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Portland mayor orders police to stop using tear gas on protest crowds!

The Portland Police declared the protest a riot after multiple Molotov cocktails were thrown from the crowd in the direction of the police. (Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian/Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian)

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The declaration comes after more than 100 straight days of protests that have seen city and federal officers deploy tear gas on participants

By Joseph Wilkinson
New York Daily News

PORTLAND, Ore. — The mayor of Portland, Ore., banned police officers in the city from using tear gas Thursday. His order is effective immediately and will last until further notice.

Mayor Ted Wheeler, who also serves as city police commissioner, was tear-gassed himself at a protest July 23.

During the last hundred days Portland, Multnomah County and State Police have all relied on CS gas where there is a threat to life safety,” Wheeler said. “We need something different. We need it now.”

Protesters demanding racial justice have demonstrated in the city for more than 100 days since George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officers May 25. At one point, President Trump sent federal authorities to the city, an action that sparked the protest where Wheeler was tear-gassed.

Tear gas bans in other cities have led to police using other chemical irritants, such as pepper spray, more often. The CS gas banned by Wheeler is also banned from warfare by the Geneva Convention.

Portland’s months of protest have turned violent at times. In late August, Michael Reinoehl fatally shot Aaron Danielson, 39, at a protest. Reinoehl was then gunned down by federal authorities who were closing in to arrest him in Washington.

Reinoehl had described himself as “100% anti-fascist.” Danielson was a member of the far-right group Patriot Prayer, which attracts white supremacists and supports Trump.

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

©2020 New York Daily News

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Police & Politics

Fla. governor proposes stiff penalties on protesters committing illegal acts

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis attends an event with President Donald Trump on the environment at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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Under the bill, those who damage property or inflict injury could face felonies, and mandatory jail time if they hit a cop

CREDIT: NY DAILY TIMES – September 21, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday announced a sweeping array of legislative proposals aimed at raining “a ton of bricks” on protesters who break the law.

Under the bill, protesters who damage property or inflict injury could be hit with felonies, and sentenced to mandatory jail time if they hit a law enforcement officer. Blocking roadways, disrupting restaurant business and yanking down monuments are the types of crimes covered in the proposed bills.

Roadway obstruction during an unpermitted protest would become a third-degree felony, and drivers would not be liable “for injury or death caused if fleeing for safety from a mob,” the proposal states.

“If you do it, and you know that a ton of bricks will rain down on you, then I think people will think twice about engaging in this type of conduct,” DeSantis said, according to Politico.

Protesters who commit such crimes would also be ineligible for state benefits or employment.

“What we’re sending the signal is, Florida is kinda off the table for you,” DeSantis said, according to WPTV-TV. “It’s not gonna end well for you here.”

In addition, local municipalities that funnel funding away from police would be barred from receiving state grants.

The bill, the Combating Violence, Disorder, and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act, will be up for consideration during the 2021 legislative session. DeSantis spoke at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in Winter Haven, flanked by law enforcement officials and top Republican legislators, the Miami Herald reported.

The Florida branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called the proposal “undemocratic and hostile to Americans’ shared values,” pointing to its potential to force protesters and the issues they are highlighting off the streets and out of the public eye.

The upshot, the ACLU said, would be to “criminalize protesters and city governments demanding police accountability.”

“This effort has one goal: silence, criminalize and penalize Floridians who want to see justice for Black lives lost to racialized violence and brutality at the hands of law enforcement,” ACLU Florida executive director Micah Kubic said in a statement. “Instead of acknowledging and addressing police brutality and violence in our state, Gov. DeSantis wants to use his power to throw more people into the criminal legal system by enacting overly harsh criminal penalties for protesters who are exercising their constitutional right to take to the streets and demand justice.”

The U.S. has been racked with protests all summer, as video after video surfaced of police killing Black people. Initially sparked by the Memorial Day death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis cops, the protests became a nationwide outcry against police brutality and institutionalized racism.

