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The story of how a chemical weapon went from the battlefield to the streets
One hundred years ago, French troops fired tear gas grenades into German trenches. Designed to force people out from behind barricades and trenches, tear gas causes burning of the eyes and skin, tearing, and gagging. Chemical weapons are now banned from war zones. But today, tear gas has become the most commonly used form of “less-lethal” police force. In 2011, the year that protests exploded from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street, tear gas sales tripled. Most tear gas is produced in the United States, and many images of protestors in Tahrir Square showed tear gas canisters with “Made in USA” printed on them, while Britain continues to sell tear gas to countries on its own human rights blacklist.
An engrossing century-spannin
Anna Feigenbaum is co-author of the book Protest Camps, and her work has appeared in Vice, The Atlantic, Al Jazeera America, The Guardian, Salon, Financial Times, Open Democracy, New Internationalis