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CMEJ initiatives for safety, emergency preparedness, and healing 

Community Safety + Policing + Healing

This work is led by CMEJ members who have been in the direct line of police violence. We actively work to imagine a new vision for community health and safety.

 

Stop Police use of Tear Gas Campaign

Following the murder of Dante Wright by police in 2021, CMEJ members participated in community protests and were teargassed by state and other forces, despite a local City Council ban on its use. We purchased gas masks for frontline members and started a public pressure campaign to stop the use of chemical weapons by police. The chemicals used in tear gas were banned in warfare in 1925, reaffirmed by the UN Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993. The Centers for Disease Control states that tear gas exposure can lead to permanent physical damage. The American Thoracic Society recently called for a moratorium on tear gas. Exposure to tear gas increases the risk of respiratory infections – flu, pneumonia, etc. COVID exposure may be exacerbated by tear gas use.  

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Tear gas (airborne chemicals) used on community protesters that live in already over-polluted areas adds to the pollution burden of their bodies. This may result in more severe reactions or more detrimental reactions (compared to people who are not living in an Environmental Justice community). The impact of even small doses of a chemical agent such as tear gas on vulnerable populations such as children, pregnant women, and women of childbearing age (all which were present at the Brooklyn Center protests) could be even more severe.

The tear gas use in question was at protests in response to the murder of a young black man by the police. Chemicals were deployed on predominantly people of color protestors, adding to the environmental racism and health burden faced by people of color in the Twin Cities.

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