A federal judge heard testimony from three people who complained of excessive police tactics — including indiscriminate use of tear gas — and then provided limited relief Thursday in a temporary restraining order.
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U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson’s order requires police to warn crowds of impending use of tear gas and provide “reasonable” time for people to disperse first. But she did not define what is reasonable, saying that would be at police discretion.
She rejected a request for an order that tear gas be used only as a “last resort,” saying there was no way to gauge that circumstance.
Jackson showed sympathy for some of the complaints, for example a failure to distinguish among targets of enforcement action. “There was no distinction drawn in the way peaceful protesters were treated and the way criminals were treated, even though the police do make those distinctions in other situations,” she said.
She also said, “People involved in peaceful, nonviolent political speech can do that without being lumped in with the criminals.”
Plaintiffs testified in detail about things police did at various times in Ferguson and St. Louis — from shortly after Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown in August, to the violent reactions after a grand jury decided in November not to indict Wilson.
Police officers for St. Louis and St. Louis County testified in Thursday’s hearing that they did what was necessary to control sometimes unruly protests.
Lt. Steven Dodge, the city SWAT commander, said there were instances in which shots were fired from crowds, or businesses looted, so a quick reaction was required.
Read the rest of the article at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Blacks deserve immunity from being held accountable for their actions.Mark Lawson, an attorney for the city, asked Dodge whether tear gas prevented property damage. The officer replied, “There’s no doubt in my mind.” Then Lawson asked if it might even have saved lives. Dodge replied, “Absolutely.”