TEAR GAS USE AMENDMENT REJECTED

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By Bob Katzen

The House 38-121, rejected an amendment that would ban the use of tear gas by law enforcement officers in Massachusetts.

“When thousands of people gather to protest the state-sponsored murder of black people, the response shouldn’t be to fire chemical weapons at them,” said the amendment’s sponsor Rep. Mike Connolly (D-Cambridge). “But, too often, we have seen the indiscriminate use of tear gas on our streets, even though tear gas is actually prohibited in international warfare by the Geneva Protocol and the Chemical Weapons Convention. To be sure, the underlying bill we are considering today will add some limitations on the use of tear gas, but this amendment would have made the bill even stronger.”

“This amendment would have prohibited law enforcement’s use of tear gas in all situations,” said Rep. Michael Day (D-Stoneham), vice chair of the Judiciary Committee. “The underlying bill imposes heightened restrictions and regulates the use of tear gas by requiring law enforcement to exhaust crowd de-escalation measures [first]. This bill also establishes substantial oversight over the use of tear gas by requiring law enforcement agencies who do use it to provide a written report detailing all measures taken in advance of the event to reduce the probability of danger and all de-escalation measures taken. The independent commission will then review that report and determine whether further investigation or corrective action should be taken.”

(A “Yes” vote is for the amendment that bans the use of tear gas. A “No” vote is for allowing the use of tear gas.)

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