France — During the 16th stage of the Tour de France on Tuesday, several front-runners in the race were hit with tear gas from police. Four-time champion Chris Froome was one of the cyclists in the lead who got a face full of the toxic chemical.
According to reports, the police were there responding to protesters. A handful of farmer protesters sat in the road to garner attention for their cause. Apparently they are upset that the European Union has reduced their funding.
The group of protesters, according to French media, are from the local Ariege department and took to the road Tuesday to get their voices heard. Their image will likely be marred now, however, as multiple cyclists from various countries were tear gassed as a result of their actions.
Apparently the officers ignored the direction and the strength of the wind which resulted in clouds of the gas floating into the riders.
Although the riders were accidentally hit with the gas, the images below show that the protesters were indeed the targets of police. The disturbing images show police hitting the protesters in the faces at near-point blank range as they sit there peacefully.
As ABC reported:
Cycling teams and French media said police used tear gas to disperse the protesters but it ended up blowing in the face of the riders, which led to the race being stopped at the 187 kilometre-to-go point. Police also had to remove bales of hay blocking the road 30 kilometres into the 218km leg from Carcassonne to Bagneres De-Luchon.
The race had to be stopped for several minutes as riders had their eyes treated with drops to remove the harmful substance. After the riders cleared their eyes, the Tour de France resumed.
While this instance was obviously an accidental move by police in France, the Free Thought Project has reported on similar instances in the US which have been entirely deliberate.
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As TFTP reported at the time, in March of 2016, Fort Worth police confirmed that one of their officers was under investigation after a video was uploaded to Facebook showing him pepper spray innocent people as they drove by on motorcycles.
After Fort Worth police officer William Figueroa blew pepper spray into the faces of motorcyclists as they drove by on a busy highway, he was placed on paid vacation pending an internal investigation. The investigation was wrapped up that June. However, investigators left it up to Figueroa's bosses to decide what, if any, punishment he would receive.
Nearly two months after the investigation, and Figueroa back on the streets, the department announced that he wouldn't be punished. Instead, the department said that Figueroa received "internal sanctions." When asked what "internal sanctions" are, Sgt. Marcus Povero, a police spokesman, said that he could not specify. However, he added that they could include retraining or a "commander's admonishment."
In other words, an officer who nearly caused a deadly pileup, from being unable to control his rage, was not punished.
But pepper spray isn't their only weapon. A video uploaded to Facebook last January went viral after is showed a Chicago cop walking into the street and lob his piping hot cup of coffee into the face of a motorcyclist. The man on the bike goes by Elijah Bling on Facebook and the officer's crime was captured on his helmet cam.
As the video begins, a group of bikers is traveling through downtown Chicago. Some of the bikers are revving their engines and popping wheelies. However, Elijah appears to be driving in a perfectly safe manner. As the group begins to near the cop, the officer targets Elijah and releases the coffee.
According to Elijah, he did not have his face protector down so the coffee spilled right into his eyes and nearly caused a serious accident.