Cops spraying at a protest

Photos by Paul Becker

Joe Motil, former Columbus City Council candidate and longtime outspoken critic of the Columbus Police Department states, “Sunday’s use of tear gas and pepper spray on peaceful protesters in downtown Columbus should not have surprised anyone. Even with the mayor’s new directive on prohibiting the use of tear gas by Columbus Police on peaceful protesters just five days ago, Columbus cops continue to ignore any such orders.”

“And why on earth were members of the CPD dressed in riot gear? Putting on riot gear also puts officers in the mindset of preparing themselves to perform combat. The sight of this riot gear only escalated matters. It would appear that Chief Quinlan has lost control of his department,” he said.               

Motil states that, an AP wire story in the June 22 Columbus Dispatch titled, “Injuries at protests draw review of weapons” claims that, “Rubber bullets and similar projectiles have damaged eyes or blinded at least 20 individuals from ages 16 to 59, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, since protests began over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.”

“Whether rubber, foam, or bean bags, they exit guns with the force of a bullet and should not be used against protesters because they can maim and bounce or ricochet unpredictably. Chemical agents sometimes cause violent coughing, a worry during a pandemic. A 2012 study of more than 6,700 U.S. Army soldiers concluded that a common riot control chemical agent more than doubled the chance of contracting an acute respiratory illness such as pneumonia,” the article stated.

Motil says, “According to the Safety Data Sheet (SDS), the chemical trichloroethylene is found in the tears gas that is used by the CPD. 'It is a mild to severe skin, eye, and respiratory-tract irritant. Acute exposure can cause Central Nervous System (CNS) and respiratory depression and cardiac dysrhythmias by inhalation or ingestion. Other effects include hypotension, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. There is no antidote for trichloroethylene poisoning.' The story goes on to say that Seattle, Denver, Austin and New York City have all either temporarily or entirely banned the use of tear gas, rubber bullets and or flash-bang grenades." 

Motil further claims that, “Council President Hardin and Pro-Tem Brown both put out press releases today. Hardin claimed that the 'Division of Police using pepper spray on protesters are out of line with the directives issued last week.' And Ms. Brown stated that, 'I am concerned that this straightforward work of respecting free speech continues to present a challenge for the Division of Police when much harder work lies ahead.' She went on to announcing a plan to hold a public hearing on the CPD purchasing military type equipment."    

Motil concluded that, “No more hearings, panels, commissions or committees are needed. Everyone knows what needs to be done. It should be quite clear by now to City Council, that they need to direct the mayor to immediately order Columbus Safety Director Ned Pettus Jr. to direct Police Chief Thomas Quinlan to order all Columbus police officers to cease the use of chemical agents, rubber bullets and flash-bang grenades during protests. Period. If such a ban is not put in place, the unauthorized use of these so called 'non-lethal' tools of combat will continue. As I have said before, these rogue cops know damn good and well that they will not be held accountable for their actions and are going to continue on with business as usual. A ban on the use of chemical agents, rubber bullets and flash-bang grenades during protests is demanded."