PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia City Council has passed a bill to ban the use of what’s known as “less lethal munitions” by officers. The bill was introduced after the protests in West Philadelphia in May and in June when police used tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray to disperse peaceful protests on Interstate-676.
The bill’s sponsors say such “less lethal” munitions should not be used on protesters exercising their first amendment rights.READ MORE: Big Decision Looming For SEPTA Employees As Union Fights For Better Wages For Its Workers
The ban passes at a time of demonstrations and unrest after the police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., and days before an election where demonstrations are expected regardless of the result.
“We chose a public process of listening, of truth telling, of accountability, driven by the voices and experiences of the people we serve,” said Councilmember Helen Gym. “In banning the police use of less lethal munitions in response to demonstrations, we are answering the calls of our constituents. This is a moment where repairing trust between our residents, public officials, and police is essential. Residential neighborhoods are not warzones. Demonstrators are not enemy combatants. This is a first step in working with our communities to build a new model for public safety that is driven by their needs and their vision for the future.”
Last May, protests and outrage erupted across the country after George Floyd was killed during an altercation with the Minneapolis police.
United States Attorney William McSwain is expected to announce federal charges related to the civil unrest during that time.
Eyewitness News has learned that 29-year-old Anthony Smith, of West Philadelphia, has been arrested and faces multiple federal charges related to the civil unrest.READ MORE: Southwest Philadelphia Block Renamed After Rev. Paul 'Earthquake' Moore
Attorney Paul Hetznecker is representing Smith and tells CBS3 that he is facing arson and other federal charges related to the burning of a Philadelphia police car during the riots that erupted in West Philadelphia back on May 30.
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