While property was also damaged, a report earlier this month showed that 93% of those protests had been peaceful and nondestructive, according to CNN.

DeSantis implied that overall, protesters are a menace.

“You see videos of these innocent people eating dinner and you have these crazed lunatics just screaming at them and intimidating them on a public accommodation,” DeSantis said, according to CNN. “You aren’t going to do that in state of Florida.”

©2020 New York Daily NewsMcClatchy-Tribune News Service

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Police & Politics

Senator’s call to disarm Mass. cops of ‘weapons of war’ draws criticism from police union

Incumbent U.S. Sen. Edward Markey speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, in Malden, Mass., after defeating U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III in the Massachusetts Democratic Senate primary. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

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Police leaders have urged Sen. Ed Markey to step down after the “slap in the face” to law enforcement

September 22, 2020 – CREDIT: Benjamin Kail – Mass Live

BOSTON — Sen. Ed Markey’s recent call to bar police from using “weapons of war” and ban tear gas, rubber and plastic bullets and bean bag rounds amid weeks of protest in U.S. cities prompted criticism from the Massachusetts Police Association, whose leader urged Markey to step down after the “slap in the face” to law enforcement.

In a statement, the 18,000-member organization denounced Markey’s Sept. 14 tweet, which asserted that “Portland police routinely attack peaceful protesters with brute force.” In a letter to Markey, James R. Guido, president of the police association, made the case that police “have been battling disrespectful outright lawless rioters nightly in Portland and throughout the country.

“It is hard to fathom that a United States senator could make such an outrageous statement that is non-factual and a slap in the face to the men and women of law enforcement who put their lives on the line everyday protecting their communities,” Guido wrote. “There is a difference between peaceful protesting and what is actually taking place in Portland, which could be considered domestic terrorism in our own country.”

John Walsh, Markey’s campaign manager, argued Markey’s position was about protecting Americans.

“It’s about removing weapons of war from our neighborhoods and communities,” Walsh said. “Senator Markey, with Senator Bernie Sanders, introduced legislation that would prohibit federal, state and local law enforcement officers’ use of tear gas and rubber bullets by banning federal officers’ use of riot control agents and kinetic impact projectiles. This legislation is in keeping with the Chemical Weapons Convention, to which the U.S. is a signatory, which bans the use of riot control agents – including tear gas – in warfare.”

The Democratic senator’s calls for police reform have become an early flashpoint in his race against Republican challenger Kevin O’Connor. O’Connor, an attorney and small business owner, said in a statement that “brave members of our law enforcement community put their lives at risk every day to ensure our neighborhoods and communities are safe, but liberal Ed Markey is taking his hostility towards police officers to a whole new level.”

The Markey campaign declined to respond directly to O’Connor’s comments. The pair will take the debate stage on Monday, Oct. 5 on GBH.

Guido, whose organization offers a legal defense fund and other support to police officers and their families, added that he had backed the senator throughout his lengthy career in Congress, but now calls on him to step down, suggesting he’s “out of touch with the American people.”

Since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May, which sparked protests across the country and in the Bay State, Markey has called for expansive police reforms to prevent excessive force and to eliminate qualified immunity, which shields government officials, including police, from being sued for on-duty actions.

In June, a Suffolk University poll released by GBH, MassLive, The Boston Globe and the State House News Service showed compelling signs that the majority of Massachusetts residents support protesters and wants police reform. Strong majorities called for bans on officers using chokeholds, military-style vehicles, tear gas and rubber bullets. Half of those polled believed “police budgets should be reduced, and money transferred to social services,” compared to 41% who did not.

The city of Portland has been embroiled in both violence and politics, with President Donald Trump routinely blaming unrest on Democratic leadership. The president in July ordered a surge of federal agents in Portland and several other cities amid violence.

