Berkeley votes to ban tear gas, San Francisco and Oakland considering too

The city of Berkeley voted Tuesday evening voted to ban the police from using tear gas permanently.

That's according to a tweet from Councilmember Rigel Robinson, who said the ban will extend past the coronavirus emergency.

"No end-date," Robinson tweeted. "No sunset."

Police have used tear gas and other crowd-control tactics over the last two weeks to subdue George Floyd protesters who they say have gotten violent, looting stores and who have thrown rocks and bottles at them. Police may use these tools if there is an "imminent threat" against them.


Critics have pointed out that while there have been some violence at these protests, the majority of people are peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights. 

Throughout the country and Bay Area, other cities are also re-examining the tools and tactics police use with demonstrating crowds. 

San Jose this week did not call for an end to tear gas, but the chief did say he'd restrict the use of rubber bullets.

Three members from the San Francisco board of supervisors considered similar legislation called "The Right to Protest Safely Act" earlier this week. 

The San Francisco legislation would prohibit law enforcement from using rubber bullets or flexible baton rounds, flash bangs or stun grenades, and chemical agents like tear gas, pepper spray and mace. The legislation would also ban the use of military vehicles and equipment.

In Oakland, Councilwoman Nikki Fortunato Bas told KTVU that she scheduled a resolution for June 16 to urge the city to "immediately halt the use of tear gas for crowd control during COVID-19, requesting the Oakland Police Commission to immediately review and propose changes to OPD policy."

Doctors from UCSF and elsewhere have said that tear gas, is a chemical agent, is not only harmful in regular times, but it can exacerbate the spread of coronavirus. Ophthalmologists from UCSF said that rubber bullets can cause blindness and even death. 

Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez