SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) – San Francisco Bay Area lawmakers have joined a push at the State Capitol for legislation on the use of rubber bullets by law enforcement amid ongoing protests over the death of George Floyd.
State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) are joining Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) and Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) on pursuing a bill that would set clear standards on when the projectiles can be used by police.
The projectiles are being increasingly deployed as a means of crowd control during protests. But researchers say at close range, rubber bullets can cause permanent injury or even death.
"Over the past week, we've all watched with horror as police violently target protesters and journalists with rubber bullets for no apparent reason, sending many to the hospital with serious injuries," Wiener said.
"We need more de-escalation and less military-grade riot gear, rubber bullets, and tear gas," the State Senator went on to say.
Kalra, who represents parts of the South Bay in the Assembly, said -- "Rubber bullets should not be used to suppress freedom of assembly, peaceful protest, or to facilitate curfews and disperse people demonstrating. Taking away these tools that cause injury and escalate tensions is the first of many necessary changes that need to happen if we are to truly claim to support communities of color and address the persistent problems facing Black Americans."
According to Gonzalez's office, current regulation on rubber bullets is limited, with manufacturers not being required to keep records on injuries from their products during development, trials in the field or actual use. Law enforcement are also not required to document when the projectiles are used or collect data on injuries caused by rubber bullets.
Pushing regulations on rubber bullets comes as members of the Oakland City Council are seeking a ban on the use of tear gas, after police used both to disperse a crowd protesting Floyd's death and police brutality in Downtown Oakland Monday night.
It was not immediately known when legislation on the use rubber bullets would be considered by lawmakers.
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