A Bournemouth University academic has created a guide on US riot control to help journalists report accurately and identify inappropriate use.
Associate Professor in Communication and Digital Media, and expert on tear gas and riot control tactics, Dr Anna Feigenbaum has written a guide for journalists in the United States to use when reporting on riot control measures.
Dr Feigenbaum is a leading researcher in the field of tear gas and civic protest and is author of the book Tear Gas: From the Battlefields of World War I to the Streets of Today and co-author of Protest Camps.
The free resource will allow journalists to understand the full use of riot control measures in the United States including its historical context and will allow journalists to better understand when police are using riot control inappropriately or aggressively.
Dr Feigenbaum said: “Protocols for the police use of force are meant to regulate how tear gas and other riot control devices are used against civilians to help keep everyone as safe as possible. However, there is a lot of footage coming through that does not appear to follow these protocols. For example, tear gas canisters are being fired at close range, directly at protesters and in enclosed spaces.”
The guide includes a history of riot control in the United States starting with the introduction of tear gas in World War I and includes a list of the main manufacturers of riot control in the United States. The guide explains what tear gas is and details the effects that it has when used on people. Dr Feigenbaum also covers the protocols for how riot control measures should be used and the dangers that they pose when used improperly.
Dr Feigenbaum put the resource together with the assistance of the Omega Research Foundation in response to the extensive use of riot control in the US by police during the Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of George Floyd. She has been contacted by many journalists in the US looking to understand the context around the use of tear gas. As the protests continue, and as journalists continue to also be targeted by tear gas and riot control, Dr Feigenbaum hopes that her guide will allow journalists to accurately report on this subject.
Dr Feigenbaum said: “Knowing how to understand and identify riot control technologies can help journalists report potential use of force abuses and identify manufacturer and country of origin of these devices.”
Dr Feigenbaum also contributed her expertise on tear gas to Amnesty International's Tear Gas platform. The recently released platform has had a strong response from the Human Rights community. Agnès Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial executions, has said that it is: 'A much needed, excellent tool and contribution to the debate over police use of force and less-lethal weapons.'