Philadelphia officials announce moratorium on tear gas following NYT investigation
Philadelphia’s police commissioner and mayor announced Thursday that the department would put a moratorium on the use of tear gas and apologized for the city’s response to peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd.
The New York Times reported that Philadelphia police commissioner Danielle Outlaw told reporters at a news conference that she was “extremely disturbed” by a previous Times investigation that reported city officers had used tear gas on nonviolent protesters who were trapped on Interstate 676 in the city by police.
“I humbly apologize to those who were directly impacted as well as to our communities at large,” she said. “As recently as today, I have viewed video posted by the New York Times by which I am extremely disturbed and, quite frankly, sickened beyond description.”
“Effective immediately, I’m declaring a categorical moratorium on the use of tear gas for the dispersal or control of crowds, which includes any persons who are peacefully assembling or passively resisting,” she reportedly continued.
“We are also evaluating all other munitions available to SWAT personnel.”
The city’s mayor, Jim Kenney (D), also apologized for statements he had made prior to the Times’s investigation supporting the department’s decision to deploy the chemical irritant. Kenney was involved in the decision to use the gas, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“In watching this Times report, it was clear to me that we cannot wait for the results of these probes to take action,” said the mayor.
“And ever since seeing the video of the terrifying incident on I-676, I’ve regretted my decision from the day before. I also regret my statements that followed, which attempted to justify the use of tear gas in that particular situation.”
“I ignored what my instincts told me,” he reportedly added. “I have never believed tear gas was an effective tool when I’ve seen other cities use it in protests. It always seemed to me to make situations worse. And it has.”
Protests over the death of Floyd in Minneapolis police custody last month have continued in cities across the country for weeks as activists call for changes to law enforcement and policing.
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