A St. Louis judge has ordered the local police to pump the breaks when it comes to pumping crowds of peaceful protesters with tear gas.
In a lawsuit filed on Monday by Ferguson protesters — given the proverbial thumbs-up by US District Judge Carol Jackson on Thursday — it was alleged that the militarized national guard and local police were wanton and excessive in their use of tear gas. And though the ruling only applies to Missouri, it is a big win for those fighting against the recent non-indictment of Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown. The fatal shooting has sparked protests and outrage across the country in the weeks since.
The photographic evidence of police's use of excessive force has been chilling and sparked outrage on social media.
The ruling requires police to respect these demonstrators' right to assemble, in addition to making it necessary that law enforcement give clear warning before using the chemical agent in order to allow protesters time to flee the harmful gas. It is up to the discretion of the law enforcement present, however, to define what constitutes clear and/or fair warning.
Tear gas is by and large considered a chemical weapon unfit for use as a method of warfare, via the 1925 Geneva Protocol and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) of 1997. It is allowed, however, to be used with no restrictions as a "riot control agent" in domestic situations.
The ruling, however positive, is merely temporary: Judge Jackson set a preliminary hearing on her injunction for January 6, 2015. As of publication, county and the local police have yet to comment on the temporary restraining order.