While police have utilized what they deem to be less-lethal ammunition, such as rubber bullets, a report published by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has revealed that more than 100 people have sustained serious injuries from these measures just this summer alone.
“Protests calling for justice and accountability for police violence have often been met with more police violence. From Los Angeles, CA to Little Rock, AR, demonstrators, and bystanders suffered fractured skulls, broken jaws, traumatic brain injuries and permanent vision loss from these inherently indiscriminate weapons,” research leader Rohini Haar, a medical adviser at PHR and adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health, explained in a statement. “The sheer scale and scope of the head injuries caused by kinetic impact projectiles across the country suggests that U.S. law enforcement has a systemic problem when it comes to abusing crowd-control weapons during protests. Even the laws on less-lethal weapons that do exist are not being followed.”
The group discovered at least 115 injuries from rubber bullets. However, given that they used what was only publicly available data for their research, such as lawsuits, social media, and news reports, it is likely that there are many more victims.
Apparently, serious harm from rubber bullets has been going unspoken about for years. A 2017 study that Haar co-authored discovered that 3 percent of people hit by the rubber projectiles were killed, and 15 percent were left with permanent injuries.
“Weapons are just as lethal as somebody wants them to be,” Haar said.
The researchers came up with several recommendations to remedy this growing crisis, including a ban on firearms that fire several projectiles from one canister as well as stricter guidelines for using such weapons.