- The ongoing Black Lives Matter movement has put law enforcement policies and police tactics under renewed scrutiny.
- Scroll down to see some of the controversial police tactics highlighted amid the Black Lives Matter movement.
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The video of a white police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man from Minneapolis, shocked millions around the world.
It not only marked the death of another unarmed Black man at the hands of police but also placed renewed scrutiny on police brutality and law enforcement policies in America.
From "spit hoods" to no-knock warrants, scroll down to see some of the controversial police tactics.
1. Chokeholds and neck restraints
A chokehold is a constriction technique used by law enforcement officials to force an uncooperative suspect to submit without causing death or injury.
In many of the largest police departments across the country, policies regarding the use of neck restraints are imprecise, resulting in a lack of accountability.
Since the killing of George Floyd in May, multiple police departments in states including California, Colorado, Nevada, Minnesota, New York, and Texas have said they will ban chokeholds and any other airway-restricting techniques.
Washington DC has passed legislation to ban police chokeholds and accelerate the public release of police body-camera footage earlier this summer.
2. The use of spit hoods during arrests
Spit hoods are mesh bags used by police in the US and abroad to protect officers from a detainee's saliva.
In recent years, the controversial devices have been linked to several in-custody deaths.
The tactic came under renewed scrutiny after the death of Daniel Prude in March — a Black man who was experiencing a mental health crisis and had wandered out of the house unclothed in Rochester, New York.
Prude died of asphyxiation after a group of police officers put a white spit hood over his head, then pressed his face into the pavement for two minutes. He died seven days later.
One officer later said that Prude was hooded because he was spitting and they were concerned about contracting the coronavirus, according to the Guardian.
During the coronavirus pandemic, police departments have begun using the hoods more often because of heightened fears that the detainees might spread contaminated respiratory droplets during an arrest.
The officers involved in Prude's death have been suspended, and activists and Prude's family are calling for them to be charged in his homicide.
"The police have shown us over and over again that they are not equipped to handle individuals with mental health concerns," Ashley Gantt, a community organizer for Free the People Roc and the New York Civil Liberties Union, told the Democrat and Chronicle. "These officers are trained to kill, and not to de-escalate."
3. Injecting ketamine to sedate suspects
Paramedics inject ketamine as a sedative, often at the orders of police who think suspects are acting out of control.
There are no federal standards for police officers or medical personnel on the drug's use, according to the Associated Press. Policies relating to the drug vary depending on the state, so it is not clear how regularly it's used during police encounters and why.
Ketamine was also injected into 23-year-old Elijah McClain in Denver last summer, who was stopped by officers responding to a 911 call about a suspicious person wearing a ski mask. His family later said McClain wore ski masks because he had a blood condition that made him feel cold.
Police put the 23-year-old massage therapist in a chokehold twice and pressed their body weight into him. When the paramedics arrived, they injected him with ketamine, giving him more than 1.5 times the dose he should have received because they incorrectly estimated his weight.
The coroner found that McClain's death was due to "undetermined causes" but did not rule out that the chokehold, in addition to the ketamine, might have contributed to his death.
"Why anyone would be giving ketamine in that circumstance is beyond me," neuroscientist Carl Hart, who is also the chair of Columbia University's psychology department, told NBC. "The major problem here is we should never be ordering any medication, and no one should be taking or given it against their will."
After McClain's death, Colorado's health department opened an investigation into the growing use of ketamine.
4. No-knock warrants
No-knock warrants allow police or law enforcement officials to enter a property without alerting the residents beforehand.
The warrant is usually handed down by a judge and issued in the belief that any evidence officials hope to find would be destroyed if they allowed suspects to be aware of the police plans to enter premises.
The use of no-knock warrants had increased in recent years and featured in the police killings of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman from in Louisville, Kentucky, who was lying in bed when she was shot eight times during a no-knock drug raid in March.
No-knock warrants have been controversial since their introduction under the Nixon administration in the 1970s.
In response to the Black Lives Matter protests, the Louisville Metro Council voted unanimously to ban no-knock search warrants in June, according to the New York Times. They called it "Breonna's Law."
The new law does not only require police officers to knock on the front door of a house before entering it but also asks them to have their body cameras on when conducting a search.
5. Use of tear gas to disperse crowds
The use of tear gas in many of the Black Lives Matter protests has sparked concerns about the legality of its use on large assemblies.
Teargas is a nonlethal chemical irritant designed to disperse crowds. While it is technically nonlethal, it can still cause pain, difficulty breathing, and temporary blindness to those exposed to it.
Critics of the tactic have said they are concerned about law enforcement's heavy reliance on it and claim that chemical gas is a weapon of war under the Geneva Conventions.
This claim has been backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who described tear gas to other lawmakers as "a chemical weapon that is used in war."
Rapper Ice Cube, who has been very vocal during the protests, got more than 142,000 likes on a Tweet in which he said that tear gas is "actually illegal."
There have been a handful of tear-gas-related deaths.
6. "Kettling" as a form of crowd control
"Kettling" is a crowd control tactic used by law enforcement officials, which involves blocking and trapping people in a small space for an indefinite period.
While not explicitly used during arrests, the much-disputed tactic has been used on several occasions during the Black Lives Matter protests.
In June, protesters in New York City accused police officers of disrupting a peaceful demonstration after hundreds of people were trapped in downtown Brooklyn, causing fear and panic.
—Ali Watkins (@AliWatkins) June 4, 2020
"Kettling" has become even more problematic amid the coronavirus pandemic. People forced to crowd in a tight space can become a public health risk for a prolonged period.
"The police tactics — the kettling, the mass arrests, the use of chemical irritants — those are completely opposed to public health recommendations," Malika Fair, director of public health initiatives at the Association of American Medical Colleges, told Politico.
"They're causing protesters to violate the six-feet recommendation. The chemicals may make them have to remove their masks. This is all very dangerous."
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