"The police are just doing their jobs":

A Response

"The police are just doing their jobs. The actions they take are justified."

This is not true. More often than not, the police engage in their violent acts unprovoked. In addition to this, they are also using their weapons on protestors; they do not discriminate by age or gender. As long as you are there, you are a target. They punch and shove Black people in the crowd, but go slightly easier on White people. As for the actual weapons they’ve been using, the main ones are tear gas, rubber bullets, flash-bang grenades, and pepper spray. Here is what you need to know about them.

Tear Gas: Tear gas is a mixture of chemical irritants that can be used to control/disperse crowds. These chemicals cause irritation of the eyes; it also causes tearing up, coughing, difficulty breathing, and irritation to the skin. It is believed to be a short-term irritant and is unlikely to kill or cause permanent harm. However, as most things go, a large amount of tear gas can be deadly. The police are using tear gas at very high levels against the protestors with no warning beforehand. It is extremely painful and it burns upon impact. In the 1993 International Chemical Weapons Convention, Geneva banned tear gas from being used where military forces are at war. Using tear gas is a war crime. Despite this, a number of countries (including the USA) have approved tear gas use for civilian riot control.

Rubber Bullets: No matter what you might believe from the media, do not be lulled into a false sense of security from the name of this ammunition. Rubber bullets can still kill someone. Despite its name, these bullets are actually large pieces of metal that are covered in a thin layer of rubber. Because of their size, rubber bullets concentrate force in a smaller area upon impact, which makes them more likely to break skin and damage bones or organs. They cause extreme/lethal damage if fired at the head or neck, which is exactly what police are doing. Rubber bullets are meant to be fired into the ground so that they ricochet into the crowd, making them disperse. In hitting the ground, the bullet would lose momentum so that little to no injuries would be caused. Police are instead firing these bullets point-blank into protesters' faces. Several people have lost an eye at the protests because of the cops’ recklessness with these “non-lethal” weapons.

Flash-Bang Grenade: Flash-bang grenades are also known as stun grenades. It is an explosive that lets off an extremely loud bang and very bright lights with the goal of disorienting people as it goes off. It has the ability to cause temporary blindness and shifts in hearing. The most common kind of flash-bang that police often use for crowd control are aerial flash-bangs, which can fly 20-30 feet into the air and advance 50-300 meters. According to an Oregon Public Broadcasting report, there is little regulation or explanation behind how they’re tested, and when used in urban areas, their trajectory could be unpredictable. North Carolina’s Supreme Court declared flash-bangs “weapons of mass destruction”. If a person is near the grenade when it goes off, it has the potential to cause permanent hearing loss. Physical injury is also a possibility. This article goes more into depth.

Pepper Spray: Pepper spray contains an inflammatory compound called capsaicin. It is the same chemical that is used to add heat to chili peppers. In comparison, capsaicin is in a much higher concentration in pepper spray. Medical News Today breaks it down like this: “The heat of a bell pepper measures 0 on the Scoville Heat Units scale, which is used to measure the “heat” of peppers. A jalapeño pepper scores 2,500 to 5,000 on the same scale. The heat of pepper spray, however, ranges from 2 million units in commercial pepper sprays marketed for use in self-defense, to 5.3 million Scoville units for police-issue spray.” When the spray comes into contact with the eyes, people experience a “bubbling” or “boiling” feeling. The spray can also cause temporary blindness, burning in the throat, dry cough/wheezing, shortness of breath, gagging, gasping, and the inability to speak or breathe.

On top of the use of these weapons, police have also been destroying protesters' medical tents and essential supplies, which include water bottles and first-aid kits. There are videos linked at the end of this guide that show them stomping on and dismantling the medical stations. These stations were set up so that people who were injured during the protest could get basic medical treatment before leaving for a hospital. Not only is the wreckage of medical tents completely unjustified, but it is also considered a war crime. If it’s not legal to do to other countries, it certainly should not be done to the country’s own citizens.

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WRITTEN BY:

Amelia Aversano

GUIDE WRITING TEAM

ABOUT US:

This resource aims to amplify the voices of the Black community, educate people of all ages and races about the Black Lives Matter movement, and guide the country towards a place of equity. 

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