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Sen. Ed Markey calls for removing ‘weapons of war’ from all US police officers, banning tear gas and more

Portland police disperse a crowd after protesters set fire to the Portland Police Association building. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images/TNS)
September 18, 2020

Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) posted a statement on Twitter Monday calling for all police officers to be disarmed and demanding a nationwide ban on a number of nonlethal tactics.

The Democrat from Massachusetts, who recently won his primary race for reelection to the U.S. Senate, said, “Portland police routinely attack peaceful protestors with brute force. We must disarm these officers, and every other police department in America, of weapons of war, and enact a nationwide ban on tear gas, rubber and plastic bullets, and bean bag rounds.”

Senator Markey’s statement calling to disarm police did not have a solution for how police should handle rioting or protect themselves from attacks.

His initial tweet was immediately followed up with a link to his proposed legislation titled the No Tear Gas or Projectiles Act. A recent directive from Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler requiring Portland police to cease using tear gas echoed Markey’s suggestions.

Portland police responded that it was “reckless and short sighted,” stating, “Banning the lawful use of CS will make it very difficult to address this kind of violence without resorting to much higher levels of physical force, with a correspondingly elevated risk of serious injury to members of the public and officers.”

The statement comes in the wake of more than 100 consecutive days of riots in Portland and sporadic rioting in several cities across the United States. The unrest followed the death of George Floyd, a man who died while in custody of the Minneapolis Police Department.

Earlier this month, 50 rioters were arrested in just one night of unrest in Portland. The riots are the work of Black Lives Matter anti-police sentiment. The charges of rioters arrested in cities across the United States include felony rioting, felony assault, reckless endangerment, conspiracy, terrorism, and more.

The Portland Police Bureau released a statement last week, stating, “[Rioters] have stated they intend to kill or injure officers and destroy occupied buildings and dwellings. Threats to commit acts of violence have been scrawled on police facilities and other property. Crowds have chanted slogans about burning down buildings on their way to attempt to do that.”

On several occasions, arsonists have tried burning down the Portland Police Bureau’s North Precinct facility while officers were inside. Just last week, a group of rioters started a fire outside of the building while chanting, “Burn it down.” The actions prompted police to make 15 arrests.

During another night of rioting, a man was lit on fire after someone attempted to throw a Molotov cocktail at police. Portland police responded to the Molotov cocktails with tear gas in order to disperse the crowd of rioters.