A vandalized sign in the Eureka Target parking-lot the May 31 protest against police brutality. | Photo by Jen Kelly

How Non-Lethal are Less Lethal Weapons

Protestors injured by non-lethal weapons in Eureka following protests against police brutality.

Protestors injured by non-lethal weapons in Eureka following protests against police brutality.

On May 31 in Eureka a protest against police injustice ended late into the night with officers using pepper-spray projectiles to assist in the arrest of an individual suspected of vandalism. An additional protestor was arrested for attempting to prevent the first arrest.

Several protestors attempted to pull the individual out of police custody. This resulted in police firing on the rest of the crowd. Capt Brian Stevens of Eureka PD addressed the incident to the public in a video posted to Lost Coast Outpost.

“Given the escalating circumstances and the safety risks to the officers … They began firing [pepperball projectiles] into the ground in and around the crowd trying to back the crowd off,” Stevens said.

Sam Papavasilliou, a 22-year-old Humboldt State University student and former Lumberjack writer, was in attendance that night and was among 30 or so protestors fired on by police. Papavasiliou described how the crowd was cut off in the front and back by several police vehicles while passing by Dutch Bros on the north side of Eureka.

Officers first addressed the crowd to tell them they would be attempting to arrest an individual suspected of vandalism. At 10:33 p.m. this attempted arrest was met with resistance from several protestors.

“One protestor got shot in the ear with [a pepperball]. They were bleeding and they were really yelling at the officer that they didn’t do shit and they said ‘I can’t hear right now,’” Papavasiliou said.

Pepperball rounds are amongst a large host of “non-lethal” weapons used to disperse crowds deemed riotous. Pepperball rounds are designed to explode on impact leaving a cloud of OC (oleoresin capsicum), the same ingredient used in pepper spray. It is advised that they are not aimed at the eyes, face, throat, or spine as death has occured when these inappropriate areas have been fired on.

Rubber bullets are another method of crowd control that fall under a classification of “non-lethal” weapons known as KIPs (Kinetic Impact Projectiles) along with bean bag rounds, pellet rounds, and sponge rounds. In their assessment of “non-lethal” weapons and their safety The Physicians for Human Rights organization argues that “At close ranges, levels of lethality and patterns of injury of some KIPS become similar to those of live ammunition. At longer ranges, KIPs are inaccurate and indiscriminate. Some KIPs are lethal in close range and ineffective at longer distances which make safe use difficult.”

The problem really comes down to KIPs being too inaccurate at longer ranges to correctly target individuals and areas of the body they are aiming for, and that the injuries sustained at close range can penetrate the skin, break bones, fracture the skull and explode the eyeball.

Police also rely on chemical irritants (CIs) for crowd dispersal, namely tear gas and pepper spray. Pepper spray is made of a chemical derived from peppers that inflames the afflicted area on contact causing the burning sensation.

“Officers and deputies were on scene with more or less paintball guns that shoot a paintball projectile that is filled with a powdered OC,” Stevens said.

Symptoms after exposure to these agents include temporary blindness, respiratory inflammation, increase in heart rate and blood pressure. People with respiratory or heart conditions are at an increased risk of more serious injury or death.

Other “non-lethal” weapons include pepper spray, bean bag rounds, tear gas and flash bangs just to name a few. When used correctly, these weapons are a less dangerous alternative to shooting people with actual guns, but mistakes in their applications can leave victims with wide ranges of injury.

Share This Post

More Stories

Nina G uses comedy to start conversations

During the virtual comedy event held by the SDRC, Nina Ghiselli tells her story and emphasizes the importance of student disability resources within schools.

It’s not just the Capitol Police

As the world watched from their televisions on January 6, we witnessed scenes unfold before our eyes that were, to many, unimaginable: supporters of President Trump swarmed the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, then proceeded to break in and

The San Jose State University Football Team Comes to Humboldt

On a day’s notice from administration, the SJSU football team spends a week and a half in Humboldt practicing because their county did not allow it. Students react to their presence on campus in the midst of a pandemic. Directed

Homelessness in Humboldt, CA

This is the first trailer of a homeless documentary created by HSU students. We have spent months filming and will continue to film throughout the next year. Follow the heartbreaking stories of the homeless community around Humboldt county and the

Thrifty Arcata

Taking a tour of the local thrift shops in Arcata during the COVID-19 pandemic. Directed and produced by Skylar Gaven.

House Plants Generate Peace and Meaning During the Pandemic

Three different people with the same love for plants! House plants have become quite popular these days especially since we’re all basically stuck inside during the pandemic. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but these beautiful green oxygen-makers provide more

Prop 22 represents political favoritism of money over workers’ rights

California’s passing of proposition 22 on Nov. 5 represents a frustrating history of workers’ rights being trampled by the overwhelming influence of greed in politics.  This proposition forces app-based workers to be classified as independent contractors, rather than employees. This

Remembering Evelyn Andrews 10 months after her passing

By Katelyn Dendas It has been 10 months since my friend, teammate and freshman year dorm mate, Evelyn Andrews, passed away. I don’t remember what the grief counselor said or what transpired after that Monday, but I do remember arriving

Protestors seek to defund HSUPD

Two local, activist organizations work together to stage a sit-in against Humboldt State’s police department.

