Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) along with other Ohio House Democrats sent a letter on Tuesday to Gov. Mike DeWine asking that tear gas usage be banned.
“During the past week, tear gas, pepper spray and mace have all been used by police against peaceful protestors in Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toledo, Dayton and Akron,” the letter says. “We are extremely concerned about the use of tear gas and other chemical agents, which are banned under the Geneva Protocol, on the general population and the dangerous impact these agents may have on public health.”
The letter gives three reasons as to why tear gas should stop being used by police.
The first reason Ohio House Democrats give as to why tear gas should be banned is because of the potential health effects it can have on Ohioans.
“Tear gas can cause physical injury, permanent disability, and even death,” the letter states.
According to the Dayton Daily News, tear gas is being investigated as a possible reason why recent Ohio State college graduate Sarah Grossman died during a George Floyd protest on May 28.
Next, House Democrats argue tear gas violates people’s civil and human rights.
“The use of tear gas is not only irresponsible, it is un-American,” the letter says. “The unjustified use of a dangerous chemical weapon on protesters raises serious human rights concerns under international law.”
Finally, the letter says that tear gas can exacerbate the spread of the coronavirus.
“There have been heightened concerns that the use of tear gas, pepper spray and mace will increase the spread of COVID-19,” the letter details. “These chemical agents can cause uncontrollable eye-watering, nasal and sinus discharge, coughing, vomiting— all of which would increase the spread of water droplets, the main way in which COVID-19 spreads.”
After Ohio House Democrats sent his letter to DeWine and Acton, the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio released a statement defending tear gas usage, according to WKBN.
“…it is the position of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio that chemical sprays such as Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) or 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile (CS) are safe and effective crowd control measures that prevent law enforcement from using other compliance measures that risk significant harm to both citizens and law enforcement. Chemical sprays such as OC and CS work causing minor irritation to the area of contact (for example, eyes, skin, nose). The effects of exposure are usually short-lived (15–30 minutes) after the person has been removed from the source. Treatment generally consists of exposure to fresh air or rinsing the affected area with water. Chemical sprays such as OC and CS were introduced to law enforcement to reduce the use of intermediate weapons and other uses of force. By eliminating these tools risk of harm to citizens and law enforcement likely will increase.”
On Tuesday, DeWine asked Ohio’s Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board (CCPAB) to begin developing uniform minimum standards related to mass protests in an effort to improve community-police relations in the state.
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Zachery Schmidt is the digital editor of Star News Digital Media. If you have any tips, email Zachery at [email protected] Follow Zachery on Twitter @zacheryschmidt2.
Photo “Police-Protester Interaction” by Becker1999. CC BY 2.0.