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We shall overcome … respiratory arrest

Mar. 22, 2000

It can be dangerous to be an activist, and not just for the reasons you think. As if facing arrest and police dogs wasn’t enough, IN THESE TIMES reports that the tear gas and pepper spray sometimes used for crowd control can cause more than lung-rending coughs and burning eyes.

The use of both chemicals on peaceful WTO protesters in Seattle turned attention to the possible damage they can cause. Military and other studies have suggested serious health dangers from exposure, both short-term (respiratory arrest, elevated blood pressure) and long-term (cancer and birth defects), but there’s no government agency that checks to make sure that these agents are safe, leaving police to rely on manufacturers’ claims.

Nobody’s questioning that when a belligerent suspect needs to be subdued, a blast of pepper spray is less hazardous to his health than, say, a bullet. But peaceful crowds engaging in a little friendly civil disobedience, the story argues, deserve better treatment.

Read the IN THESE TIMES story here.

PS

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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