The Berkeley City Council on Tuesday authorized police to use pepper spray on violent protesters, a move that comes as the liberal stronghold braces to host a number of conservative firebrands whose events have triggered clashes in the past.
Police Chief Andrew Greenwood sought permission to use the tool when dealing with violent crowds in the city, which has grappled in recent months with politically motivated violence between far-right and far-left groups.
In a 6-3 vote, the council approved a change to the two-decade-old policy that banned pepper spray as a crowd-control weapon.
Under the amended policy, police are still prohibited from using pepper spray to control or disperse crowds and cannot spray those engaged in unlawful but nonviolent resistance, such as lying down to block a street or doorway.
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