A federal judge heard testimony from people complaining of excessive police tactics, including indiscriminate use of tear gas, and provided limited relief yesterday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson's order requires police to warn crowds of impending use of tear gas and provide “reasonable” time for people to disperse first. She did not define what is reasonable, saying that would be at police discretion. She rejected a request for an order that tear gas be used only as a “last resort,” saying there was no way to gauge that circumstance.
“There was no distinction drawn in the way peaceful protesters were treated and the way criminals were treated, even though the police do make those distinctions in other situations,” she said. “People involved in peaceful, nonviolent political speech can do that without being lumped in with the criminals.” Plaintiffs testified in detail about things police did at various times in Ferguson and St. Louis from shortly after Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown in August, to the violent reactions after a grand jury decided in November not to indict Wilson. Police officers for St. Louis and St. Louis County testified that they did what was necessary to control sometimes unruly protests.