BEIRUT: In solidarity with mass protests that erupted in the US this past week over the death of George Floyd, Lebanese activists have taken to social media to share their support and safety tips learned during Lebanon’s October nationwide uprising.
Protests against police brutality and over the death of Floyd in Minneapolis have ignited across the US, spreading to at least 30 cities. On May 25, the unarmed black American man, 46, died after being pinned to the ground by a white police officer, who pressed his knee into Floyd’s throat for eight minutes and 46 seconds.
Floyd is the latest in a series of black unarmed Americans to die while in police custody.
Demonstrations in the US erupted into violence as tens of thousands of protesters clashed with riot police and the National Guard. Buildings and vehicles were set ablaze and looted as hundreds were arrested and injured. Police responded by launching tear gas and stun grenades into the crowds.
In Lebanon, the Twitter hashtag “America revolts” became one of the top trending tags over the past week, evoking the hashtag “Lebanon Revolts,” a main slogan of the Oct. 17 uprising.
Lebanese Human Rights Technologist Sarah Aoun, 30, currently living and protesting in Brooklyn, compiled a comprehensive thread of tweets, outlining protest safety precautions put together by Lebanese activists, protesters and revolutionaries.
Aoun, who took part in Lebanon’s protests in October and November, says, “There are similarities in police tactics that are used but overall we’re dealing with very different histories and contexts.”
She told The Daily Star that the protests in the US are much more violent than in Lebanon, as police have access to more advanced technology and means of surveillance.
“I felt a lot safer in Lebanese protests than in Brooklyn,” she says. “The ironic thing in Lebanon is that there’s no pretense of the police being on people’s side. In the US there’s an idea that the police are here to protect you ... but it is never the case.”
Drawing on her experiences protesting in Lebanon, Aoun via Twitter suggests “items to keep in your bag” include “Cut onions to inhale if teargas gets in your face,” and soda which could be used to wash your face.
“Once tear gas is used, get upwind or find higher ground. Drinking or washing your face with water after you get exposed to teargas will exacerbate the stinging symptoms, not alleviate them,” Aoun cautions.
Aoun also offered legal tips, suggesting having a lawyer’s phone number handy in the event of getting arrested. “Write a lawyer’s phone number on your arm with a marker and YELL OUT YOUR NAME, in case you’re arrested. This worked well in #Lebanon to keep track of who was getting taken,” she wrote.
Online Lebanese satirist Karl Sharro, known by his pen name Karl reMarks, also took to Twitter to offer his criticisms on the violent scenes, saying, “The US should invade itself to bring democracy to the US.”
“Watching all the videos coming out of the US, it's like they have a competition between the different police forces for who's the worst arsehole,” he wrote in another tweet.
Demonstrations in support of Floyd and against police brutality have taken place in cities across the world including Berlin, London and Montreal.