Much more to come later. Got home at 1;30 am and set some water heating for tea. Desperately needed to take a shower and get the tear gas off my skin.
It was a mostly safe night, though I got knocked down in a panic from a nearby flash-bang and several tear gas grenades/ canisters/ thingies going off at once. I honestly don’t know who knocked me down, but there were several people that bumped into me nearly simultaneously and one kicked one of my crutches out from under me. The other crutch went as soon as my weight was no longer directly over it and a different person bumped into the now-unstable crutch. I actually fell onto the backpack of someone in front of me and they slowed my fall (fortunately they also didn’t hit the ground). On the way down I got kneed in the left side, more or less. It was right next to the kidney right where my side meets my back. While on my knees I couldn’t gather my crutches and someone stepped on my heel. As my toes were pointed it couldn’t drive them into the ground, so I felt lucky not to break a toe. Almost immediately 3-4 generous people were helping to pick me up. I think one of them was the person who stepped on my heel, but I don’t really know for sure.
None of this resulted in any significant injury, please don’t worry about me, but it did mean that I was stuck in the tear gas for longer than I would like. I thought I had started recording right away, right about the time people started bumping into me and before the fall, but there’s no video. I must have missed the button. (Unfortunately, i was not recording as those tear gas canisters went off, because I was reviewing some other footage.)
Although this is a lot of stuff, it doesn’t actually take that long before I’m across the street and standing on the sidewalk with enough room around me to get the phone out of my pocket. That was maybe 10 seconds or so? 15? after I’m helped up. Since it only took a couple seconds to get knocked down, that means I was finished getting back to my feet in something like 5-10, so total time before I make it across the street and start paying attention to the camera was definitely less than 30 seconds, maybe as short as 15. With my head just clear enough to think about documentation, I pull the camera from my pocket, thinking it would be still recording. But when I can see it, it’s definitely not recording. So I start a new video of the chaos I’m in, but I’m a bit disoriented and I film the whole thing with the camera turned the wrong way, so the footage starts pointing at the ground and as soon as it’s recording anything interesting, it is sideways. (Here is my abject apology to my BFF for teasing her about holding the camera vertically when she recorded a major gas attack Tuesday night.)
The video reflects the chaos of the moment, and it’s a bit odd in its orientation, but if you want to watch a sideways video of the tear gas and flash bang mayhem, here it is:
Let me also add that the cops seemed like they were in a mean mood. The lights were off on the portico almost the whole time and there was no “one or two canister warning shot” of tear gas the way that we’ve gotten on other nights. The very first tear gas grenades were launched as part of an offensive, catching people by surprise, with the flash bangs heightening the fear and disorientation.
In my opinion, the cops couldn’t possibly have know that they wouldn’t startle and panic people. So unless they’re less competent than i can imagine, they intended to start a panicked stampede. Since at least the supervisors have to know that panicked stampedes hurt people, I regretfully conclude that the supervisors and perhaps the line cops as well intended for injuries like mine to happen.
Fortunately, as I’ve said, my injuries are minor. What affected me far more than a knee to the side or a stepped-on foot was the excess gas from being unable to escape.
I’ll give you more as I can, but my next reporting will have to wait until I’ve had my tea and my shower.
My skin is on fucking fire.