Leaders in one of the most dangerous cities in America pushing to block police from using pepper spray

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SPRINGFIELD, IL – Springfield, Illinois, home of Abraham Lincoln, the infamous “horseshoe” dinner and as of an October 2019 article in the USA today, one of the top 50 most dangerous cities in America.

With approximately 114,000 people residing in the Capital City, the crime rate per capita, holds close to 833 violent crimes per 100,000 people.

As a city that continues to be named on several published lists of one of the most violent cities to live in, those elected officials in charge of running the city SHOULD step up and attempt to make it a safer place to live. 

Instead, there are two city alderman that are wanting to take away certain tools in the use of force continuum, as well as place other restrictions on the officers.

Shawn Gregory and Doris Turner are the two aldermen at the forefront in a so called “police reform” proposal that will be presented at a city council meeting in the upcoming week. 

The proposal presented by the two city council members, if passed,  would ban the use of chokeholds, place restrictions on “no-knock” warrants and prohibit the use of pepper spray or tear gas to disperse large crowds unless it is authorized in an emergency order from the mayor. 

According to a statement made by Turner, she feels that the community cannot continue to give police “total control over our lives”. 

In a follow up article, WMAY posted Chief of Police Kenny Winslow’s concerns over the proposal. 

Chief Winslow states he is in agreement with some of the aspects of the proposal but feels that certain parts of it may limit the way his officers will be able to respond in come dangerous situations.

One of his main concerns is the lack of ability to use tear gas and pepper spray to disperse large crowds as well as some of the limits in the two Alderman are requesting be put on the ‘no-knock’ warrants. 

Leaders in one of the most dangerous cities in America pushing to block police from using pepper spray

What Turner and Gregory fail to put in their proposal is that both of their respective districts are responsible for large “pop-up” style block parties that occur every weekend and draw crowds upwards of over 200 people on a regular basis. 

There has been so much violent crime from rival gangs in the wards that these two represent, the City of Springfield recently spent several million dollars to install shot spotters to better assist officers in responding to the shots fired calls.

These shot spotters are detecting, on some weekends, over 100 shots fired in these districts.  Officers that are responding to these calls are met with liquor bottles being thrown at their heads, which on one occasion, gave an officer a concussion.

According to one source, who requested to remain anonymous, officers that are responding to these calls are having to carry shooting victims to safety because the crowds refuse to allow EMS through to treat the victim.  

These incidences are on repeat, weekend after weekend.  Even the residents in the area have voiced their frustrations with the violence in their neighborhoods, the loud music being played throughout the night and trash being thrown in their yards.

When police have attempted to put a stop to the gatherings, Gregory and Turner complain about the “unfair amount of police presence” within their wards.

Instead of helping the police to make the neighborhoods in their wards a safer, more welcoming area, these two want to try and take away some of the tools used to keep their constituents safe.

It makes zero sense, until you dig a tad bit deeper into one of the backgrounds of the two City Council members at the head of this “proposal”.  

Ward 3 Alderman, Doris Turner’s nephew is well known to local police.  Back in 2016, he struck an SPD officer with a moving vehicle and dragged him down the street.  The officer was injured so badly, he had to have surgery. 

Due to Turner’s status as an Alderman, she struck a deal with the department and was able to drive her nephew to the police station in lieu of an arrest warrant being issued.  

Shawn Gregory, Ward 2 Alderman, consistently voices his bias toward the police and continuously brings up race during the city council meetings.

He told the Illinois Times back in July that, he feels “the system is rigged – it’s all rigged against black people and police are holding people down.” 

He also believes that the current Black Lives Matters movement is “his calling”.

Gregory has a less than stellar relationship with the local police, dating all the way back to his high school days when he was charged with aggravated assault and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, which are both felonies in the State of Illinois.

One of his most recent negative interactions with the police, stem from an incident back in January 2020 when a Springfield Police Officer was attempting to uphold the policy of the City Basketball Tournament.  

During the City Basketball Tournament, Alderman Gregory attempted to make entrance into the game after the official cut of time for new attendees to be allowed to enter.

When Alderman Gregory was informed by the officer working the front door that he was not able to let him in due to the policy, Alderman Gregory called the officer a “fat mother fucker”.   

This is an elected city official, berating a police officer for doing his job.  Something that the Alderman should have respected, instead, Alderman Gregory was basically throwing the equivalent of a temper tantrum because he wasn’t given special privileges, because of his status as an alderman.   

