‘US May Be Under-Reporting Number of Citizens Killed during Protests’
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – An independent American journalist based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, said the US government is under-reporting the number of people killed during the ongoing protests against police brutality in the country.
“CBS is reporting that over 13,000 people have been arrested "this week." It is indeed possible that the government may be underreporting the number of people killed during this recent uprising. Unfortunately, we cannot expect to ever know the truth,” Emma Leigh Sron told Tasnim in an interview.
Following is the full text of the interview.
Tasnim: The Washington Post said in a recent report that only “several” people have been killed and over 7,000 have been arrested during protests over police brutality across the US. There is no information about those wounded. There are reports that the US government is blocking information and that American security forces may have killed more people since protests began in late May. What is your take on this? Do you believe that the government is under-reporting?
Leigh Sron: CBS is reporting that over 13,000 people have been arrested "this week." It is indeed possible that the government may be underreporting the number of people killed during this recent uprising. Unfortunately, we cannot expect to ever know the truth. However, I am aware of at least one example in California in which the authorities killed a person over the last few days and did not make that information public. Just tonight an old man in Buffalo, New York was pushed to the ground by an officer. He lay helpless as blood poured from his ears and other officers simply walked past him. Despite all of this being caught on tape, Buffalo police indicated that one person "tripped and fell" during the day's protest. There appears to be a consistent discrepancy between reality and the information released to the public by police and this appears to be consistent across the United States.
In terms of injuries, those who have been present during any one of the many protests across the country that have turned tense and violent (on the part of the police) understand that to suggest the police would have any count on the number of injured people is foolish. Citizen medics are stationed at protests across the country ready to tend to the injured, whether that be by tear gas, flash-bang grenades, rubber bullets, pepper balls, batons, and more. Only the worst of these injuries make it to the hospital where they are perhaps counted in one way or another. Thousands of people have been tear-gassed every night across the US and while those people may not be bleeding and may return to normal function sooner than later, the truth remains that tear gas is a chemical weapon and its use is prohibited in war under the Geneva Protocol of 1925. There exists the possibility for longterm effects of being exposed to tear gas, especially repeatedly and more significantly during a global pandemic involving respiratory illness.
Here is a comprehensive list of documented instances of police brutality during some of the uprising: https://tinyurl.com/GFProtestPoliceBrutality
Tasnim: Do you believe that the US government is using the COVID-19 crisis as a tool to cover-up facts about the unprecedented rallies?
Leigh Sron: Honestly it felt as though talk and news about SARS-CoV-2 disappeared virtually overnight as the rallies and subsequent uprising began, save for a question here and there about whether or not this will lead to a massive uptick in cases and then deaths. The news cycle in the US switches from topic to topic rather quickly and is heavily influenced by the US government itself. There is talk among protesters that ignoring the SARS-CoV-2 crisis as protesters gather in close quarters repeatedly and cough after being tear-gassed may even be on purpose, in order to create that uptick in cases thus creating additional chaos in the country. As the uprising continues, the news cycle will likely switch back to the pandemic or even something else because an uprising like this is obviously not what the government will want blasted across TV screens and the front pages of newspapers across the country for long. If cases do increase soon, they may use it as an opportunity to demonize the protesters and the uprising.
Tasnim: What might the future hold for the uprising? Will it continue and lead to a major change?
Leigh Sron: Major change is already here. In Minneapolis, both the school board and the park board have voted to cut ties with the Minneapolis Police Department. City Council Members are exploring how to disband the Minneapolis Police and rebuild. The neighboring city of St. Paul is watching and organizers are exploring how to do similar things. Those on the ground leading the uprising across the United States are not new to this battle. In Minneapolis alone, there have been movements to hand over community control of police and to insure the police. While those battles have been uphill, they have existed and have gained momentum over time and are now becoming possible. If Minneapolis, where all of this began, is able to make these major changes, it may serve as an example for the entire country. Thanks to the lockdown, a perfect storm existed that made the murder of George Floyd the spark that lit a massive fire that has been ready to burn and create lasting change for a very long time. We have never seen something like this in the United States. I do not think it is going to end anytime soon. Major police reform is on the horizon and, if anything, people in the United States have finally seen that the people have power.