Getting stuck on the Trump train

Writer Anthony Aragon details his experience of accidentally joining a pro-Trump car rally.

Justin Turner exposes the World Series to COVID-19

Justin Turner didn’t need to be the story in the wake of the Dodgers’ first World Series victory in 32 years. Instead here we are, wondering what sort of, if any, punishment Major League Baseball will decide to hand down

Four more years of fear

News Editor Carlos Holguin explains why he is worried about the next four years.

Dismal democracy

The Lumberjack editorial staff comments on America’s flawed electoral system As the world watches the United States 2020 election results, waiting for our pseudodemocratic process to churn out a new president, historically unprecedented voting methods misrepresents the reported Election Day

The Mario triple pack invokes a nostalgia attack

When I was a child, the first video game system I owned was a Nintendo 64. Among the games I played was Super Mario 64. I played it all the time and when I wasn’t playing it, I was lying

Women’s lacrosse drops their competitive season

Greta Roberts, president and player of Humboldt State University’s women’s lacrosse team, made the decision with her coach and teammates to cancel the upcoming spring season. The team decided that not being able to recruit in the fall would be

Dobby’s proposition opinions

Haven’t voted yet? Well, you’re running out of time. Here’s a quick rundown of California’s propositions on the ballot this year

Corporations buy out propositions

In a series of general and misleading advertisements, corporate backers of Propositions 22 and 23 show their grubby hands

CDOR continues virtually

The Campus and Community Dialogue On Race returns covering global justice for Black Lives.

Indigenous Food Sovereignty

Local food management practices of the Tolowa Dee-ni, Yurok and other indigenous peoples.

Humboldt State Admin attempts to discredit the Lumberjack

***A Lumberjack editorial represents both the majority opinion of the student newspaper’s editorial board, nine editors, as well as the overwhelming majority of Humboldt State University’s student body. Collectively, an editorial echos, embodies and advocates for community beliefs.*** Insensitive communications

Music of the Moment 6

21 Savage and Metro Boomin drop a classic with “Savage Mode II”

Spartans arrive at HSU despite campus concerns

***Editor’s note: SJSU football program was tested in congruence with Mountain West conference guidelines*** The Spartans have arrived and this time they’re not carrying spears or shields. Instead the San Jose State football team stepped onto the Humboldt State campus

Music of the Moment 5

After shooting Megan Thee Stallion, Tory Lanez cancels himself

Welcome to the Twilight Zone

Comparisons between episodes of the classic TV show The Twilight Zone and our own dismal reality

Music of the Moment 4

YoungBoy Never Broke Again dodges the sophomore slump with his new album “Top.”

Self-Care Cuts

Changing your hair to change your life

HSU Seaweed Farm sets sail

The first commercially-approved seaweed farm in California will be on the map.

Music of the Moment 3

For better or worse, Big Sean is likely gone for good.

More Layers, More Protection?

Humboldt State demands double masking on campus, does more layers equal more protection?

The Ethnic Studies Bill is a Blessing

Ethnic Studies will thankfully become mandatory for all California State University students – as it should be.

The Complex Interface of Humans and Wildfires

How fire suppression is a mixed bag in Humboldt County Every fire season, blankets of smoke roll over Humboldt County. Here on the coast, that’s as close to wildfires as some of us get. But our practice of fire suppression

Defund HSU’s Police Department

Incidents of racism from the former UPD Chief, past examples of excessive force from current officers and a shrinking university budget.

How Not To Be Bitten By A Kitten

Please prepare to be prey Congratulations, a baby feline has recently come into your life. If they’re anywhere from 2-18 months, they bite. They see you as prey. Because you are prey. You always have been. You always will be.

Graduating Into Uncharted Waters

HSU graduates attempt to navigate a world turned upside-down by COVID-19 In May, Humboldt State University graduated hundreds of students, as it does every year. Unlike past years, graduates didn’t get to shake hands with their respective dean and receive

HSU Cultural Center Budget Slashed

Associated Students leaves student body devastated after significant reductions in cultural center’s budget.

All aboard the plague ship

Unprecedented times are met with normalized behavior, HSU puts students and community members at higher risk after reopening campus and student housing.

Music of the Moment

The hip-hop community rallies behind the Black Lives Matter Movement

Inside the Immune System

How the body uses multiple levels of defense against foreign intruders

Catcalling Can’t Continue

Verbal harassment toward women is about control and the assertion of gender discrimination

Major League Marijuana

Why I don’t think marijuana is everything it’s cracked up to be in baseball

Pigs Compost on Campus

CCAT tries to reduce HSU’s food waste footprint through new pig program