June 4, 2020 | Press Release

Councilmember Nadeau Introduces Bill Banning Use of Tear Gas by District Police

WASHINGTON, DC – In response to the recent reporting of the use of tear gas to disperse peaceful protesters in the District of Columbia and cities across the country, Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau has introduced the Internationally Banned Chemical Weapon Prohibition Amendment Act of 2020, which prohibits the use of chemical irritants like tear gas by MPD in the dispersal of first amendment assemblies. While the District cannot make the same mandate of federal agencies, the bill directs the Mayor to communicate this policy to any agency operating in the District of Columbia.

Tear gas and similar substances have been banned by international treaty for use in warfare since the Geneva Protocol of 1925, but the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1992 includes a carve-out for domestic use.

“We have a responsibility to protect our residents from unnecessary and inhumane riot tactics from law enforcement officials while they are peacefully carrying out their First Amendment rights. We want to make it very clear that it is unacceptable to use tear gas or any chemical weapon that is banned in international warfare on our residents,” said Councilmember Nadeau.

Nadeau adds, “The District of Columbia is home to an engaged constituency whorightfully and frequently attend First Amendment demonstrations. If our residents do not feel safe peacefully protesting, we are silencing them. There are more steps that we need to take, but it is critical that we take this first step immediately”.

The bill is being co-introduced by Councilmembers David Grosso, Elissa Silverman, Robert White, Brandon Todd, and Trayon White.