Police overuse of tear gas is something to cry about

The U.S. Police force has been able to use tear gas for over a hundred years now which I believe is the cause of many unnecessary injuries and deaths. 

According to the CDC, Victims of tear gas experience a multitude of side effects including, but not limited to: excessive tearing, burning, blurred vision, redness, swelling, irritation, difficulty swallowing, chest tightness, choking sensation, noisy breathing (wheezing), and shortness of breath.

Tear gas is very dangerous and somewhat deadly. It’s a chemical weapon that belongs in the hands of the military, not the police.

The emotional impact of a big cloud of gas that you know can kill you approaching rapidly can be incredibly traumatizing. To see something classified as a chemical weapon used against the American populace by the American police is horrifying especially when used as much as it is currently.

In October of 2022, according to Ground.news, a block party that garnered complaints in Greensboro, NC was responded to by police officers throwing tear gas into the building without trying anything else. Fortunately, everyone made it out with no injuries, but this goes to show that the police care more about resolving the situation to their personal convenience rather than imploring more peaceful approaches. 

Additionally, closer to home, according to the Chicago Tribune in June of 2020, police officers in Aurora, IL responded to a protest by using tear gas to try and disperse the crowd. Protesters were seen crying with stinging eyes, using milk to try to alleviate the pain. In these instances, people you don’t know were gassed. But one day it could be someone you know, it could even be you; tear gas has the potential for collateral damage. You don’t even need to be protesting for something like this to happen to you.

I kind of get using tear gas against protests if they are getting out of hand, but a block party? Surely there are better ways to get rid of people than using a nerve gas, and if someone or a few people didn’t manage to get out they would have eventually been dragged out with a lifelong health complication, a severe injury to their lungs, or if they are lucky, nothing serious other than having just experienced immense pain from simply breathing in the wrong place at the wrong time. People aren’t always going to be so lucky and evade the gas like those at the block party were.

Tear gas is the chemical weapon of choice for most suppressive authoritarian states to break up protests, such methods are used by China, Vietnam, and recently by Iran. So what American police use makes them comparable to the Iranian military. Tear gas is legal for police use everywhere in the country except, in terms of big cities, Seattle, Portland, and Denver. Not for military use, just police use.

In short, this can happen to anyone at any time. Until the U.S. police substantially change their ways on riot control, it’s important to know what to do when you find yourself in a situation where you are exposed to tear gas. If you are exposed to tear gas, you need to get out of the area and remove any contaminated clothing (if you have contacts, remove them and put them with the contaminated clothes, do NOT put them back in your eyes) and place them in a plastic bag. Wash where you were exposed rapidly with large amounts of soap and water. Any glasses or other jewelry should also be washed with soap and water. If your eyes are burning or vision is blurred, wash your eyes with water for 10 to 15 minutes. It is important to see a medical professional soon after being exposed to tear gas. Tear gas is destructive; be aware of it.