Spurred by student protests, Rabb highlights legislation to prohibit law enforcement use of crowd control agents

HARRISBURG, May 2 – Prompted by disturbing reports of law enforcement using excess force to disperse protestors on college campuses across the country, state Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., is highlighting legislation (H.B. 1107) that would prohibit law enforcement from using crowd control agents, such as chemical weapons and rubber bullets, to quell crowds.

This legislation would prohibit the use of chemical weapons by law enforcement, including all types of tear gas, pepper spray, pepper balls, mace and any other crowd control agents composed of chemical compounds intended to cause some form of harm to a person.  

“As we’ve seen time and again, if you give law enforcement tools to inflict force, they will use them to excess. They did during the George Floyd protests and they are doing so today,” Rabb said. “The only way to prevent this is to prohibit the use entirely. These internationally recognized weapons of war have absolutely no place being used against American citizens peacefully protesting injustice and exercising their constitutionally protected rights.”

Until summer 2020 amid the Black Lives Matter protests, the Philadelphia Police Department had not used chemical agents since 1985, Rabb said. Tear gas and pepper spray are both considered ‘riot control agents.’ They are toxic chemicals that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes as ‘poison.’

This legislation currently awaits approval by the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee.