Researchers Find That ‘Less Lethal’ Measures Deployed by Police During George Floyd Protests Weren’t ‘Appropriate for Crowd Control’

Joe Jurado
·2 min read

After reviewing hospitalization records related to last year’s George Floyd protests, researchers have found that many people suffered serious injuries as a result of “less lethal” measures utilized by the police.

Which, uh, yeah. We know.

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According to CNN, researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School published their findings in a letter to the editor in the New England Journal of Medicine. They found that many serious injuries—including traumatic brain injuries—stemmed from the use of “less lethal” projectiles such as rubber bullets and beanbags.

“Although less-lethal weapons are designed as an alternative to lethal weapons, we found a substantial number of patients with serious injuries, including many injuries to the head, neck, and face,” the researchers wrote.

I’m sure you don’t need to be reminded, but protests erupted all around the country last year after a cell phone video of George Floyd being killed while in police custody went viral. Unlike the riot we saw last week, the majority of these protests were peaceful. Granted, that didn’t stop police officers from firing rubber bullets and deploying tear gas on those who were simply arguing that police shouldn’t kill unarmed Black people.

It was not uncommon last summer to open Twitter only to see videos or pictures of people with bloody wounds or milk on their faces as a result of being struck with rubber bullets or sprayed with tear gas. A report from the Wall Street Journal notes that many people suffered eye injuries after being struck with rubber bullets, with most either losing their eye or suffering from some level of permanent vision loss.

In fact, in their letter, the researchers noted that “United Nations guidelines state that these weapons should only be aimed directly at the extremities and that hits to the head, neck, and face are potentially unlawful.”

The researchers focused their efforts on two medical systems in Minnesota and combed through the records of patients who were seen between May 26 and June 15. They targeted records that contained the words “riot,” “tear gas,” and other words that signaled a relation to the protests. Their search ultimately brought up 89 medical records that fit the established criteria, with examination of those records revealing that 51 percent of the injuries were from projectiles, 36 percent from chemical irritants, and 13 percent involved both.

Seven of the patients needed to undergo surgery as a result of their injuries, with an additional 16 suffering from traumatic brain injuries. The researchers noted that their findings are only representative of the people who were actually able to seek treatment.

I know that this may come as a shock, but the researchers ultimately found “that under current practices, projectiles are not appropriate for crowd control.”

So striking people in the face with high-speed projectiles is not the move. Whoever would’ve guessed that?