©2020 MassLive.com, Springfield, Mass.McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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Police & Politics

Rochester police chief, entire command staff step down after death of Daniel Prude

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Credit – Doha Madani and Dennis Romero, NBC News• September 8, 2020

The chief and entire command staff of the police department in Rochester, New York, stepped down on Tuesday — among other department changes — as outrage continued over the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man with mental health issues who died after having been put in a “spit hood” and restrained by officers in March.

Chief La’Ron Singletary announced that he would be retiring after 20 years on the force, according to a news release from the department. Singletary said the events of the past week “are an attempt to destroy my character and integrity.”

By describing his departure as a retirement, and filing his retirement papers, the chief and the other officers will be able to draw on their pension and health benefits.

“The members of the Rochester Police Department and the Greater Rochester Community know my reputation and know what I stand for,” Singletary, 40, said in his resignation letter. “The mischaracterization and the politicization of the actions that I took after being informed of Mr. Prude’s death is not based on facts, and is not what I stand for.”

Deputy Chief Joseph Morabito and Commander Fabian Rivera also announced their retirements Tuesday. Two other high ranking officials, Deputy Chief Mark Simmons and Commander Henry Favor, returned to a lower ranking of lieutenant.

Mayor Lovely Warren said during a City Council briefing Tuesday that the “entire Rochester police command staff” has retired and that “there may be a number of others that will decide to leave, as well.” She insisted to the council Tuesday that Singletary was not asked to resign and that she felt he had given his “very best.”

In a statement Tuesday, Warren said that the chief will remain in charge of the department through the end of the month.

“While the timing and tenor of these resignations is difficult, we have faced tough times before. We will get through this together,” Warren said.”

Tameshay Prude, Prude’s sister, sued the city and some members for the police department Tuesday, including Singletary. The complaint claims that Prude died as a result of “unlawful force” and the “deliberate disregard” for his medical needs.

Relatives of Prude, 41, released police videos of the March 23 encounter last week and claimed that they show that officers used excessive force. Prude died of “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint,” with the drug PCP listed as a contributing factor, according to an autopsy report released by the family from Monroe County Medical Examiner Nadia Granger.

Prude’s brother, Joe Prude, said he had mental health and drug problems and had been acting out on March 22. Joe Prude called 911 that day, and Daniel Prude was hospitalized for about three hours for a mental health check.

The videos show that officers found Prude naked in the middle of a street shortly after 3 a.m. March 23. Prude complied with orders to get on the ground face down and put his hands behind his back, the video shows.

While handcuffed, Prude seemed to be speaking in a nonsensical manner, at one point asking officers for a gun, according to the videos. Police said the officers placed a spit hood on Prude because he said he had COVID-19.

At one point, it appeared that Prude stopped breathing. Paramedics tried to revive him, and he was put on life support at a hospital. He died seven days later.

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Warren announced Thursday that seven officers had been suspended, and New York Attorney General Letitia James said Saturday that she had been empowered by a state grand jury to investigate Prude’s death.

Michael Mazzeo, president of the Rochester Police Locust Club, the union representing city officers, said Friday that his members had been told for months that they did nothing wrong.

Reporters questioned Singletary about a possible resignation during a news conference Sunday, but the chief said only that reports of his resignation were a “rumor” and that he had not been asked to step down.

Rochester has been the focus of protests for days as demonstrators criticized the delay in releasing information about Prude’s detainment and death. Amid questions about whether Singletary withheld information from the mayor, Singletary said Sunday that he had provided information as it became available to him.

Warren said Sunday that the chief had her full support. She backed up Singletary’s account and said he called her following Prude’s detainment on March 23, but she acknowledged that she was not aware of the autopsy report in April.

“He handled it the way he needed to handle it internally,” Warren said. “So when he made the call to me, it was the information he had at that time, and then he did what he needed to do on the back end.”

Warren said that she was made aware of the video by the city’s law department on Friday and that the chief did “everything possible” to get justice for the Prude family. She said the City Council will be reviewing the timeline and all pertinent documentation about the chief’s actions.

Warren also announced police reforms Sunday, saying the city’s crisis intervention team would be moved out of the police department.

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