Desperate for some Tear Gas Video? I have you covered!

Man, tonight was just lots and lots of tear gas. They did so many small gassings, many of which were down the block from me and hardly affected me at all. The more I experience tear gas from even a small distance away, the more I realize that how incredibly fucked up I was on Tuesday night was because I was clearly sucking in a super-heavy dose. On Tuesday I remember 3 tear gas canisters around me, all very close, none farther than 5 meters away for sure, and I don’t think any of them were even 3 meters, but I was in shock from the flash bang, so I’m saying less than 5 meters just to be safe. But here’s the thing, I had my eyes mostly closed after that until I was just over a block away, but when I would open them for a moment to try to plan a safe path to walk with my eyes closed, I was still in a fog of tear gas for a good 3/4 of the way through the park. I had previously reported that they had kept the tear gas close to the courthouse on Tuesday night’s 1st offensive, but tonight I was upwind of the tear gas and could remain longer and watch more closely. The tear gas from a single canister just isn’t that dense 30 feet/ 8-9 meters away from the canister. It’s a very, very light mist . except sometimes when the wind moves the cloud more or less intact. It’s still only maybe a 3 meter diameter of intense smoke, but sometimes that 3 meter bunch moves more-or-less intact on the wind instead of being stretched and thinned.

All of this is to say, either the wind was exactly fucking wrong and keeping me in the cloud the whole time I was moving or, and more likely, they fired a HELL OF A LOT more tear gas on that first Tuesday night offensive than I realized at the time. (Being deaf from a flash-bang and keeping your eyes closed can make it hard to keep track of these things.) Tonight the tear gas got bad enough for me to have to walk away several times, but I was always good to go in less than 10 minutes, and usually less than 5. Just walk to the end of the block, take some fresh air in, and by the time you head back in the air is already3/4 clear and all you have to worry about is keeping your eyes clear of tears enough to be able to see – your breathing is irritated rather than inhibited by that point. I know I was one of the last or the last one to leave the gas cloud on Tuesday, because of my slow crutch-walking and stopping to try to retrieve my glasses (which I  did not successfully do) after a flash-bang startled me and my sudden head motion flipped them off my face. Judging by what I could see being upwind for once, my severe symptoms clearly had something to do with a very large dose over a good couple minutes, maybe as many as 5.

But fuck that, my writing is so disjointed right now. i was going to introduce tonight’s first tear gas video and then take some time to get in a calm headspace before actually trying to write. But my headspace is so chaotic, I couldn’t even follow that plan.

So here it is, have a tear gas video, I’m going to have a shower, some scotch, and some cold pizza and then try to calm myself a bit before writing again:

Oh yeah, one more thing: You’ll notice that there were no warnings before the gas was fired. We got warnings the night Mayor Ted Wheeler was here. But no warning the nights before or the nights after. Why is that, do you think?



  1. says

    Thank you for continuing to do all this.

    I’m using your reporting, in part, to help those of us in Cleveland preparing for our own coming occupation.

    Jeff Hess
    Have Coffee Will Write

  2. StevoR says

    Thankyou Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden. You are very definitely NOT a wimp. Respect.

    Incidentally I saw something somewhere online (sorry a few days agao & can’t quite remember where.) about protestors using leafblowers to blow the tear ags back in cops & other assorted henchmen of evils faces here. Have you heard / seen that? Any thoughts on that counter-measure?

  3. says

    @StevoR (and hopefully for the benefit of @hyphenman’s Cleveland group)

    The leaf blowers are not at all helpful if there’s any significant breeze. They can only blow a very narrow beam-shape. If aimed just above the tear gas canister, they create a separation between where the canister is and where the eventual cloud forms – sometimes as much as 8-10 feet/ 3 meters away, but usually less, if what I saw was any indication.

    The problem is that at that point, the general air movement due to weather is going to push the cloud in the direction it wants to push the cloud. If the cops (or whoever is using tear gas in whatever scenario you’re worried about) are stupid enough to put the tear gas downwind of you, it will blow away from the crowd and not affect you much. But if they’re stupid enough to put it downwind of you, you can walk 8-10 feet away from the canister and then get exactly the same effect you got with the leaf blower.

    If they put it upwind of you, it briefly delays the effects, but the breeze is still going to carry it to the protesters.

    In short, it’s more a delaying tactic than anything else, though if you have multiple leaf blowers per tear gas canister you can quickly change the direction of the air flowing over the tear gas canister and create a lot of smaller clouds rather than one big (albeit moved) cloud. This encourages dispersal, but this shit is still very uncomfortable at 50-60′ away from a canister. Most people who are exposed and don’t have breathing and eye protection are going to want to be more than 100′ away. I’m not exactly sure, but I suspect that in an area with a single canister, this multiple leaf blower tactic will encourage dissipation to levels that are annoying but tolerable at closer than 100′, meaning the crowd doesn’t have to back off as far. But if they’re laying down a bunch of canisters, then you’ve got a LOT of people and I just don’t know how effective it would be. The unprotected people are still going to back off, and the cloud thins almost to invisibility at 100′ anyway … and yet still manages to affect you enough to be irritating. Would they back off less than 100′? Would that matter?

    But then on top of all that, if they want to arrest people, those with leaf-blowers would seem an easy target. They can argue that you came there specifically to disrupt cops ability to … whatever. And probably charge you with riot, using the leaf-blower as evidence on the basis that you’re planning on defeating the gas, and they were only planning on using gas in case of a riot, therefore you were planning on rioting.

