Police Using Rubber Bullets On Protesters That Can Kill, Blind, Or Maim For Life

June 4, 2020 by Christen Aldrich

Filed under For Employers, For the Workforce

Last modified June 5, 2020

Kaiser Health News discusses the protests occurring around the country in this article, all while highlighting the dangerous mechanisms used by police in attempts to tame the crowds. A major concern is that rubber bullets are being fired, even though five decades of evidence show such weapons can disable, disfigure and even kill.

In addition to rubber bullets — which often have a metal core — police have used tear gas, flash-bang grenades, pepper spray gas and projectiles to control crowds of demonstrators demanding justice for George Floyd. The use by police of rubber bullets has provoked outrage, as graphic images have flashed on social media showing people who have lost an eye or suffered other injuries after being hit.

study published in 2017 in the BMJ found that 3% of people hit by rubber bullets died of the injury. Fifteen percent of the 1,984 people studied were permanently injured by the rubber bullets, also known as “kinetic impact projectiles.”

“Shooting them into open crowds is reckless and dangerous,” said Dr. Douglas Lazzaro, a professor and expert in eye trauma at NYU Langone Health. When fired at close range, rubber bullets can penetrate the skin, break bones, fracture the skull and explode the eyeball, he said. Rubber bullets can cause traumatic brain injuries and “serious abdominal injury, including injuries to the spleen and bowel along with major blood vessels,” said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician in New York City and a spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Physicians for Human Rights, a nonprofit advocacy group based in New York, has called for rubber bullets to be banned.

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