Bournemouth University research at Banksy’s Dismaland: #RiotID

Dr Anna Feigenbaum, a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Media and Communication, last week launched the #RiotID project along with John Horne from Birmingham University and the Omega Research Foundation. An output of the Fusion funded BU Datalabs project, #RiotID is a civic media guide helping people identify, monitor and record the use of riot control agents against civilians. The web-based and downloadable #RiotID guide was designed by Minute Works and is currently being distributed at Banksy’s Dismaland as part of the Cruel Designs Exhibition curated by Dr. Gavin Grindon.

Why ID?

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 18.55.11Everyday, around the world, law enforcement officers use tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets and other riot control weapons on civilians. While these devices are marketed as safe and humane ‘less lethal’ weapons, they regularly cause injuries and even deaths.

The Turkish Medical Association states, “As doctors we declare that the use of tear gas whose acute and chronic effects on health have been sufficiently proven must be fully prohibited.” Likewise, members of the European Respiratory Society have shared their concerns over these weapons, “Our findings suggest that people who live and work close to protests are also seeing harmful effects on the lungs from the use of this gas. We have also found that the effect on the protesters lasts longer than we previously thought.

The ‘less lethality’ of Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 18.48.35riot control weapons is largely predicated on their appropriate use, following strict, clinically trailed guidelines. Last week marked the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials that is meant to regulate the use of riot control weapons. Yet, while regulations and guidelines are provided by the UN, there is currently no effective legal oversight or international regulation of their export, trade or everyday use.

#RiotID in Action

The #RiotID guide has already made its way into real world use during an inter-faith community protest in Beit Jala against Israel’s separation wall in Palestine that appropriates residential land. Peaceful protest participants carried the#RiotID guides with them as the marched.

#RiotID is designed to help people medically respond, monitor human rights violations, challenge use of forceBeit Jala_RiotID in action abuses, and identify the manufacturer and country of origin of these devices. It aims to help close the gap between how police are advised to use these weapons and how they are used in reality in ways that cause danger to civilians.

The guid enables people to photo document and upload images to twitter for identification by our team of experts. The guides are currently available in English and Arabic from: http://riotid.com/print-your-own-riotid/ More translations will follow.