Tear gas is a right PITA. Not only does get into your lungs, causing inability to breathe etc, it’s also a skin irritant, to make any contaminated skin experience pain on the discomfort spectrum. Lips, mouth, nostrils and nose, all mucous membranes will hurt. So how’s a standard protestor (or revolutionary) supposed to evade this shite?
The simple answer is: you can’t evade it (unless you’re an armchair revolutionary). You have to accept the possible dangers, and hopefully find a work-around.
A full NBC suit would be cool. Except they’re not easy to find, they’re expensive, and if you turn up at a demo wearing one the snatch landrovers will target you. So, you need a covert “NBC” outfit.
- DO NOT PANIC! Everyone’s gonna be freaked out, blindly running in all directions trying to find a way out of their personal hell. But you are (somewhat) protected (if you take this guide seriously) so you’re not blind, not panicking (much), everything’s cool so far as you’re concerned (if you’ve taken this guide seriously – FFS take it seriously!).
- A gas mask (aka “respirator”) will be the best kit to get. But they’re not cheap, and by wearing one you are marking yourself as a “ring-leader” or some such shit. Not so bad if you’re wearing a fully accredited press card… the the cops will be busting skulls first, examinating press ID later. So maybe the respirator will be a problem. Also, independent bloggers don’t qualify for pass cards. The world is still playing catch-up with the world of tech. Stupid world.
If you already have a gas mask, make sure it is working properly and is correctly fitted. Any masks purchased online or in military surplus stores should be checked by an expert to ensure they work correctly.
The next best thing after a gas mask is an escape hood, which is cheaper and is not subject to the same export rules.
You can also use a builder’s respirator that covers your nose and mouth – but make sure that you use appropriate filters. Failing that, a dust mask for DIY and building and airtight goggles will provide some degree of protection
- Tight-fitting, water-tight swimming goggles will help protect your eyes. But you’d be best advised to buy them by the box: tear gas will eat away at them, so if you do end up having to use them, get rid of them and find replacements for the next time…
- DON’T use oil-based creams, sunscreens and make-up; they also absorb tear gas, so avoid wearing these when covering protests where it might be used.
- Carry a large bandana and a bottle of vinegar. Soak the bandanna in vinegar before putting it over your nose and mouth to breathe. The combination (although not ‘neutralizing’) will act as a filter to some extent, better than nothing.
- Wear long-sleeved tops rather than t-shirts, trousers instead of shorts. Basically, keep exposed skin to a minimum, as tear gas likes fucking with exposed skin.
- Get upwind or escape to high ground (like a hill or building roof top) – The gas stays low to the ground and high ground may be gas-free.
To write this blog post, I used the following webpages to help in my research:
Check out these sites, I’m sure they’re full of handy hints for the would-be civil disobedient-type.
More on the issue of bloggers and press passes. It’s next-to-impossible for a blogger to get a press pass, but there nay be ways around this problem. I’ve thought of one possible solution, if anyone else has an idea please post it up in Comments.
My off-the-top-of-the-head plan: give “respectable” news producers some great footage. You can get really high-quality AV equipment relatively cheaply nowadays, and if you offer (not for free, I think) “first use” rights to a news organization, they may at a later time be more amenable to giving you that oh-so-useful pass. Video important clashes between police and activists, probably focusing on the poor down-trodden folk; interviews with those whose lives have been destroyed by the state. Stay clear of those “benefits claimants are scroungers let’s kill em all” type shows, maybe focus on BBC News and ITN (producers of Channel 4 News), maybe papers if you trust them (bear in mind that the Guardian have become more and more like govt stooges lately…). If you provide a channel with front-line coverage, maybe that channel will give you a press pass. A passport for Sodom and Gomorrah! My advice: do it! A reach-around now may give you unfettered access to everything later. Power to you, dude/dudette!