What We Know About the Protests in Pennsylvania After Police Shot and Killed a Man

Maria Perez
Sep 14, 2020 - 3:19

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Protests ignited in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 13 following the death of a 27-year-old man who was shot and killed by police.

The Lancaster Bureau of Police said in a statement that it received a 911 call for a domestic disturbance at 4:15 p.m. on the 300 block of Laurel Street. The caller reportedly told dispatchers that her brother, Ricardo Munoz, was “becoming aggressive with his mother and attempting to break into her house.”

Body camera footage shows an officer walking to the front door of the home as shouting occurs in the background. A woman leaves the residence, as the officer tells the woman to “get back.” Seconds later, Munoz runs from the home toward the officer with what appeared to be a knife in his hand, the video shows. The officer fires several shots, shooting Munoz multiple times. He was pronounced dead at the scene. 

The Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office is investigating the shooting and the officer involved was placed on administrative leave, WPVI-TV reported. 

Hours after the shooting, hundreds of protestors took to the streets of Lancaster to protest Munoz’s death. During the demonstrations, police said people threw bricks, water bottles, glass bottles, and rocks at officers.

Demonstrators React to Munoz’s Death

Crowds of demonstrators outside of the police station were sprayed with pepper spray and chemical agents, according to police. In a statement, police said demonstrators “failed to follow the instructions and chemical agents were used to disperse the crowd.” Some chemical agents aren’t even allowed to be used in war and can have harmful effects if used on demonstrators.

Heather Adams, the Lancaster District Attorney, called for calm in her statement to The Guardian.

“We ask that acts of protest remain peaceful as violence and destruction of property will become headlines and serve no purpose for the safety and wellbeing of our citizens and neighborhoods,” Adams said.

The recent demonstration comes after months of protests against police brutality and anti-racism, with protesters demanding justice for those who have been killed or severely injured in police custody. After weeks of protests in Portland, Mayor Ted Wheeler directed police to stop using tear gas on demonstrators. 

“During the last hundred days Portland, Multnomah County and State Police have all relied on CS gas where there is a threat to life safety. We need something different. We need it now,” Wheeler wrote in a statement

Civil rights organizations and activists have been calling for law enforcement to stop using tear gas at demonstrators. In July, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the City of Indianapolis for using chemical agents on demonstrators.

“Excessive use of force against protesters chills free speech, and widens the rift of distrust between communities and the police that are sworn to serve them,” Ken Falk, legal director at the ACLU of Indiana, said in a previous statement sent to The North Star. “Indianapolis should instead listen to demonstrators, build community trust, and transform policing and the criminal legal system.”

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At the end of each story about the Black Lives Matter protests occurring around the country, we will share the following information on how best to protect yourself: 

Protecting Yourself From Tear Gas

Before being exposed: Do not wear contact lenses or makeup. This could trap the tear gas on your skin and eyes. Try to wear protective goggles if possible. Remember to wear a mask, which you should already be wearing to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Wear long sleeves and long pants to protect as much of your skin as possible. 

If exposed: Get yourself out of the area immediately. The CDC recommends seeking higher ground as most Riot Control Agents (RCAs) are heavier than air. 

Clothing: The RCAs will have contaminated your clothing, be sure to remove the clothes as soon as possible and discard. Clothing that needs to be removed over the head should be cut instead. The CDC recommends wearing rubber gloves and putting the contaminated clothes in a bag and then seal that bag in another bag. 

Exposed Skin: The International News Safety Institute recommends washing with soap and water. First, shower in cold water and then in warm water. Do not bathe. Wash your face as soon as you can, but do not rub the skin as you don’t want to activate the powder in tear gas. Do not rinse your eyes and face with milk, instead use water. 

Protecting Yourself: Technology Edition

Smartphone: Smartphones can easily give out information that police can later use against protesters. Turn off your location data and remove facial and fingerprint recognition. If you need to communicate with friends or family, be sure to download and use the Signal app, which encrypts messages. WIRED recommends Android users head to Settings, then Security and make sure the Encrypt Disk option is selected. 

Social Media: Do not post photos or videos with geotags and consider blurring the faces of protesters when sharing information on social media. 

Police Conduct App: The ACLU has created the Mobile Justice app to record police conduct. You can learn more about the app here.

Other Tips

Identifying Clothing or Tattoos: It is highly recommended you wear clothing that is not easily identifiable. Be sure to cover any tattoos that can be used by law enforcement to identify you. 

In Case You’re Arrested: Write the number down of a lawyer, organization or friend/family member that you can call if you’re arrested on your skin. Be sure to have a form of ID in your pocket.

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