If U.S. police departments have actually bought this chemical weapon, this is a really bad move (boldface mine):
As protestors and police officers clash on the streets of Baltimore and other divided cities, some police departments are stockpiling a highly controversial weapon to control civil unrest.
It’s called Skunk, a type of “malodorant,” or in plainer language, a foul-smelling liquid. Technically nontoxic but incredibly disgusting, it has been described as a cross between “dead animal and human excrement.” Untreated, the smell lingers for weeks….
Now Mistral, a company out of Bethesda, Md., says they are providing it to police departments in the United States….
Mistral reps say Skunk, once deployed, can be “neutralized” with a special soap — and only with that soap. In another BBC video, an IDF spokesman describes how any attempt to wash it via regular means only exacerbates its effects. Six weeks after IDF forces used it against Palestinians at a security barrier, it still lingered in the air.
…what seems like a viable alternative to bullets in a war zone becomes more disturbing in the hands of domestic police forces, particularly those who have soured relations with the communities they serve….
To those who have been hit with Skunk, the experience is akin to being doused with “shit.” in the words of one Palestinian protester, “it makes you feel inhuman.”
…The spraying of feces agents on a crowd of U.S. citizens represents a tangible and absolute reinforcement of social division. There is no more complete way to dehumanize someone than to make that human repulsive to herself.
…It is not only a means of crowd control but also, potentially, a system for maintaining new apartheids.
It goes without saying that innocent people are going to get nailed with this stuff. Unlike tear gas, which wears off, they wouldn’t be able to go to work or otherwise get on with their lives, unless they first report to the authorities.
But it will really rile up someone who’s already pissed off. Might even prompt someone, in a country armed to the teeth, to escalate. Worse, it’s essentially a non-lethal form of collective punishment. That (further) delegitimizes law enforcement. If you already view law enforcement as an illegitimate system, the self-imposed barriers to avoid lethal violence–arguably the best protection police have–are even more likely disappear.
Any police chief who purchases this stuff should be fired.
Of course, you won’t hear the right talk about this, because they believe they’re the sort of people who wouldn’t ever be subjected to this. But, as Charles Pierce puts it, It’s Not About Race Because It’s Never About Race.