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How it feels to be tear-gassed by police

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Cover Image Final

Protestors gather during a Black Lives Matter march in Kansas City, Mo. on May 30.

Last year, Emporia State University senior and Lawrence native Kahill Perkins joined a Black Lives Matter march at the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Mo. Police pepper-sprayed and tear-gassed the protestors. Perkins describes what it feels like to be tear-gassed by police.

It started out fine. My partner, our friend and I joined the Black Lives Matter march in the afternoon on May 30. We walked together with a sea of people surrounding us, chatting and chanting as we marched.

I looked to the sides and saw police surrounding the peaceful march, standing in their black uniforms watching the crowd.

We were approaching the plaza park when I suddenly heard screaming and crying up ahead. The atmosphere changed immediately. I heard people yelling, “He didn’t do anything!” and “Stop!”

Suddenly, I looked over and saw my partner pulled aside and pepper-sprayed by a police officer. My partner yelled and stumbled over to me. I pulled them aside, calling desperately for help as they coughed and cried.

Cover image

A Black Lives Matter march took place on May 30 at the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Mo.

Around me, people were being thrown to the ground and sprayed in the face by police. Then, they began throwing tear gas into the crowd.

I saw the gas start to billow towards us and the air became hazy. The gas burned my skin and blinded my eyes. I coughed as the gas became trapped inside my mask.

It felt like inhaling fire. It felt like I was choking. My skin turned red as I began to develop a chemical burn. Tears ran down my face. All I could think in that moment was “I can’t breathe. I need air.”

Everyone scattered and I ran into the park. I couldn’t stop coughing. I noticed my companions were no longer with me. I heard more screaming as I looked around, disoriented.

A little girl, around 7 years old, appeared by my side. She was sobbing, crying out for her mom. I crouched down.

“Hey, are you okay? Are you lost?” I asked as I gently wiped her face with a wet cloth. I stood up and grabbed her hand. The police surrounded the park and threw more tear gas into the grassy area.

We ran away to avoid the toxic chemicals engulfing the area. I walked around with her, trying to find her mother.

I heard a woman cry out a name behind us. The little girl turned around as her sobbing mother fell to her knees to hug her daughter. The mother looked up at me and thanked me.

“We weren’t even in the march. We were just watching. Thank you for looking after her.”

I then stumbled around trying to find my friends while coughing and crying. When I finally found them, we ran to the car to go home.

The experience was traumatic. However, the very next day I joined another Black Lives Matter protest in Lawrence. The fight for justice continues. 

Person 1: This song slaps.

Person 2: Your mom slaps.

Person 1: Thank you, my mom is a kind and wonderful lady.


 Person 1: I’m so sick of alcohol.

Person 2: I don’t know, I’m getting stronger every day. I love it.


Person 1: Do you do the vegan wrap here?

Person 2: We can do the chicken wrap with no cheese?

Person 1: I’ll take the Beyond Burger please. 


Person 1: Oh my God! I feel like I know you somehow…

Person 2: Yeah, we went to high school together. 

Person 1: Oh! *walks off*


Guy 1: Is the black market even real? Has anyone ever been on it?

Guy 2: I tried once but I couldn’t figure out how to get on.


Guy 1: I stayed up until 2 am watching Disney plus

Guy 2: I told my girlfriend I fell asleep but I was actually watching the Mandalorian.


Girl 1: How long have you guys been dating?

Girl 2: Since the summer, well actually for like two years but it’s a long story.


Girl 1: Who are you looking for?

Girl 2: This guy, wait I found him. Fanny pack boy. He flipped off my professor after a test and ran out of the classroom.


Girl 1: How did you choose KU? 

Girl 2: Honestly, I flipped a coin. 


Boy 1: Did I tell you? I think I had a threesome this weekend.

Boy 2: Woah, hold up. You think?


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Boy 2: Please don’t ever say that again.


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Girl 2: I don’t ever wear a bra? I don’t know. 


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Girl 2: How do you know? You’re a virgin!


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Girl: You wake up at like three every day. 

Guy: I know.

Girl: So…

Guy: So does that make me a dog or something?


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Woman 2: Oh absolutely.


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Girl 2: Yeah that’s smart so you don’t give it to anyone else. 

Girl 1: No I mean I want to make sure I infect him.


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Guy 1: Actually I might just start chewing


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Guy 2: My manager was chastising me for not dressing up in a Halloween costume, she doesn’t understand I’m strictly here to get paid.


Guy 1: I am so tired of this week, man

Guy 2: Dude it’s Monday

Guy 1: I know


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Person#2: Not me, I doubt they have Wi-Fi

Perons#1: Yeah but at least they’re evolving up there. We’re all just devolving.


Girl 1: Um, I don’t eat pig.

Girl 2: You eat bacon all the time, bitch.


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Guy 2: Yeah, see ya. I’m off to get some Adderall.


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Girl 2: Yeah, why?

Girl 1: I bought a cat


Girl 1: I just don't understand what fishing is for.

Girl 2: I don't know. Food, maybe?


Guy: I’m just gonna have to like carry an entire box of spiders up the hill tomorrow.

Girl: What?

Guy: Yeah, just like a hundred spiders in a box.


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Guy 2: Dude, you shaved half your head. That’s not a haircut, that’s a mess.


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Girl 2: How else are you supposed to eat it?


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Guy: Well, at least we'll be rested.


Girl: She's not in class this semester.

Guy: Maybe she's dead.

Girl: Or studying abroad.


Girl: They're like oil and water.

Guy: Wow, you're so good with analogies.