Arabs send US demonstrators advice on how to protest safely amid Black Lives Matter uprising

Arabs send US demonstrators advice on how to protest safely amid Black Lives Matter uprising
Across the world Arabs are sending messages of support to American protesters coming out to demonstrate police brutality and racism following the killing of African American George Floyd.
4 min read
04 June, 2020
Arabs are advising American protesters [Getty]

Arabs across the world have taken to Twitter to send messages of support to #BlackLivesMatter protesters in the United States taking to the streets following the death of African-American George Floyd at the hands of white police officers.

Four police officers have been indicted for the killing, including Derek Chauvin, who was videoed with his knee on George Floyd’s neck as he begged for his life and said he “can’t breathe”. Chauvin was charged with second degree murder in Minneapolis.

The other three officers face counts of aiding and abetting murder in a case that has set the world on fire and ignited #BlackLivesMatter demonstrations across the world.

The majority of demonstrations in the US and the UK have been peaceful, with people coming out with boards reading “We Demand Justice Now” and “White Silence is Violence”.

However tear gas and rubber bullets are being deployed by police across the United States, and there have been a number of protesters killed in the weeks since the death of George Floyd, with many of those killed being African Americans.

Though protesters have been peaceful in recent days, Washington has deployed nearly 1,600 US soldiers, and Derrick Johnson, the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) wrote to the Guardian, saying:

“The expendability of Black lives is not a flaw in the system; it is the system. We are meant to die or, at the very least, we are not meant to be protected, to be respected, to be valued, to be considered fully human.”

Police have been firing rubber bullets into the crowds despite evidence that shows such weapons can disfigure and kill.

Flash-bang grenades, pepper spray gass and projectiles to control crowds of demonstrators are also being deployed in large numbers not only in the Minneapolis area but across the country, prompting peaceful protests to turn violent, with some smashing buildings and setting them on fire.

A reporter for KPCC was just one of many to share being hit with a rubber bullet online.

Taking to Twitter, he wrote: “I just got hit by a rubber bullet near the bottom of my throat. I had just interviewed a man with my phone at 3rd and Pine and a police officer aimed and shot me in the throat, I saw the bullet bounce onto the street.”

Palestinian Rana Nazzal joined the chorus of Middle East social media users sending support to US protesters, and shared her experience with tear gas on Twitter.

“[The] most dangerous teargas injury is being hit with the canister (when fired out of a gun). Like bullets, they can kill,” she wrote in a detailed Twitter thread, stressing that although she had some medical training, she was not a doctor.

“Unlike bullets, teargas travels slow enough to watch it coming so don’t turn & run when they start firing. Watch them shoot it & dodge. Move calmly upwind.”

Giving advice on what to do when you see a teargas cannister, she added: “If they're firing legally (angled up to the air so it arcs down) don't turn & run - watch it being shot so u can dodge.”

Sarah A, a Lebanese human rights writer created a guide called "From Beirut to Minneapolis" providing advice to US protesters on how to protect themselves, and what they should keep in their bag when protesting, including “ski goggles and cut inions to inhale if teargas gets on your face”.

“Wear helmets,” she went on to say, adding that it was important to have an exit strategy.

Another Twitter user who goes by “Lynn” and who had attended protests in Lebanon, tells Americans to “always have someone with you”.

Others are encouraging publications to cover the anti-government protests in the US with the correct terminology.

Reporter Reya El-Salahi wrote on Twitter: “Dear western journalists, remember how you covered the Arab Spring? With words like ‘anti-government protests’ and ‘pro democracy uprisings’.

“Not ‘riots’. The narrative you set to frame what’s happening in the US right now matters.”

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