize that assessment can be subjective - Is reflective of an us-versus-them mentality that is not healthy and not helpful,” she added.

Hope said it seems to her that the deployment of tear gas against Black Lives Matter - but not other protests, such as protests to reopen the state, suggests political motivations behind when gas is used.

“That’s a big problem for the 1st Amendment. The police, the authorities, the government aren’t supposed to engage in viewpoint discrimination. While some on the other side of the aisle might be ok seeing tear gas being deployed on Black Lives Matter or anti-police brutality demonstrations, how would they feel if it was deployed on pro-second amendment demonstrators or the people who came to the capitol to protest the stay at home order?”

Hope said she has not found much support from her Republican colleagues for the legislation.

The Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police did not respond to our request for comment.

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