Police are not allowed to use tear gas, Colorado judge orders. Here’s why

Brooke Wolford

A federal judge has restricted the Denver Police Department from using certain crowd-control tactics, adding that “property damage is a small price to pay for constitutional rights,” KMGH reported.

U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson blocked the use of chemicals like tear gas and “less-than-lethal” weapons like rubber bullets on peaceful protesters as demonstrations around the country over the death of George Floyd continue, according to Insider. Floyd was an unarmed black man who died after a former police officer in Minneapolis kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes in late May, Insider reported.

The temporary injunction on Friday follows a local lawsuit filing in Denver District Court from protesters who said officers used excessive force during the city’s Floyd protests, according to Reuters. While most protesters acted peacefully, a few broke windows in the state Supreme Court building and a museum, Reuters reported.

“If a store’s windows must be broken to prevent a protester’s facial bones from being broken or eye being permanently damaged, that is more than a fair trade,” Jackson wrote, according to Reuters.

“If a building must be graffiti-ed to prevent the suppression of free speech, that is a fair trade. The threat to physical safety and free speech outweighs the threat to property,” Jackson said, according to Insider.

The order also restricts use of any kind of chemical weapons or projectiles unless specifically authorized by an on-scene supervisor, KUSA reported. Jackson said that while he wants to protect citizens’ freedom of speech, he also recognizes the need to keep officers safe, according to KUSA.

“I seek to balance citizens’ constitutional rights against officers’ ability to do their job,” Jackson said in his order, according to KUSA. “However, the time is past to rely solely on the good faith and discretion of the Denver Police Department and its colleagues from other jurisdictions.”

added grafThe violence and looting is being done by much smaller groups at mostly peaceful gatherings, authorities say. The vast majority of the protesters across the nation have been “peaceful demonstrators calling for change,” law enforcement officials told ABC News.

The Denver restraining order is temporary: It will expire after 14 days, KMGH reported.