Protests over police brutality in the wake of the death of George Floyd have sprung up in each state and all around the world. Police in some areas have been using tear gas on protesters and some public health experts have spoken out against its use in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
An open letter that started at the University of Washington that was created with Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at UC San Francisco says tear gas is dangerous to use during the pandemic, because it could, “increase risk for COVID-19 by making the respiratory tract more susceptible to infection, exacerbating existing inflammation, and inducing coughing.” 1,288 public health professionals have signed the letter.
Because COVID-19 is a highly contagious respiratory illness, experts worry that exacerbating the lungs of protestors could have ill effects. David Eisenman, UCLA professor of medicine and public health told LAist, “During this time when we’re protesting police brutality, the use of tear gas is causing more harm in the way of spreading COVID. There is some culpability on the police for using this method, which increases the sneezing and increases the coughing and therefore increases the spread.”
Public health issues of racism and coronavirus are also linked.The letter also points out that white supremacy contributes to COVID-19, where black people are more likely to develop COVID-19, are diagnosed later, have higher rates of hospitalizations and death. The experts acknowledge that the protests are “as vital to the national public health and to the threatened health specifically of Black people in the United States.”
Read all our coverage on the protests against racism in One Green Planet:
- #BlackLivesMatter: 10 Inspiring Black Voices Diversifying the Environmental Movement
- #BlackLivesMatter: Protests Against Police Brutality Continue in Full Force Across the Country
- #BlackLivesMatter: Killing Black Americans is a Public Health and Human Rights Crisis
- #BlackLivesMatter: Black Climate Activists Share their Struggles Amid Protests
- #BlackLivesMatter: George Floyd’s Memorial Service and Updates on Other Cases
Here’s what you can do:
Also, remember to register to vote if you haven’t already. This is one of the simplest ways to make your voice heard as a citizen.Here are some resources for you:
Places to donate:
- Donate to Black Lives Matter here.
- Get involved with your local BLM chapter: The full list is here or start your own.
- Many protestors are getting arrested and being held. Donate to bail funds in your city, here or here.
- HBCUBuzz has a listing of lawyers and legal resources for protestors, organized by state.
- Resources and donations by the National Police Accountability Project.
- Learn about Campaign Zero, which works to end police violence in America.
- The New York Times has put together an anti-racist reading list.
- National Black Bailout Fund, which works towards ending systems of mass incarceration and freeing imprisoned black mothers.
- Visit Louisville Community Bail Fund to contribute towards bail for protesters in Louisville.
Petitions to Sign:
- Justice for George Floyd
- Petition to end medical racism
- Justice for Breonna Taylor
- Justice for Ahmaud Arbery
- Justice for Tony McDade, Black trans man killed by police
- Sign the “Justice for George Floyd” petition on Change.org
- Color of Change launched a petition asking that all the officers involved in Floyd’s death are brought to justice.
For a more extensive resource list, please see the collection put together by Black Lives Matter.
Through this grief and anger, we must unite and work together to create the change we want to see. Let’s make sure no black child has to ever say these heartbreaking words ever again.
If you’re attending a protest, please be safe and careful and maintain social distancing, if possible. Check out our founder’s articles on #BlackLivesMatter: Killing Black Americans is a Public Health and Human Rights Crisis and 10 Inspiring Black Voices Diversifying the Environmental Movement.