A new and unprecedented research model is investigating the real impact of what police allege to be a “de-escalation” technique: tear gas.
It started with a protest in Portland in 2020, finding that tear gas had covered downtown at over 50 times, the level federal regulators deem “immediately dangerous to life or health.”
Tear gas immediately causes burning in the eyes and nose, difficulty swallowing, skin rashes, vomiting, and choking. But there are long-term implications for both the human body and the environment.
Blindness. Neurological issues. Menstrual abnormalities. Miscarriage. For some with severe tear gas poisoning, death. For many, a higher risk of contracting respiratory illnesses like COVID-19.
Environmentally, tear gas contaminates nearby rivers, wildlife, and farmland, poisoning food and animals.
The criminal legal system allows cops to terrorize protesters with tear gas and other militarized equipment because it paints protesters as “criminal” for standing up for their rights. Meanwhile, cops can severely harm civilians and the environment in response to that resistance.
So it’s unsurprising they’ve gotten away with it.
From tear gas to rubber bullets and Tasers, “non-fatal” methods of force in policing are extremely dangerous. None of us should be teargassed, here or abroad, where teargassing is already banned for war.
If the system was designed to care about our health, cops would’ve never started teargassing us in the first place.