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Friday, October 22, 2004

Lethal Non-lethal weapons

Boston cops shot a 21-year-old Red Sox fan in the eye with a pepper ball. She had been celebrating the Red Sox' playoff victory of the Yankees Wednesday night. She died in the hospital later in the day. The Boston Police Department accepts full responsibility, whatever that means. While there had been some minor vandalism associated with the celebrations, CNN reports that videos where the shooting occurred showed no violence or vandalism occurring in the vicinity.

I'm surely no expert, and this paragraph is all speculation, but imagine the nightmare for the doctors and nurses in the emergency room. A patient comes in with a severe eye wound. You want to save her life, her eye, and her brain. But not only is the wound messy, it is oozing with pepper spray, probably causing enormous pain and inflamation to the patient, and making it difficult for doctors and nurses to breathe and see as well. I suspect that working under these conditions caused them to work much more slowly than they would have if she had been hit in the eye with a similar but non-toxic projectile, like a golf ball. Not only did it cost her her life, but it may have affected other patients in the ER as well. More personnel were tied up longer because of the chemical weaponry, and pity the unlucky person who came in to the ER with an asthma attack.

Pepper bullets are chemical weapons, they are lethal, and they should be banned. The fascist reaction of police forces around the country following the anti-globalization protests in Seattle in 1999 (in which much of the trouble was apparently caused by agents provacateurs) has manifested itself at the political conventions in 2000 and 2004, at the FTAA protests in Miami last year, and just about anywhere aWol goes this year. Somehow we need to reign in the trigger-happy cops and the fascists in Washington who aid and abet them. A life is worth a lot more than a few Starbucks' windows.