A summer of protests has resulted in over 100 people receiving head injuries from rubber bullets shot by police.
Physicians for Human Rights collected data using information from social media with verified photo and video proof, lawsuits, locally reported news, and other publicly available and credible sources to confirm the number. PHR identified at least 115 people shot in the head by rubber bullets and other kinetic impact projectiles (KIPs) from May through August in various cities.
KIPs are defined by the organization as including projectiles used for crowd control worldwide counting various bullets, baton rounds, and tear gas canisters, that are fired into crowds from a gun, rifle, or other launchers.
Although they are frequently referred to as less-lethal, an injury from many KIPs can result in life-threatening injury, permanent disability, and death PHR finds. The fired rounds commonly grouped together as rubber bullets can be made from combinations of rubber, wood, various metals, and more. They are not intended for head shots, PHR reports.
This, however, did not stop police officers from targeting protesters from the neck up during a season of protests sparked by the violent death of George Floyd.
“Protests calling for justice and accountability for police violence have often been met with more police violence,” said PHR research leader Rohini Haar in a statement, according to The Hill.
She continues “from Los Angeles, CA to Little Rock, AR, demonstrators, and bystanders suffered fractured skulls, broken jaws, traumatic brain injuries and permanent vision loss from these inherently indiscriminate weapons.”
Los Angeles, Portland Oregon, and Austin, Texas are identified in the research as locations where head injuries happened more frequently resulting from KIPs. TheGrio reports Insecure actor Kendrick Sampson described being shot at point-blank range with a rubber bullet by law enforcement while participating in a peaceful protest near Beverly Hills.
“Imma just let y’all know right now. None of these police cars were touched until they started hurting people,” Sampson said of the May 30 protests cited in PHR data.
PHR finds at least 12 people were hit in the head with KIPs in Los Angeles on May 30, six on May 31 in Austin, and at least 14 by the end of July in Portland. The organization also documents multiple head injuries in Michigan, Florida, and Colorado.
Haar says the use of KIPs by police officers in the United States indicates a larger problem.
“The sheer scale and scope of the head injuries caused by kinetic impact projectiles across the country suggests that U.S. law enforcement has a systemic problem when it comes to abusing crowd-control weapons during protests,” she said, according to The Hill.
The group, which shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, finds that police use of rubber bullets only escalates situations rather than controlling the crowd and suggests “we must ban the use of KIPs in crowd-control situations.”
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