Berkeley police ask to use pepper spray during protests for crowd control

BERKELEY (KRON) — Berkeley’s police chief wants to change the city’s policy on police use of pepper spray during violent protests.

This comes after several clashes between groups this year and another possible angry confrontation coming up this week.

The most recent clash happened in August when nationalists tried to hold an anti-Marxist rally drew hundreds of black masked counter protestors.

Police say they trucked in shields and weapons, ignited smoke bombs and attacked some in the crowd.

In April, there had been more brawling and bloodshed. Police say the masked extremists used chemical sprays, sticks bats, bike locks and more shields against their opponents as well as police.

The Berkeley Police Chief used examples from those violent clashes and others to recommend in a report that the city cross out its two-decade ban on police using pepper spray for crowd control.

The chief says using pepper spray would allow them to directly target on specific attackers.

They are allowed to use tear gas, but that can also impact peaceful demonstrators.

The chief is also asking to add language to the non-lethal policy forbidding the use of pepper spray to disperse peaceful demonstrators using passive resistance, such as what happened during the 2011 incident at an occupy protest at UC Davis.

The request comes right before a planned speech Thursday by right wing talk show host Ben Shapiro.

Police both on and off campus are gearing in case that event draws more violence.

A member of refuse facism.org, which is planning a nonviolent speak out event in Sproul Plaza that evening says it’s shameful that Berkeley wants to further clamp down on protestors.

The Berkeley City Council is going to hold a special meeting on whether or not to allow the police to change their pepper spray policy. That meeting is to be held at 3 p.m. on Tuesday.

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