Berkeley police want OK to pepper spray violent crowds

Berkeley police want OK to pepper spray violent crowds

KMIR

By PAUL ELIAS
Associated Press

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) – Police in Berkeley, California say they need an additional weapon to combat violent protests that have repeatedly hit the city.

The city council will decide Tuesday whether to let officers use pepper spray to control crowds that turn violent.

Pepper spray was banned in 1997 in Berkeley as a crowd-control weapon, though officers can carry small cans to use on individual suspects.

Berkeley police chief Andrew Greenwood says pepper spray is less onerous than the tear gas officers are allowed to use.

Four political demonstrations have turned violent in Berkeley since February.

Police say they are struggling to balance free speech rights with preventing violence.

Demonstrations are expected Thursday at the University of California, Berkeley when conservative political commentator and former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro is scheduled for a speech.

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