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Protesters at Omaha Police Headquarters say tear gas harms women's health

Protesters at Omaha Police Headquarters say tear gas harms women's health

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An estimated 125 protesters gathered outside Omaha Police Headquarters on Sunday, demanding that the Police Department stop using tear gas because the chemicals can have adverse health effects on women who are menstruating or pregnant.

Just after 4 p.m., the protesters finished their march at the downtown police station after starting at the City-County Building and stopping by the spot where James Scurlock, a 22-year-old black man, was fatally shot by white bar owner Jake Gardner on May 30.

Tear gas, protesters said, has lengthened and exacerbated problems with menstruation, in addition to causing other health concerns, in women who were exposed during protests in Omaha.

“This is the beginning of sustained action here in Omaha,” said Markell Riley, a protester who works at several bars in Omaha. “They can either get with it or have to deal with this every day for however long it takes.”

Sunday’s protest, which also centered on police brutality and systemic racism, was one of many in the metro area since the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed on May 25 by a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck.

Dr. Asit Goswami, a family practice physician in Omaha, spoke through a megaphone, saying tear gas can have harmful effects, citing a 2012 article by Physicians for Humans Rights. The doctor added that there is little high-quality research, as testing tear gas on human subjects would not be ethical.

Police had taped off the building, with officers on horseback and in riot gear standing by.

Photos: Several rallies and protests in Omaha on June 5

wbauer@owh.com, 402-444-1069

Omaha World-Herald: Afternoon Update

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