This newspaper's Dec. 22 story about the use of tear gas on "peaceful" protesters who fought with the New Orleans Police Department on the Crescent City Connection raises a question for civil rights leaders and the City Council.

If the protesters attacked the police and took batons and shields from them during the affray, as outlined in the article, how exactly do those who think the police were in the wrong suggest the police control the crowd without the use of tear gas and rubber bullets?

Civil rights advocates have been putting out a lot of hyperbole and misinformation about tear gas and its effect on those who are exposed to it. Every man and woman who has been through military training in this country has gone through the "gas chamber" at some time. This involves trainees going into a closed room filled with a much higher concentration of tear gas than any protester is exposed to, and staying in there long enough to remove his or her gas mask, breathing deeply, then putting the mask back on and clearing it. It is an extremely uncomfortable experience.

It does not, however, come close to the horrors of real chemical warfare as has been claimed. Injuries are almost nonexistent.

As more control options are taken away from police, it limits them to either allowing protesters to injure innocent people and destroy property or forces them to move higher up the force continuum to control the demonstrators. This may result in more serious injuries or even deaths.

No one wants New Orleans to become Portland or Seattle, so what do the self-styled experts want the police to do to ensure public safety when they are being overrun?

RICK ELLIS

retired military officer

New Orleans