Sen. Ed Markey faced criticism Monday after he called to ban every police department in the country from using what he described as “weapons of war,” such as tear gas and rubber bullets.
“Portland police routinely attack peaceful protestors with brute force,” the Massachusetts Democrat tweeted. “We must disarm these officers, and every other police department in America, of weapons of war, and enact a nationwide ban on tear gas, rubber and plastic bullets, and bean bag rounds.”
Mr. Markey’s tweet stems from legislation he introduced in late June with Sen. Bernard Sanders, called the No Tear Gas or Projectiles Act, that would ban the use of tear gas and rubber bullets by law enforcement nationwide.
“Our streets are not meant to be battlefields, and law enforcement shouldn’t be using weapons of war against protestors and other Americans,” Mr. Markey said in a statement announcing the legislation, which was introduced in the Senate on June 30.
“Law enforcement’s use of tear gas also compounds the effects of structural racism, because we know communities of color are already suffering disproportionately during this global respiratory pandemic,” the senator said at the time. “It’s time we stop using these potentially lethal weapons against our own people. I thank Senator Sanders for his partnership on this legislation and urge our colleagues to join us in protecting the health and rights of the American people.”
Mr. Markey’s tweet Monday was met with swift backlash, racking up less than 4,000 retweets and more than 9,000 replies.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig called his comments “ridiculous” during an appearance Monday night on Fox News.
“When are we going to start talking about disarming criminals?” the police chief said. “I’ve been on the record. I support law-abiding citizens to be armed, but criminals?
“So I guess when you’re throwing Molotov cocktails, railroad spikes, other projectiles, you’re using green lasers, I guess that constitutes being peaceful,” he added. “We have never tried to stop folks from their right to free speech.”