Richmond City Council: No Ban on Police Non-Lethal Weapons

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The Richmond City Council voted 7-2 Monday against a ban on police non-lethal weapons including rubber bullets, tear gas, and flashbangs. Council members Stephanie Lynch and Michael Jones proposed the ban in June after protests where Lynch and Jones had to run from teargas, according to reporting by ABC8 News.

In June, Jones tweeted,Innocent civilians [and] peaceful protestors should not have militaristic weapons deployed on them. We are a democracy.

The council’s public safety subcommittee voted against the ordinance last week, and the council confirmed that decision Monday, choosing to strike the bill before allowing formal discussion before the whole council. Although several council members said they had additional questions about the proposed ordinance, Lynch and Jones were the only ones to vote to allow the ordinance before the whole council.

Councilmember Andreas Addison said, “I want to make sure I understand if and when these types of non-lethal instruments are to be used, what that looks like, how they are trained, and how they will be held accountable for if and when they are to be done. And to me, the paper as currently written, is to ban all of them and it’s not specific around the exact aspects.”

“I too feel that I heard some the discussion that took place in the public safety meeting,” said Councilmember Ellen Robertson. “I did not have the benefit of hearing the chief’s presentation as related to this paper.”

The text of the ordinance states, “That the Council hereby requests that the Chief Administrative Officer cause the Department of Police to revise its policies to ban the use of bean bag rounds, flash-bang grenades, pepper balls, rubber bullets, tear gas, and other non-lethal weapons to control unlawful and riotous assemblies.”

Before the vote, Vice President Chris Hilbert said, “I cannot, in its current form, support this paper, and so it’s difficult for me not to strike it as is.”

Hilbert added, “I will let people know that I’m interested in coming back with something relative to a study in this matter rather than an out-and-out ban on these weapons.”

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network.  Email tips to [email protected].

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