Lebanon’s protesters have offered safety tips and shared their support via social media with demonstrators who took to the streets in over 75 cities in the US over the death of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis.
Floyd, 46, died after then-police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, despite the victim repeatedly telling law enforcement he could not breathe.
Protesters in the US have been met with a strong military presence on the streets and been dispersed by volleys of tear gas– similar to scenes from Lebanon’s demonstrations, sparking Lebanese to offer safety advice.
One activist, Sarah Aoun, published a series of tweets detailing safety and legal advice for protesters, suggesting they keep a lawyer’s number handy in case they are arrested and set a designated meeting place where they can be reunited with friends if they are separated by the crowds.
We wrote a quick guide for US folks, combined by Lebanese activists, protesters, and revolutionaries (cc @aemasri). Contains info on protest safety, tear gas, + other hacks.
— Sarah A | ساره 🇱🇧 (@sa0un) May 29, 2020
She also provides an itemised list of “what to keep in your bag”. One of the items listed is soda water which, Aoun says, should be used instead of water to wash skin which has been exposed to tear gas because of its acidic properties.
Other users posted messages of solidarity. One Beirut-based activist, Sara Rayes, wrote: “from Lebanon, Hong Kong, and Chile to Minneapolis and every other place that might need it #BlackLivesMatter … with lots and lots of love for all the people everywhere fighting for human rights”.
Everything that's happening in the US, and #georgesfloyd case, reminds me of the Lebanese revolution…
Stay strong, we're in this together #georgesfloyd #أميركا_تنتفض #امريكا_تنتفض #لبنان_ينتفض #BlackLivesMatter
— George (@gxrges) May 30, 2020
Others were quick to draw similarities between protest movements in the US and Lebanon. One Lebanese writer, Joelle Sheikh, documented similarities between the protest movements.
Sheikh claimed there are seven major points of comparison, one being “a history of injustice and one triggering event” – In Lebanon, the imposition of a tax on online calls through applications such as WhatsApp, and in America, the death of George Floyd.
2. Not soon after, chaos erupted as protestors started resorting to violence (destroying shops, lighting cars on fire)
3. Police resorted to tear gas and rubber bullets
4. News started circulating about two types of protests: peaceful and violent #لبنان_ينتفض #أميركا_تنتفض
— Joelle (@JoelleSheikh) June 1, 2020
5. The country is divided: those who are against violent protests, and those who think it’s necessary
6. Social media is the strongest weapon; videos of police/military being extremely aggressive with protestors #أميركا_تنتفض #لبنان_ينتفض
— Joelle (@JoelleSheikh) June 1, 2020
Others were quick to highlight the different reaction protesters in Lebanon and the US, who broke into buildings and stores, vandalising and destroying the interiors, received.
Lebanese journalist Luna Safwan, posted a video captioned “rioters have stormed the Multnomah County Justice Center in Portland, Oregon, and have set the building on fire”. Safwan noted that Lebanese protesters who broke into buildings during protests were widely criticised.
When Lebanese protestors broke into buildings & stores during the earlier days of the #Lebanonprotests many criticized them.
— Luna Safwan – لونا صفوان (@LunaSafwan) May 30, 2020
Several Twitter users ridiculed the US government’s response and rehashed statements from official institutions about the Lebanese protests to draw attention to hypocrisy.
Recent events underscore the need for a frank discussion between the American people and their leadership about the future of their country and reflect the American people’s longstanding demands for criminal justice reform and an end to endemic racism.#أميركا_تنتفض https://t.co/zjLDak6JGX
— Enzo El Adm (@Enzo_ElAdm) June 2, 2020
Online Lebanese satirist Karl Sharro, known by his pen name Karl reMarks, also criticised the violent scenes in the US on Twitter. Sharro wrote, “the US should invade itself to bring democracy to the US”.
Two days later, he responded to the tweet, saying “guys I was joking”, after footage of military personnel being deployed on the streets surfaced on social media platforms.
Guys I was jokinghttps://t.co/fytHgjDxi1
— Karl Sharro (@KarlreMarks) May 31, 2020