Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler had already told police in the Oregon city to go easy on the tear gas during demonstrations. He got a dose of it himself in July when he stopped by one of the protests. So now he's leaving police no wiggle room, telling them Thursday to "end the use of CS gas for crowd control," NPR reports. "During the last 100 days, Portland, Multnomah County and state police have all relied on CS gas where there's a threat to life safety," Wheeler said. "We need something different, and we need it now." Last Saturday marked the 100th straight day of demonstrations in Portland since the death of George Floyd. Wheeler spoke out against violence in the city, per CNN, saying he still expects police "to arrest people who engage in criminal acts."
The city's use of tear gas—which can burn skin, eyes, and airways—on demonstrators has been criticized as even more dangerous during the coronavirus pandemic. "There are sufficient data proving that tear gas can increase the susceptibility to pathogens, to viruses," a Duke University professor said. The chemicals used against the crowds in Portland, which include a compound with chlorine, are prohibited in battle, per NPR, but not against civilians during unrest. Wheeler, who doubles as Portland's police commissioner, wants all sides to de-escalate. "I call on everyone to step up and tamp down the violence," the mayor said. "I'm acting. It's time for others to join me." (Wheeler has argued about the unrest with President Trump.)