After police shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., on August 9, the city’s population rose up in protest. The police responded with an incredibly militarized response, including heavy use of tear gas.
More than 100 Palestinians and 16 supporting organizations have signed a with the people of Ferguson.
That violence has led to a massive outpouring of support for the protesters from across the United States. On August 14, vigils occurred nationwide as a part of a National Moment of Silence, launched by the NY-based activist Feminista Jones.
But there were also messages of support, solidarity, and guidance that came in from more than 6,000 miles away. As social media lit up with images from Ferguson, Palestinian Twitter users offered advice on dealing with the effects of tear gas.
Some focused in on practical tips:
Solidarity with #Ferguson. Remember to not touch your face when teargassed or put water on it. Instead use milk or coke!— مريم البرغوثي (@MariamBarghouti) August 14, 2014
Always make sure to run against the wind /to keep calm when you're teargassed, the pain will pass, don't rub your eyes! #Ferguson Solidarity— مريم البرغوثي (@MariamBarghouti) August 14, 2014
Others tweeted out messages of solidarity, emphasizing the connections between the oppression of Americans in Ferguson with that of Palestinians under Israeli occupation:
Mariam Barghouti is a Palestinian student and blogger currently residing in the West Bank, and was one of those tweeting the advice for dealing with tear gas. Reached via email, Barghouti told YES that “Just as Palestinians are dehumanized and vilified, the demonstrators in Ferguson are also facing a similar unjust narrative in the media.”
And it’s not just the narrative that’s similar. Barghouti also pointed out on Twitter that the same Pennsylvania-based company, Combined Tactical Systems, whose tear gas and other crowd control products are used in the West Bank (most recently at a demonstration near the military prison known as Ofer), are now being used in Ferguson.
Photos of expired canisters found in Ferguson and shared on social media that bear Combined Tactical Systems’ name and address lend support to the theory.
The Guardian’s Jon Swaine tweeted a photo of an undetonated “mini bang” tactical grenade found in Ferguson, which was made by Combined Tactical Systems:
Found what seems to be an undetonated "mini bang" cracker on W Florissant pic.twitter.com/iWHq6TyK9y— Jon Swaine (@jonswaine) August 14, 2014
Multimedia journalist Joanne Stocker (@sabzbrach) and activist Robin Jacks ( @caulkthewagon) have been compiling photos of the tear gas and other weaponry used in Ferguson, documenting the models and manufacturers on a public spreadsheet, as well as noting deaths due to tear gas worldwide.
For Barghouti, the similarities between Palestinians and the people of Ferguson go far beyond tear gas canisters. “The very tactics used by the Israeli military in the suppression of Palestinian resistance are being applied by the militarized American police,” she said, adding that “injustice has a similar pattern regardless of geographical location.”