The use of crowd control agents and kinetic impact projectiles will be regulated.
On April 28, the Boston City Council voted 7-5 to pass an ordinance limiting the use of chemical crowd control agents and kinetic impact projectiles. It was refilled by Boston City Councilors Ricardo Arroyo and Andrea Campbell. Before it takes effect, it will be brought to the Mayor’s Office to be signed.
“Though I support an eventual complete ban of tear gas and kinetic impact projectiles. This is an essential first step,” Arroyo said. “These restrictions will protect the residents of Boston from indiscriminate, dangerous, and even fatal impacts of such devices, especially during lawful protests or demonstrations.”
“This demilitarization ordinance is a necessary piece of our collective action to ensure transparency and accountability in our policing,” Campbell said. “While I personally believe we should ban weapons like tear gas and rubber bullets from ever being used against civilians, ensuring that the City has a specific, transparent, restrictive policy to guide how and when they are used is absolutely necessary to protect our residents, including our police officers, from harm and injustice at large-scale events. I am proud to have partnered with Councilor Arroyo on this legislation since last Spring and to have passed an even stronger version of this ordinance today.”
Weapons in the ordinance include tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and beanbag rounds. Before deploying them, a Boston Police Department on-scene supervisor, with the rank of deputy superintendent or higher, must “personally witness ongoing violence or property destruction and determine that no reasonable methods of de-escalation will be successful. In addition, the same on-scene supervisor must give two separate warnings at least two minutes apart announcing to the group that they must disperse, specifying which weapon will be deployed if they fail to disperse, and ensuring that the group has a way to exit.”
Shira Laucharoen is a reporter based in Boston. She currently serves as the assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. In the past she has written for Sampan newspaper, The Somerville Times, Scout Magazine, Boston Magazine, and WBUR.