Queens, NY — State Senator Jessica Ramos introduced a bill (S.8516) to prevent police from using tear gas and rubber bullets against civilians in an effort to curtail and abolish aggressive policing practices in New York. In the wake of national civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who was killed by a now-former police officer, thousands of protesters in New York have subsequently faced violent encounters with law enforcement. Ramos’ bill removes the police’s ability to use excessively dangerous, and at times fatal, weapons on civilians; with the ultimate goal of ensuring New Yorkers can safely and peacefully protest for the Black Lives Matter movement and any other future causes.
“Police officers have unleashed life-threatening tear gas and rubber bullets upon New Yorkers using their First Amendment right to protest police brutality against Black Americans in recent weeks. By cutting off their ability to senselessly attack crowds using chemical weapons, and other military equipment, we will encourage law enforcement to find other peaceful ways of doing their jobs while protecting our communities in times of disarray,” said State Senator Jessica Ramos. “As we await on New York City to defund the NYPD and for the to state repeal 50-A, it is crucial that we limit New York law enforcement’s ability to needlessly hurt New Yorkers who are making their voices heard.”
Ramos’ bill to prevent tear gas use on civilians also bans the use of kinetic energy munitions — including plastic, wax, wood or rubber bullets — on civilian populations. It also requires law enforcement to destroy any chemical weapons currently in their possession. Many peaceful protests have escalated with police throwing tear gas or shooting rubber bullets into crowds unprovoked. Such dispersal tactics have caused serious injuries including contusions, abrasions, hematomas, bone fractures, injuries to internal organs, and death. There is no need to utilize such dangerous methods against demonstrators practicing their freedoms.
Ramos is also fighting to pass a bill this session to protect civilian privacy by curtailing law enforcement’s invasive use of drones at protests (S.6435A).