Political News

The Latest: Berkeley police get pepper spray for violence

Posted September 12

— The Latest on arming Berkeley police with pepper spray (all times local):

6:20 p.m.

Berkeley police can use pepper spray to subdue violent demonstrators after the City Council modified a 20-year ban on officers' ability to use the weapon.

The council voted 6-3 on Tuesday to let officers deploy a large pepper spray canister if they believe a demonstrator is acting violent or appears to be threatening to attack police or other protesters.

The City Council in 1997 banned the use of pepper spray for crowd control.

Berkeley police do carry small canister of pepper spray for use on individual suspects. But the police chief said officers need permission to use the bigger canisters if necessary during expected demonstrations Thursday and later this month.

Police are barred from using pepper spray to move crowds.

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12:10 p.m.

Police in Berkeley, California say they need an additional weapon to combat violent protests that have repeatedly hit the city.

The city council will decide Tuesday whether to let officers use pepper spray to control crowds that turn violent.

Pepper spray was banned in 1997 in Berkeley as a crowd-control weapon, though officers can carry small cans to use on individual suspects.

Berkeley police chief Andrew Greenwood says pepper spray is less onerous than the tear gas officers are allowed to use.

Four political demonstrations have turned violent in Berkeley since February.

Police say they are struggling to balance free speech rights with preventing violence.

Demonstrations are expected Thursday at the University of California, Berkeley when conservative political commentator and former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro is scheduled for a speech.

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