A 21-year-old Indiana protester has lost an eye after being hit in the face by a tear gas canister while attending a demonstration on Saturday.
Balin Brake revealed he suffered the devastating injury at around 5.30pm in Fort Wayne while protesting the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who was killed while in the custody of Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day.
After getting out of surgery on Sunday, Brake told DailyMail.com: ‘Protesters were in the streets. Cops yelled “disperse” then began launching tear gas canisters into the crowd.
‘One hit and burned my shoe. I began to run and as I turned around to see what was going on behind me another canister hit my face.’
Balin Brake has lost an eye after being hit in the face by a tear gas canister while attending a demonstration on Saturday
Balin Brake shared this photograph after having surgery to remove his eye. He will be having a prosthetic fitted after he has surgery to repair his occipital bone. He is pictured after surgery (left) and before his injury (right)
He added: ‘I didn’t feel a lot of pain because the right side of my face went numb, but I instantly knew my eye was done for. I couldn’t see out of it and there was blood just leaking from it.’
Brake, who lives in Fort Wayne and works part time as a video editor for a local news station, said he was protesting peacefully because ‘anger and violence isn’t going to fix any of the problems we’re facing.’
He underwent surgery on Sunday and revealed his eye ‘ruptured’ when a ‘FWPD [Fort Wayne Police Department] Officer unnecessarily and improperly fired a tear gas canister at my head hitting my eye’.
He had his eye removed and will have a prosthetic fitted in the following weeks after having surgery to repair his occipital bone.
He told his Twitter followers: ‘This pales in comparison to the hardships African Americans have endured for decades. Stand up for what u believe in.
‘I regret nothing. I’ll say the same thing I’ve been saying. This is chess not checkers. My eye is small collateral when you think of what the big picture is.’
Demonstrators are pictured at a rally protesting the death of George Floyd in Fort Wayne, Indiana on Sunday
He added to DailyMail.com: ‘If I could be back on the streets for the protests today I would be. The police need policing.
‘This white skin of mine is a privilege and I fully intend to use my privilege to advocate and continue to help my fellow people. Black Lives Matter.’
Sofia Rosales-Scatena, Public Information Officer for Fort Wayne Police Department, said in a statement: ‘At this time this is what I can tell you regarding the eye injury of a male protester. I do not have an official name at this time but we do believe it to be the same person many of you are inquiring about from Saturdays protest.
‘According to our officers on the ground the protester was still in the area after commands to leave the area were given. Gas was deployed in the area and the protester bent over to pick up the canister to throw it back at officers as many others were trying to do.
‘When he bent over another canister was deployed in the area and that canister skipped and hit the protester in the eye. There was no deliberate deployment of gas to any persons head.’
Brake’s injury comes just one day after journalist and mother-of-two Linda Tirado was left blind in one eye.
She was struck by what she believes was a rubber bullet or marking round at a protest in Minneapolis on Friday.
The 37-year-old from Nashville was left with life-changing injuries while photographing the rally protesting the death of black man George Floyd.
The freelance writer and author told DailyMail.com: ‘Protesters said police were tear-gassing. I put on my goggles and respirator.
‘It was pretty chaotic – people were moving in every direction. Then I kind of felt my face explode.’
The mother of two young girls, who had also photographed the protest in the city the night prior, added: ‘I put up my hands and shouted “I’m press, I’m press.”‘
With her eyes filled with blood, protesters ‘acted as my eyes when I couldn’t see past the blood and the swelling’ and got her to hospital.
Linda Tirado, 37, has been left permanently blind in one eye following the protest. She shared a photograph (right) of her backpack while she was in hospital. She believes she may have been hit by a marking round. They are reduced power cartridges tipped with soft plastic projectiles that leave a bright mark on the target
‘I was in surgery 20 minutes after that,’ she told DailyMail.com after returning from hospital on Saturday. ‘I woke up this morning with an eye patch on.’
Doctors have told her she is going to be left with scarring on her face and will be permanently blind in one eye – although she hopes in the future she may be able to gain the ability to see light and shadows through the damaged eye.
It will take around six months for her wounds to heal, but she is grateful she didn’t lose her ‘photography eye so it’s not career-ending’.
She explained that her eyeball actually split in two and it is believed the injury was caused by a rubber bullet or a marking round.
Marking rounds are reduced power cartridges tipped with soft plastic projectiles that leave a bright mark on the target. Tirado’s bag was left covered with large splotches of fluorescent paint.
She is trying to remain in good spirits despite her prognosis.
‘I am out of hospital!’ she tweeted Saturday afternoon. ‘Still covered in tear gas and blood, kinda pissed that I can’t go get like a steak or a super artery-clogging cheeseburger cause everything is shut down, but there’s a couple beers in the fridge and there’s worse things than a lack of cheese fries.’
The devastation caused by rioting and looting in multiple US cities has prompted the black mayors of Washington, DC, and Atlanta, Georgia, to plead for an end to violent demonstrations.
Washington, DC: By Sunday afternoon, thousands of protesters had gathered outside the White House
Minneapolis, Minnesota: Businesses were burned to the ground in Minneapolis during Saturday night’s protests. Images show volunteers digging and searching through debris of businesses along East Lake Street on Sunday for possible charred remains of rumored victims trapped in the building
New York, New York: Other images show glass and debris outside a Verizon store (pictured)
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, both Democratic women, said while they support Americans’ right to protest, they wish it was not at the expense of the safety of their community.
Authorities across the nation have arrested more than 1,400 people in 17 cities since Thursday.
At least three people have died since the protests began following the horrifying death of Floyd.
‘We’re sending a very clear message to people that they have a right to exercise their First Amendment rights, but not to destroy our city,’ Bowser told NBC’s Chuck Todd in a joint interview with Lance Bottoms on Sunday morning.
‘So we saw a level of just destruction and mayhem among some that was maddening,’ she continued. ‘Our crews are out right now cleaning up our city, and we are working with all of our law enforcement partners to ensure calm in our city.’
Bowser’s comments came as rioters took to the streets in DC over the weekend, clashing with law enforcement all over the city – and even in front of the White House.
Lance Bottoms told Meet the Press that 157 people were arrested in Atlanta.
She admitted that ‘there are no easy answers’ on how to respond to Floyd’s death or race relations between black people and cops, but agreed with Boswer in asserting that ‘the solution is not to destroy our cities’.
Protests have escalated across the country all week after video emerged of Floyd being killed during the arrest in Minneapolis.
Protests have escalated across the country all week after video emerged of Floyd being killed during the arrest in Minneapolis
White officer Derek Chauvin was captured on video by a bystander kneeling on Floyd’s neck as he begged for air
The cellphone video footage showed that Floyd was handcuffed as four police officers pinned him down.
Derek Chauvin, a 44-year-old white cop who has since been arrested, is seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes as the victim repeatedly said he could not breathe.
Chauvin was taken into custody on Friday after protesters called for him to be arrested – and he was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Floyd’s family, as well as protesters, are calling for the three other officers involved in the arrest – J Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao – to be charged, too.