    So here’s what I would say, in addition to rioting being bad (for your city and yourself) and leaf-blowers being cumbersome and expensive, water is better. Water has a million uses other than dousing tear gas canisters and so is less likely to get you in trouble with the cops. Water will cool down the canister to the point where the canister simply doesn’t release all its toxic smoke, which is probably even better than simply shifting the cloud a bit. Less smoke in the air means they have to use more canisters to get the same effect, and probably does a better job of allowing unprotected folks to remain close.

    Individually the best tactic is just to have good breathing and eye protection, like professional painters might have. Collectively, when wanting to defend the health of people who don’t have access to that sort of thing, the Hong Kong tactic of dropping a traffic cone over the canister and then pouring water down the little hole at the top is probably the gold standard strategy for preventing injury to protestors, especially if there are already traffic cones spread around by the city.

    But also, you know what? The most emotionally powerful moments of the protest for me have been surging back into the spaces that were just tear gassed. You back off and it’s like they’ve driven you off, but then the gas disperses and you walk right back in. There’s an ebb and flow to it that comes to seem as inevitable as the tide. They try to drive you off, and for a short time they succeed, but being driven off and then coming right back is this powerful statement all of its own that can’t be duplicated just by remaining. Sure, it’s fun to think the authoritarians are ineffective at their own violence, but it’s actually more powerful to realize that even when they are unimpeded in their ability to inflict violence, they just aren’t getting any closer to winning.

    Think about it this way: what’s going viral, images of people with homemade shields and bike helmets ignoring getting hit or NavyGuy getting actually hit and then telling the media that yeah, he’s going to need surgery but he’s coming the fuck back to the protests anyway?

    It’s NavyGuy, every time. Now, I’m not saying that I want people to get hurt, I’m just saying that there’s something humanly powerful about letting their violence happen – in this case letting their tear gas pollute the air and affect the people – and then realize that so long as people are either protected with masks or walk away quickly, they can be back at the front lines within a few minutes. I can’t even explain the why of it to you, the psychology of it to you, but capping a tear gas canister or extinguishing it will get a laugh from the crowd that’s quickly forgotten while 500 people closing back in on the territory that was gassed 6 minutes before creates a determination and sense of inevitable victory that keeps the crowd fired up not only for the night, but fired up in a way that makes them more likely to come back tomorrow.

    So if your collective response to the tear gas is simply to walk away and walk back, I’d say that’s better than leaf blowers and except where they’re using a TON of tear gas, probably even better than dousing the canisters with water.

    In the meantime, though, get PLENTY of eyewash. That shit is dead useful.

  4. says

    US using chemical weapons en masse against its own citizens. I am afraid this is not the end. The very fact that the police have enough people to obey these orders is terrifying and in itself a sign that this will not end well (or soon).

    After Trump he was elected, I made a prediction on how he will proceed. And I think we are now into steps 4 and 5 in that prediction. Step 3 is of course in the works all the time, via voter register purges, gerrymandering and now the opposition to vote by mail.

  5. johnson catman says

    Charly, you were very prescient indeed! Do you, by chance, know what the winning Powerball (lottery) numbers will be tonight? 😉
    Crip Dyke: Your reporting and analysis is truly important. I have been coming here every day to get the inside info about what is going on there. I appreciate it, and I am sure I am not alone in that appreciation.

  6. says

    @TGAP Dad

    I haven’t seen anything like that at the protests. The protests are fairly big, but that seems like it would be stationary, and if it is I would have eventually seen it.

    So… I’m guessing not? I imagine that if you got them up and going for a bit they would eventually create a steady airflow, but if you placed the north or south, you would largely send it towards protestors at the other end of the building.

    And, as I said earlier, I’m not particularly looking for the most amazing way to perfectly neutralize their violence and tear gas. I’m glad that fewer people are getting hurt than was the case before the improved fence, but that surge back into the space that had only moments before been filled with tear gas is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. It’s heartening to the people there, and I imagine it’s disheartening to the feds.

    So long as people aren’t actually getting injured, I think that the public will also be more inspired by bravery than technological ingenuity.

    Still, if the organizers decide to go this route, I’ll definitely report on it.

  7. Ridana says

    Did you bring an extra pair of glasses? O.O How are you seeing to write your reports? Stay safe and keep reporting!

    I think your observations about the effects of the tidal resurgence on both the protesters and the occupiers are spot on, and not something that people tend to think about.

    I’m weirdly reminded of lines from a poem a friend of mine wrote decades ago in high school:
    They are caught among the shells and by the swells
    Of silver foam that splatters down around their feet
    And carries back in its retreat
    The sand which once formed mainland.
    And left is foam.

    Stay foamy! lol

  8. says

    Did you bring an extra pair of glasses? O.O How are you seeing to write your reports?

    No, didn’t bring an extra pair (didn’t have an extra pair, actually), but I often work on my computer without glasses so that the kitties don’t try to play with them while they’re still on my face and I’m trying to work.

    I’ve gotten used to just embiggening the text and that works fairly well. I’ve also got a new pair of reading classes (non-corrective, just magnifying) that help further. I might struggle a bit if I were going to handwrite on paper, but on a computer reading and writing are both working fine.

    Stay safe and keep reporting!

    Thanks! and thank you for the poem as well.

  9. StevoR says

    Thanks for that info in #3 Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden ; That all makes sense.

    @1. hyphenman :Good luck, best wishes and more power to you here.

  10. TGAP Dad says

    I have a tip for the leaf-blower toters: rather than trying only to blow the teargas back to the police, have some leaf blowers set up as vacuums. When a canister lands, drop the vacuum tube on it, and blow ALL the teargas back to the police. Much more effective than simply blowing at a cloud of gas, which scatters it in a pie slice-shaped pattern away from the blower nozzle.

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