The Berkeley, California, city council gave police officers the go-ahead after a vote Tuesday evening to use pepper spray on violent protesters.
The Associated Press reports that the council will allow officers to use pepper spray to prevent themselves and others from being attacked.
A council motion stated that police are still prohibited from using pepper spray for “crowd control” purposes, such as dispersing or removing a crowd.
“Police may use pepper spray upon specific individuals within a crowd who are committing acts of violence upon police or others,” the motion states.
City police have been banned from using pepper spray for crowd control since 1997, Berkeley Police Chief Andrew Greenwood said.
Greenwood argued that pepper spray is better for controlling violent protesters than tear gas or batons.
The city council’s vote comes as conservative author and former Breitbart Editor-at-Large Ben Shapiro is scheduled to speak at the University of California-Berkeley Thursday evening.
The university will host a “Free Speech Week” at the end of this month featuring Breitbart News Executive Chairman Steve Bannon, former Breitbart Senior Editor Milo Yiannopoulos, Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow, author and commentator Ann Coulter, activist and commentator Pamela Geller, and writer David Horowitz.
Protests are likely to take place at the event, as violent protests have occurred in the past at UC Berkeley when Yiannopoulos and Coulter had been scheduled to speak. Both speakers were forced to cancel their respective appearances due to the threats by far-left Antifa protesters to attack the speakers and attendees.
A UC Berkeley poll found that 53 percent of California Democrats opposed the First Amendment right to freedom of speech and assembly if it applied to far right-wing groups.