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Tear Gas and Pepper Spray Can Be Deadly, But the U.S. Won’t Regulate Police Use

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SOURCE: In These Times

“While tear gas and pepper spray are banned from use in war by an international treaty, domestic use is legal and nearly ubiquitous in the United States.”

(Photo by JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images)

Despite widespread use, chemical agents sold for police purposes aren’t monitored by any federal agency.

BY Terry J. Allen

This article was originally published by In These Times on April 3, 2000. Although this investigation was written 20 years ago, police and other law enforcement continue to use and misuse pepper and tear gasses on peaceful protesters in violation of manufacturers’ regulations and international treaties. Support for this article was provided by the Fund for Constitutional Governmen​t.

The tons of tear gas and pepper spray munitions Seattle police used on demonstrators and bystanders alike at the anti-WTO demonstrations last December contained chemicals implicated in lung problems, eye damage and even death. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the effects of these chemical weapons are not always confined to 15 or so minutes of intense pain and incapacitation. According to manufacturers’ documents, military research and medical literature, each of these agents carries short- and long-term health risks; various formulations contain potential carcinogens.

Tear gas and pepper spray cause health problems even when used within guidelines on healthy people. But in Seattle, as elsewhere, law enforcement violated manufacturers’ warnings and inevitably sprayed vulnerable populations such as people with diabetes, asthma, allergies or heart problems, as well as pregnant women, children and the elderly. “It was like a war zone,” says Russell Sparks, a student from Bellingham, Washington, who helped block a Seattle intersection on December 1. “The police rolled up in humvees, and I heard the clink, clink of cops jogging toward us. Within seconds the area was filled with gas and the air was pure white all around. I coughed and coughed. I felt like I was on fire, my friend and I both became hysterical. He fell down. A middle-aged man near me passed out, eyes open, shaking, dry heaving, twitching in the shoulders. A woman passed out face down. I tried to help but my eyes were burning and I was screaming for medical help.”

Three days later, Sparks still felt “serious flu symptoms, phlegmy, tired, fatigued, problems with eyes focusing, burning, slightly nauseous. I felt like it went into every pore.” He wasn’t alone. The persistence and severity of symptoms widely reported by demonstrators and hapless bystanders gave rise to speculation that some “mystery gas” had been used. Rumors of nerve gas spread like a toxic cloud across the Internet.

The truth is that tear gas and pepper spray alone can cause temporary blindness, respiratory problems, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue and disorientation. Symptoms may linger for days in otherwise healthy individuals. Out of 187 North Carolina corrections officers exposed to pepper spray under controlled conditions for training purposes, according to Duke University Medical Center study, eight had symptoms persisting for more than a week, including eye problems, chest problems, headaches and disorientation.

More seriously, reports by the Army and in prestigious medical journals have warned of respiratory arrest, pulmonary edema, and acute elevations in blood pressure associated with risk of stroke and heart attack. Military and industrial sources also point to the possibility of cancer, birth defects and DNA damage from these chemical weapons.

While tear gas and pepper spray are banned from use in war by an international treaty, domestic use is legal and nearly ubiquitous in the United States.   READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

Are We Being Had… (again)? Are We Being Hosed, or Had?

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new-logo25by James Hufferd, Ph.D.
Coordinator, 911 Truth Grassroots Organization

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Are We Being Hosed, or Had?

“No need for them to actually do it! It only needs to be made to look like they did to mobilize in convenient abject

cowardice the vast majority of the population – something we in the

budding (but never flourishing) 9/11 Truth Movement have warned they could pull on us again ever since 2001.

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