For several days, downtown Kalamazoo was alive with the winds of change. Hundreds of protesters gathered to voice their dismay over the wrongful death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, as well as so many other black lives lost needlessly to police brutality, and society looking the other way.

It was a peaceful protest. The crowds shouted and chanted. They waved Black Lives Matter placards. Emotions were high as protesters and police officers met eye to eye. Some knelt with their hands over their heads. Some stood stoic, unmoved. That is, at least, until the curfew was enforced and members of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.

I have rewatched countless pieces of footage from the several days of protests. Was a chemical agent really necessary? According to the Geneva Convention, tear gas is a banned chemical weapon, so if it's clearly not okay to use during war on an enemy, how is it okay to use it on civilians exercising their First Amendment right to peaceful assembly?

According to an article from MLive, an investigation has begun to look into the conduct of the KDPS regarding the days of protests. I'd be interested to know what alternative solutions they could have employed instead of treating the protesters like a howling mob outfitted with pitchforks and torches. I understand wanting to keep vandalism under control, but looters and protesters are two very different groups of people and no good comes from gassing anyone using their voice to bring to light systemic inequity that has gone on too long.

Everyone wanted to know what it was all about; what could you possibly accomplish from protesting. Well, I'd say things have settled down since Derek Chauvin's charges were upgraded to second-degree murder. But this fight is a marathon, not a sprint. And I'm laced up.

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