Charlotte council bans CMPD from buying tear gas for crowd control
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Monday night Charlotte City Council passed several resolutions creating new oversight over the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, including banning the purchase of chemical agents such as tear gas for the next year.
The motions were made in response to local and nationwide protests over police abuse and the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
The motion that got the most attention, and received the most debate by council members, was made by councilman Braxton Winston to ban the purchase of chemical munitions and charge a city council committee to oversee police spending.
However, it does not prevent Charlotte Mecklenburg police from using tear gas for crowd control during the current protests.
The use of chemical munitions came under scrutiny after video shot by Queen City Nerve showed protesters on 4th street trapped by tear gas on both sides of the street.
“Our police chief has said that without chemical agents police will be forced to use batons to break skin and bones the people of Charlotte have said that is not a sufficient answer,” Winston said during the council meeting.
Charlotte Budget Director Ryan Bergman said police spent $103,000 on chemical agents last year.
Council’s two republicans, Tariq Bokhari and Ed Driggs, were the only members to vote against the budget motion.
Bokhari said he couldn’t support the motion but that he would be supportive of other actions such as identifying better ways to remove bad cops.
“I actually agree at taking a long, hard look at tear gas to see if that’s the only way but it feels like right now in this motion and other things we’ve heard council say it sounds like we want to do this to the police and not with the police.”
Larken Egleston said that no one on council should feel blindsided by the motions since they were worked on over the weekend in collaboration. Egleston also said that while this motion doesn’t pass unjustified guilt on the actions of police before an investigation is completed it should give the benefit of the doubt to protesters on 4th Street who were tear gassed.
“We make sure that when there are people who are in the streets or anywhere in our community raising their voices for justice that we don’t punish or presume guilt on that entire crowd based on the actions of a few people,” Egleston said.
Council passed two other resolutions creating oversight over the police department.
Councilman Malcolm Graham proposed a motion that created three new initiatives.
1. City Manager to provide City Council full report on interaction between CMPD officers and protesters on June 2.
2. Request city manager to provide recurring report on complaints of excessive force against CMPD officers.
3. Host hearings on policies and procedures on de-escalation policies of police.
Councilman Larken Egleston entered a resolution to make sure Charlotte Mecklenburg Police were in line with policies and procedures in the “8 can’t wait movement” although he said the police department is already in line with some of the goals.
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