Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and Philadelphia Police Department Commissioner Danielle Outlaw announced on Thursday that there would be a moratorium placed on the use of tear gas during local protests.
“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 said.
This news comes in response to a report from The New York Times that showed officers had used tear gas on nonviolent protesters trapped on Interstate 676.
“I humbly apologize to those who were directly impacted as well as to our communities at large,” Outlaw told reporters.
Tear gas is meant to drive people to flee the gas. But protocol calls for there to be an escape route, unlike this case from Philadelphia, where police officers threw tear gas into a large crowd trapped on the side of the highway. https://t.co/F5BEaGQooa pic.twitter.com/AJDNrKR9Cs
— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 16, 2020
“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,” the commissioner added.
Outlaw also mentioned that the department would be evaluating other munitions available to SWAT personnel.
Alongside Outlaw, Kenney apologized to Philadelphia residents for previously supporting the officers’ decision to use tear gas on the nonviolent protesters.
The words from the Philadelphia Police Commissioner, hours after our Visual Investigation published: a humble apology & a temporary ban on teargas. Important to stress that this also comes after weeks of reporting by journalists in Philly, who wouldn't let the story disappear pic.twitter.com/cqy0gWLZlO
— Christoph Koettl (@ckoettl) June 25, 2020
“In watching this Times report, it was clear to me that we cannot wait for the results of these probes to take action,” Kenney said.
“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,” he apologized.
Protests within the city of Philadelphia and around the country as we pass the one month mark of George Floyd’s death.