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Health and Human Rights

Protests Against Police Violence Met by More Police Violence—A Dangerous Paradox

  • 1Physicians for Human Rights, New York, New York
  • 2Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor
  • 3Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • 4Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, DC
  • 5School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley

During the past week, the images of peaceful protesters in the United States being shot with projectiles, sprayed with pepper spray, or teargassed by police in riot gear reminded us of the many peaceful protesters in other countries who have been severely injured from excessive use of force by the state. As physician-researchers for Physicians for Human Rights, we have investigated the health effects of the use of so-called nonlethal crowd-control weapons by security officials against demonstrators in Bahrain, India, Palestine, South Korea, Sudan, Turkey, and Hong Kong.1 We have examined people who were blinded by rubber bullets, who experienced traumatic brain injury from teargas canisters shot at close range, and who have had prolonged respiratory difficulties from teargas exposure. The settings vary, but the weapons are similar.

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    1 Comment for this article
    Dangerous Indeed
    Michael Mundorff, MBA, MHSA | Retired
    Well said. When the population needs to be protected FROM the police more than they need to be protected BY the police, it is time to re-examine their structure and budgeting.

    Extralegal actors such as the National Guard, Secret Service, Bureau of Prisons, DEA, and others (who were those plain unmarked armed personnel in DC?) who have no statutory law enforcement authority should be prohibited.