In the News: Protests Sparked by the Death of George Floyd
The social-media-captured death of George Floyd has sparked a fire to an already brewing turmoil concerning the tactics of police and the way our communities are policed. Floyd’s death has created a more visible and vocal frustration, restlessness, and fear. In response to his death, protests erupted all over the world in support of policy reform to change how police can interact and restrain individuals in custody.
Social Media Provides Evidence of Police Brutality
Police have been using nonlethal weapons to disperse crowds during peaceful protest. These nonlethal weapons include tear gas, rubber bullets, bean bag rounds, and flash rounds. Though they are classified as “nonlethal weapons,” they have been causing serious and potentially permanent injuries to protesters. The New York Times reported, the rubber bullets—as well as tear gas, flash-bangs and beanbag rounds—that protesters around the country have faced in marches against racial injustice, have been deemed “nonlethal weapons” by law enforcement officials and the military, who use them regularly around the world. But research increasingly shows they can seriously injure and disable people—and sometimes even kill.
How dangerous are nonlethal weapons?
In examples described by the The New York Times, it is apparent that nonlethal weapons are dangerous and can cause some serious injuries including:
An 18-year-old man was struck on the top of the head, fractured skull fragments could be seen in his wound.
A beanbag ripped the cheek and broke the jaw of a 20-year-old man.
A 20-year-old college student sustained a skull fracture and brain damage as a result of being struck with beanbag rounds.
A 16 year old student who stopped to watch a peaceful protest as he was headed home from his job at a sandwich shop was shot in the forehead with a beanbag round that created a gaping hole in his head.
A 40-year-old woman was hit with such velocity that it left an open wound and exposed a broken rib, raising fears among the medical team that she could develop severe breathing problems.
Research on Injuries, Disabilities, and Deaths Caused by Nonlethal Weapons
In 2017, the British Medical Journal published several decades of research on the use of rubber bullets, beanbag rounds, and other projectiles during arrests and protests. They found that 15 percent of people who were injured were left with permanent disabilities and 3 percent of those who were injured died. Of those who survived, 71 percent had severe injuries, with their extremities most frequently impacted.
Based on the reports from The New York Times and the British Medical Journal, and the evidence presented via social media, police agencies may want to consider changing the names of these tactics from “nonlethal” to “less lethal.” The injuries sustained by the peaceful protesters are likely to have serious and long-lasting effects.
What to Do if You Are Injured by the Chicago Police
There may be peaceful protesters in the Chicago area who were injured by police and who may not be aware of their options to pursue a claim. It is important to do the following in the event you or someone you know are injured by police:
File a police report against the agency who caused the harm
Document your injuries and the progress of healing