A position that had allowed him special treatment before, and according to a statement he made to the Illinois Times, Gregory said, “after about 6 months of being an elected official, he had gotten used to the perks” that came with being in local politics.

It seems as if they’re taking a page from Portland:

PORTLAND, OR – They say timing is everything, which means that the timing of any effort can wield good results or catastrophic ones.

So it will be interesting to see what comes of Portland now that the mayor has banned the use of CS gas by police at protests and riots after over three months of these going on nightly.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has ordered Portland Police to cease the use of CS gas, effective immediately.

While there were orders delivered back in June that heavily regulated when said CS gas could be deployed, now the crowd control asset has been completely removed from the proverbial table.

For the sake of clarity, this ban doesn’t have anything to do with barring OC spray (commonly referred to as pepper spray by most folks).

The delineation between CS gas versus OC spray, outside of the chemical compositions, is that CS deployment can be indiscriminate with how it spreads whereas OC spray is something that can have the mist of stream directed.

However, there is also the fact that OC is something that has to be deployed in close proximity, while CS could afford authorities a safe distance when trying to break up large riotous crowds.

In an emailed statement from Mayor Wheeler noting the ban of CS gas, he mentioned the following:

“During the last hundred days Portland, Multnomah County and State Police have all relied on CS gas where there is a threat to life safety. We need something different. We need it now.”

It’s unclear what exactly the mayor could imagine when it pertains to something in the less-lethal range that is also as effective or more than CS gas to break up riotous crowds. It’s not as though police can set up some large, netted booby traps to scoop up rioters like they were villains in a Scooby-Doo episode.

The mayor is attempting to frame this as some kind of quid-pro-quo for the rioters it seems, in that he’s noting that he’s taken a step toward reducing force and that he hopes the rioters will take a step back as well:

“I call on everyone to step up and tamp down the violence. I’m acting. It’s time for others to join me.”

But those among the peanut gallery are extremely skeptical that this will turn out the way that the mayor hopes.

One Twitter user opined on the issue, in a rather sarcastic manner but also potential outcome of this measure, with the following:

“Cool. Now the Portland PD will have to club these clowns like baby seals. The optics is going to be soooooo much better now. Ted Wheeler has got to be the worst mayor in America, and he has a lot of competition too.”

Others online are saying that for all the restrictions that Mayor Wheeler is trying to impose upon officers, then perhaps the mayor should stand on the frontlines with said officers to ascertain just how bad things can be when stripped of non-lethal resources:

“As police commissioner putting all these restrictions on his officers. He should go out there with them. Let’s see how long those restrictions last.”

Now keep in mind, this order by the mayor comes just under two weeks from when rioters targeted the very home of Mayor Wheeler.  

On the evening of August 31st, a crowd of roughly 200 people had gathered outside Mayor Wheeler’s condominium tower, with malefactors shattering windows and breaking into a local dental office to steal items to light ablaze. Among the items stolen were a chair and various office supplies.

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During the display, those among the riot were said to have been wearing party hats, as this evening happened to fall on Mayor Wheeler’s birthday.

Just after 11:00 p.m. that evening, a stack of newspapers was set on fire and thrown into the ground level portion of the condominium tower which holds 114 residences within it. While the flames didn’t spread and were quickly extinguished, police announced at that time that the “protest” had become an unlawful assembly and eventually elevated to a riot.

Police were said to have arrested 19 people during the riot for various charges, with eight of the arrestees being charged with disorderly conduct and interfering with a peace officer.

It is unclear with will become of those charges, considering that the Portland DA announced recently that he wouldn’t be pursuing a myriad of charges akin to what officers arrested people for on August 31st.

However, two of those arrested were alleged to have been carrying concealed weapons during the riot, with one of them being charged with assaulting an officer.

Also, Portland has had an issue as of late with rioters and miscreants trying to proclaim they’re “members of the press” in order to continue contributing to the anarchy.

Video captured from the riots show police taking one alleged “press member” in custody, considering that police did warn that there wouldn’t be any exceptions afforded to legal observers if they engaged in criminal conduct.

With all things considered, is the banning of CS gas the best idea – especially after things managed to hit so close to home (literally) for the mayor? That remains to be seen, but hindering police’s access to less lethal means of crowd control can only have so may outcomes. 

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