Protesters Are Sharing Pictures Of Rubber Bullets And The Damage They Do To People
With protests sparked by the death of George Floyd continuing across America, police officers have resorted to violence in an attempt to silence demonstrators.
Over the weekend, May 31, videos showing law enforcement officials pushing vulnerable people to the ground, pressing their knees into protesters’ necks, and using rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse crowds were widely shared on social media.
Soon after, photos started emerging showing the sheer size of the rubber bullets being fired at protesters, as well as the true extent of the damage caused by them.
Rubber bullets are considered a non-lethal method of crowd control; if fired at a far enough distance and aimed towards peoples’ lower extremities – such as the thigh – as intended, they shouldn’t break the skin and should only result in a bruise.
However, when fired at too close a range or at the wrong target – the face, for example – the bullets can be extremely dangerous, and in some cases even fatal.
Instances such as this, occurring during the current protests, have since been shared online, with police officers accused of shooting peaceful protesters and even journalists at close range with the rubber bullets.
In Los Angeles, Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, a reporter for KPCC, was hit in the throat:
Guzman-Lopez wasn’t the only journalist to be targeted either; Josh Sanders, a reporter at 12 News in Arizona, was hit by one in Phoenix.
Thankfully, the bullet hit him in the thigh – where they are less likely to do damage thanks to protective muscle and fat – although it still broke the skin.
Linda Tirado, a freelance photographer and author, was left permanently blind in her left eye after police shot her in the face with one of the rubber bullets in Nashville.
In a series of tweets, Tirado said the bullet ‘exploded [her] eyeball’, adding: ‘My vision is gone no matter what it winds up looking like scar wise.’
She shared a photo of her injury on social media:
However, the photographer said her injury wasn’t important and urged people to focus on the real issue; that police are ‘violently repressing crowds who simply want to not be abused by the state because of their melanin levels’.
‘A white lady losing an eye is not the injury we need to be focused on here,’ she added. ‘Put another way: they couldn’t have shot out my eye if they weren’t shooting at all. And the people they’re shooting at are folk protesting decades of violent white supremacy.’
And she’s right, we shouldn’t just be focusing on a white person’s injury – no matter how bad it is. Instead, we need to be showing the true extent of the injuries sustained by people who are simply trying to address racial injustice and seek a better existence for themselves in the wake of the killing of an unarmed, defenceless black man.
Here are just a few instances of police shooting demonstrators in the face:
Protests continue across the country and worldwide, with thousands demanding the four officers involved in Floyd’s death be brought to justice.
While Derek Chauvin – the white Minneapolis police officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes until he lost consciousness – has been charged with third degree murder and manslaughter for his role in Floyd’s death, the other three have so far only been fired.
The lead attorney for Floyd’s family, Ben Crump, has since called for Chauvin to be charged with first degree murder. His family agrees, and also wants the other three officers involved to be arrested.
A private post-mortem examination – separate to the one conducted by the county medical examiner – recently found that Floyd’s cause of death was homicide by asphyxia, with medical examiners saying he died due to compression on his neck and back by Minneapolis police officers.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.