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Berkeley City Council votes to let police pepper-spray violent protesters

Berkeley City Council votes to let police pepper-spray violent protesters
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The City Council in Berkeley, Calif., on Tuesday voted to let police use pepper spray on protesters who become violent.

The decision gives police the option to use pepper spray to prevent attacks on themselves and others, according to The Associated Press.

Police are still barred from using pepper spray as a "crowd control technique to disperse a crowd or move a crowd," the council motion says, the news service reported.

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"Police may use pepper spray upon specific individuals within a crowd who are committing acts of violence upon police or others," the motion said.

Police in the city have been barred from using pepper spray to control crowds since 1997, Berkeley Police Chief Andrew Greenwood said. He argued that pepper spray is a better option than other methods that have been used to control violent crowds, such as batons or tear gas.

The vote comes ahead of a speech scheduled for later this week by conservative pundit Ben Shapiro at the University of California, Berkeley.

A "Free Speech Week" at the university is scheduled to take place later this month, featuring former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon and conservative pundits Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter.

The event is likely to draw huge protests.

Violent protests broke out at the campus earlier this year, when Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak. The event was canceled.

This report was updated at 8:26 a.m.