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The Colorado Springs City Council is learning more about the handling of weekend anti-war protests. They want answers about how the demonstration, which started out peacefully, turned into a situation in which 34 people were arrested, and two canisters of tear gas were used on the crowd.
On Wednesday, Police Chief Luis Velez told the council the tear gas was fired only after the crowd spilled onto Academy Boulevard, and protestors started harassing drivers and jumping on cars. City Council members say they’ve had many calls about where the tear gas was used. Some protestors claim it was fired in the parking lot, making it difficult for them to get to their cars, and leave the demonstration. Chief Velez insists the tear gas was only used on Academy Boulevard. He’ll bring more detailed information, including maps and a video tape, to the Council this Monday.
Councilman Richard Skorman says he’s particularly interested in the timing of the tear gas. He says, “It's hard to know how warned people were, especially people down in the park area who may not have know what was going on up in the streets.”
Chief Velez says the use of the tear gas was warranted. “We're not against anti-war demonstrators,” he says, “we're not against peaceful demonstrations, but when people start breaking the law or when people start causing us grave concerns to the public welfare of others, then that's when we will put a stop to it.”
The meeting between the Council and the Chief will take place Monday. The public will get the chance to ask questions of their own during the morning session of the regular City Council meeting on Tuesday.