Police in Grand Rapids, Michigan have opened an internal investigation after a viral video showed officers attacking a man with mace and tear gas at a protest against police violence.
Footage of the incident, which has been viewed nearly 5 million times on Twitter alone, shows the man walking towards a line of police with both his hands apparently empty.
An officer wearing riot gear approaches him calmly, then sprays him with mace; after he recoils, another officer fires a canister of tear gas into his face.
The video, which was shot at a protest at the weekend, emerged along with widely-shared footage from Seattle showing police unleashing tear gas and flash-bang grenades on non-violent crowds, including after one group of people chanted “don’t shoot”.
Grand Rapids and Seattle have both seen days of protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who was killed by a white police officer kneeling on his neck for several minutes even as he repeatedly told him “I can’t breathe”.
Reacting to the video from Grand Rapids, local journalist Steve Bohner wrote that “the rioters aren’t the only ones who might need to be policed. And that is obvious in a video that depicts a GRPD officer firing a tear gas canister into a protester’s head at a range in which the shot could have been lethal.”
The sight of police and national guardsmen on the streets in full riot gear with military-grade equipment has helped rile up protesters who have already taken to the streets to protest police brutality, and curfews have now been imposed in various cities to try and bring down the scale and the intensity of the demonstrations.
Other incidents under investigation include the use of low-flying helicopters to disperse protesters in Washington, DC, where more than 3,000 national guard troops have now been deployed.
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