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Union: Louisville officers told to remove riot gear after deadly protest or face suspension

A protester walks with police officers during a protest over the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

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A department spokesperson said they wanted to be cognizant that the “presence of officers in heavy gear can elevate tensions”

Jul 2, 2020

Credit Police1 – Suzie Ziegler

I don’t want any family to go through a tragic event and you can’t explain to me why you would put them in that situation,” Rodman told reporters. Rodman said their concerns are legitimate after officers told him they saw people walking around the park with guns and vests.

“It was a hostile environment,” he said.

After a deadly shooting at the park the previous night, the Louisville mayor ordered the park cleared of tenting supplies and announced that it would be closed off to overnight campers, reported WAVE.

According to Rodman and the Kentucky State Fraternal Order of Police, that’s when a group of officers was ordered to put down their riot gear, including their helmets and shields. They were told to do what their commanders described as a “soft approach,” said WAVE.

The officers who spoke up and voiced their concerns were threatened to be immediately suspended, FOP officials told WAVE.

According to Kentucky FOP President Bill Purdue, the orders to remove riot gear came after people with long guns were found and removed from nearby rooftop, said WAVE.

LMPD spokesperson Jesse Halladay told reporters that the department wanted officers to enter the park in regular uniforms to be “cognizant that presence of officers in heavy gear can elevate tensions among protesters,” she said. She added that a special response team was ready to respond if necessary.

Halladay told WAVE that no officer was sent home or disciplined.

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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

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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