Activists In Oregon Sue Federal Government To Stop Use Of Tear Gas

Oregon’s environmental groups sued the federal government today over the use of tear gas to control crowds during Black Lives Matter protests in the state’s capital, Portland.

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The suit, filed in the city’s U.S. District Court, alleges that the Department of Homeland Security violated the National Environmental Policy Act. The suit claims that by failing to analyze the possibility of the severe human health and environmental impacts of tear gas on the local community, they have failed the citizens of Portland. It was filed by the ACLU of Oregon.

The organization tried to contact the agency to gather information about the chemical munitions in question that have been used to disperse demonstrators. Cascadia Wildlands Legal Director Nick Cady said the organization attempted to contact the agency to gather more information.“One of the basic requirements of NEPA is that you at the very least disclose what you are doing and analyze the potential impacts of that,” Cady said. 

“There’s a history of a lot of cases in which NEPA applies, and at the very least people should know what they are being sprayed with and what to tell health care professionals and medics,” Cady said. The lawsuit is requesting a court order for the agency to ban the use of chemicals on protesters. Since the riots erupted in Portland, tear gas has continued to be deployed sporadically. They claim in their lawsuit that thermal foggers have been used to release tear gas and other chemicals at citizens.   

The lawsuit stated “The weapons Defendants and their agents used and are using for Operation Diligent Valor present potentially grave health and environmental hazards. And Plaintiffs and the public have a right to know.” The suit alleges that the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services tested only a few types of chemicals from too few locations before coming to the conclusion there was no environmental impact.

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