The images are everywhere on the news; protesters, exercising their Constitutionally protected right to free speech, fleeing from clouds of tear gas thrown by the police. What we have seen protesters enduring in recent months has been downright inhumane. Setting aside the fact that protesters are being abused by law enforcement for no justifiable reason, the “riot control agents”–often referred to as tear gas–that the police are using on protesters, have been banned from international warfare by the Geneva Protocol since 1925. So why on earth do we still allow tear gas to be used on citizens by the very people who are meant to protect them?
Our government’s casual use of tear gas against peaceful protesters suggests that these chemicals are not being used to control “riots”—they are often used when there clearly is no riot—but instead to punish and discourage Constitutionally protected dissent.
What is a Riot Control Agent?