San Francisco police are asking for the public’s assistance in determining the suspects’ identities behind the chemical attack during a Saturday protest in United Nations Plaza that left two officers injured.
Officials allowed demonstrators to conduct the free speech rally in downtown San Francisco. The event was the second free-speech movement in the state this month. Protesters aimed to defend free-speech during Election day.
However, the peaceful rally was met with opposing demonstrators throwing bottles filled with caustic chemicals and other objects at the participants and law enforcement personnel. The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) said the demonstration quickly became violent that they were forced to declare a public safety hazard and shut it down early, The San Francisco News reported.
Several participants were severely injured during the chaos, while two police officers were hit by the chemical bottles. Some officers said the contents of the containers spread through the air after the bottles were thrown. The victims experienced temporary blindness and breathing problems and described the sensation as a burning feeling inside their lungs, throat, and skin.
Officials called in the San Francisco Department of Public Health to analyze the contents of the unknown liquids. Health experts discovered that the chemicals were a mixture of several substances. Some of the contents caused “neurological harm, eye and skin irritation, headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and chemical burns.”
Health professionals conducted first aid to treat the officers struck by the caustic chemicals on the scene. Police officers did not immediately make an arrest and did not provide details of the suspects’ descriptions, CBS Local reported
The news comes as earlier this week, several business establishments were seen blocking their windows and doors with boards in preparation for the potential civil unrest on election day. The COVID-19 pandemic did not deter residents from going out and gathering in large numbers to protest their political agendas.
Despite most demonstrations staying relatively peaceful, events such as these are open invitations to people only looking to sow chaos. Bay Area businesses feared falling victim to graffiti and forced entries and proceeded to fortify their buildings.
Crew workers were observed measuring window frames and putting up plywood in the front portion of the Westin St. Francis hotel in Union Square.
San Francisco chamber of commerce Jay Cheng said residents and business owners were anxious about the possible chaos and violence. Historically, the city has seen several protests and demonstrators that target businesses.
Most of the victims have lost thousands of dollars in damages, and the coronavirus pandemic has made it even more threatening. He added that the precautionary measures were made in anticipation of the protests as owners cannot afford to lose their income sources, KRON4 reported.
Meanwhile, several Trump supporters marched towards the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center stationed in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. The group, which includes Republican Rep. Paul Gosar, and civilians, some of which were armed with guns, demanded on Wednesday evening for the electoral votes to be counted.
Additionally, GOP Rep. Kelly Townsend of Arizona requested voters to reveal information about the forced use of sharpies during the elections. The politician’s appeal came after conspiracy theories spread online that elections workers were handing out felt-tip pens to Trump supporters, which would cause their ballots to be invalidated.
However, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has repeatedly said that the use of sharpies on election ballots would not invalidate the votes. She added that the ink would dry much quicker, removing any sort of smearing as the ballot is placed inside the tabulation machine.
Officials decided to postpone the vote counting on Wednesday due to safety concerns as mobs armed with deadly weapons and assault rifles gathered outside the election center, the Arizona Central reported.