Learning Machine

Tear Gas: Do Not Fire Directly At Person(s). Severe Injury Or Death May Result.

tear gas

February 18th, 2011

By Dean Puckett
Category:

 

What Tear Gas tells us about the world

I just found this silent yet fascinating Film in the Prelinger Archive. It shows a group of Police in what looks like the late 50′s early 60′s (there is no date on the film) being instructed on the various forms of tear gas equipment by a shady man in Black Sunglasses.

 

 Tear Gas Demo

The police officers begin by hurling cylindrical canisters of tear gas, observe their emissions, and then move on to shooting the potent chemical through the use of special launchers. A small house is selected as a target and is gradually riddled with holes as the triggers are pulled. The efficiency of the tear gas as a crowd dispersion tool is shown when a small group of men stand in the vicinity of the canisters and quickly scurry away as the vapours materialize.

 

Tear Gas, Made in USA

It has been widely reported in the media recently that the tear gas which was being used by police to disperse protesters in Cairo, Egypt was made in America.

The Labels on the the tear gas revealed that it was produced by Combined Systems International (CSI) of Jamestown, Pa.,

These “Made in the USA” canisters were reportedly first discovered when U.S. officials, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, called for the Egyptian government to not use violence against the protesters.

The United States has given Egypt an average of $2 billion annually since 1979, much of it military aid, according to the Congressional Research Service. The combined total makes Egypt the second largest recipient of U.S. aid after Israel. They also license the sale of American-made tear gas to be used by the Egyptian police, when the State Department itself has documented the police’s history of brutality.

A warning is printed on the side of the canisters which reads: “Danger: Do not fire directly at person(s). Severe injury or death may result.” this is apparently not always followed. Lucas Mebrouk Dolega died in Tunisia on January 17 2011, three days after being hit by a tear gas grenade at close range. The 32-year-old was a photographer for the European PressPhoto Agency.

Interestingly CSI’s brand of tear gas is also purchased by Israel, The largest recipient of U.S aid.

The Israeli military fired CSI’s tear gas at a December 31 (2010) demonstration in the Israeli-occupied West Bank village of Bil’in. A day after inhaling tear gas there, one protester, Jawaher Abu Rahmah, 37, died of cardiac arrest. In April (2009) , her brother Bassem was also killed by tear gas.

The tear gas that killed both siblings was manufactured by CSI which ironically markets its products under the website: www.less-lethal.com. Cold comfort for the grieving Abu Rahmah family.

 “This death was caused by their brutality, by the fact that they are using tear gas that was banned in Europe in the ’60s and ’70s because it is lethal. But here, on Palestinians, they continue using it,” Jonathan Pollak, an Israeli activist who took part in the Bil’in protest, told Democracy Now after Rahmah’s death.

From 2000-2008, the State Department authorized the transfer to Israel of more than 400,000 tear gas canisters and other “riot control” equipment valued at $19.5 million, which was paid for by U.S. taxpayers as part of their annual multi-billion dollar appropriation of military aid to Israel.

In addition to the deaths of Bassem and Jawaher Abu Rahmah, Israel also killed two Palestinian civilians with tear gas in 2002, and severely injured with CSI-provided tear gas canisters two U.S. citizens – Tristan Anderson and Emily Henochowicz — who participated in nonviolent Palestinian demonstrations. The former suffered brain damage, the latter lost an eye.

Although the Obama administration has not yet released comparable data from its first two years in office, there is no indication that the transfer of tear gas to Israel has slowed

President Obama told a Cairo audience in 2009 that America would unequivocally back Egyptians’ democratic aspirations. Citing our nation’s history being “born out of revolution against an empire,” he said: “We will support (democracy) everywhere.”  So a tiny canister of tear gas shows us something far bigger. It shows us  the emptiness of these words and US foreign Policy Rhetoric. “We support Democracy but we also support repressive regimes.” I know. It’s complicated.

 

Dean Puckett is Director and Producer of The Crisis of Civilization and concerned citizen of Great Britain.

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