How Portland police blanketed parts of the city with toxic chemicals

By | April 17, 2023

The Guardian reports:

Investigators have created a 3D simulation of the Portland police bureau’s (PPB) extraordinary use of teargas during a major protest event on 2 June 2020.

Forensic Architecture (FA), a research agency that investigates human rights violations, worked with weapons experts to analyze hundreds of videos from that evening, along with internal police files, invoice records, manufacturer data and photos of teargas canisters. The analysis reveals that the city’s downtown was blanketed with gas at more than 50 times the level federal regulators consider “immediately dangerous to life or health”.

The findings, about the day local activists called Teargas Tuesday, forcefully contradict the department’s assertions in internal reports at the time, in which officers defended their “heroic actions”, saying police showed “extreme restraint”, “observed no injuries” from the spraying and used teargas to target specific individuals.

The model is the first of its kind to calculate the chemical concentrations in the air and deposits on the ground during a major teargas event in the US. It builds on existing reports and litigation alleging the months-long teargas use during the summer of protests caused severe injurieslong-term health problemsmenstrual irregularities and environmental hazards.

The research renews pressure on the scandal-ridden police department and raises significant public health and civil rights concerns at a time when law enforcement agencies in the US and across the globe are escalating their use of teargas on crowds, including against protesters for abortion rights and police accountability.

“Teargas is a form of violence that is formless and shapeless and to a certain extent invisible,” said Lola Conte, an advanced researcher with FA, which is based at Goldsmiths, University of London. “Visualizing allows us to understand the massive scale of the spread, and I hope this makes the harm unignorable and shows that something is failing on so many levels with the use of teargas.” [Continue reading…]