Cleveland Police Used These Launchable Chemical Grenades at Saturday Protest

click to enlarge Cleveland Police Used These Launchable Chemical Grenades at Saturday Protest
Courtesy: @thresholdevent, Twitter
Among the munitions that Cleveland Police officers used Saturday afternoon were launchable "Spede-Heat" chemical grenades that discharge a payload of gaseous chemicals and cause severe burning in the eyes, nose and chest for 10-20 minutes to those exposed.

Without appropriate warning, police began launching these grenades while also shooting pepper spray, flashbang grenades, wooden bullets and pepper balls into a crowd of demonstrators at the Cuyahoga County Justice Center Saturday afternoon.

Cory Shaffer, at cleveland.com, published a story Wednesday morning with testimony from legal observers that correspond with our in-person observations: To the extent police gave dispersal orders before the use of munitions, they were largely, (if not entirely), unheard.

Police claim they ordered the crowd to disperse, but they did so in ways that the crowd of several thousand people could not possibly have registered.

"Video recorded by cleveland.com shows an incident commander reading what appears to be a dispersal order into a bullhorn as she approached the crowd with officers in riot gear in tow," Shaffer wrote. "The commander was around a corner and behind the crowd that was chanting loudly in the opposite direction, the video showed. The commander’s order could barely be heard over the crowd and the constant honking of car horns in the video."

An attendee snapped a photo of a discharged Spede-Heate canister and sent it to Scene. These canisters were launched deep into the crowd of peaceful protesters on Lakeside Avenue and into the park across from the Justice Center. They were launched both from the steps of the Justice Center and from the roof of the building.

The discharge of the yellow-greenish gas created a frenzied atmosphere that exacerbated tension and hostility between protesters and the police. In some cases, protesters successfully doused the canisters with water and covered them with five-gallon buckets or traffic cones to prevent the discharge of the chemicals. 

Via the Spede-Heat first aid fact sheet , the active chemical agent causes "major discomfort" for 10 to 20 minutes to those exposed. ("If major discomfort persists," the manufacturer warns, "contact EMS.") Burning sensation in the eyes, nose and skin, heavy flow of tears, nasal discharge, blisters in extreme cases, coughing, the sensation of shortness of breath, tightness in the chest and feelings of panic are all intended effects.

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About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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