Portland, Ore., Mayor Bans Police Use Of Tear Gas At Protests


Portland, Ore., Mayor Ted Wheeler is telling the city’s police force to «end the use of CS gas for crowd control,» in a policy change that he says is effective immediately. The chlorine-containing compound is one of the most common forms of tear gas.

«During the last 100 days, Portland, Multnomah County and state police have all relied on CS gas where there’s a threat to life safety,» Wheeler said. «We need something different and we need it now.»

The shift comes after months of scrutiny and criticism over authorities’ use of tear gas and other crowd-dispersal measures during months of protests in Portland against police brutality and excessive force against Blacks and other minorities.

Wheeler has previously told the Portland Police Bureau to tamp down on the use of tear gas, but officers used the deterrent on people «as recently as this past weekend,» according to member station Oregon Public Broadcasting. It adds that Wheeler has been nicknamed «Tear Gas Teddy» by some in Portland.

The mayor was the victim of tear gas himself in late July, when federal agents used it during a night-time demonstration he visited.

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«Effective immediately and until further notice, I’m directing the Portland Police Bureau to end the use of gas for crowd control,» Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced Thursday. He’s seen here speaking at City Hall in late August.

Nathan Howard/Getty Images

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Nathan Howard/Getty Images

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Wheeler issued the ban on CS gas in his role as the police commissioner. Under Portland’s system of government, the mayor occupies both roles — an arrangement Wheeler has previously said should be changed.

As he announced the new policy, Wheeler called on Portland’s community to work together to reduce violence, referring to the clashes that have marked a summer of protests against racial injustice.

«Arson, vandalism and violence are not going to drive the change this community needs,» the mayor said, adding that he expects the police to arrest anyone involved in those illegal actions.

«I call on everyone to step up and tamp down the violence,» Wheeler said. «I’m acting. It’s time for others to join me.»

  • tear gas
  • racial justice
  • police brutality
  • Portland


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