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Richmond Council Member Wants To Ban Tear Gas and Rubber Bullets On City Streets

Cloud of tear gas on city street at night
Richmond Police have repeatedly deployed tear gas against protesters. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM)

Richmond City Councilman Michael Jones said he’ll introduce legislation to ban law enforcement from using tear gas, rubber bullets and other crowd-control weapons in the City of Richmond. This comes after several nights of protests across the city that ended in demonstrators being tear-gassed, hit with rubber bullets and taken into custody.

“I don’t believe it’s the best way to handle peaceful protesters. Period,” Jones said in an interview with VPM. “And we must find better techniques to deescalate situations such as we find ourselves in today”.

Jones said he was subjected to tear gas himself during the protests. Jones says he attempted to negotiate with police officers on Sunday night as well.

Twelve people were arrestedafter Richmond Police declared an unlawful assembly at an encampment outside city hall late Monday night. Tear gas and rubber bullets were deployed on those who failed to disperse.

Jones and Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch have vocally criticized the police response to nightly protests that have taken place for nearly four weeks. Both have called for diverting money from the police department’s budget to other areas, like education.

Jim Nolan, a spokesman for Mayor Levar Stoney said the mayor will review and seek input on the legislation once it is drafted.

"As he has said previously on the subject, he believes such measures should only be deployed as a last resort where broad noncompliance with the law poses an imminent threat to public health and public safety."

The Richmond Police Department has not responded to requests for comment on the matter. 

Jones plans to introduce the measures July 1. 

Whittney Evans is VPM News’ features editor.
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