These Frontline Workers Are Protecting Protestors at All Costs
For volunteer medics and legal observers, confronting police violence can come with mental and physical tolls
Shortly after midnight in Seattle in June, cars passed the street where Danielle Meehan kneeled with an unconscious girl lying on a cot. Aubreanna Inda had been hit by a flash-bang grenade in her chest, and she’d lost her pulse several times.
A registered nurse, Meehan had been volunteering as a medic at protests in Seattle since May 30, following George Floyd’s murder. Meehan and her team of medics had shifted Inda to a “safe location” five blocks away from the protest zone; they evacuated her after police launched flash-bang grenades on the crowd of protestors.
When Meehan asked for an ambulance on the 911 call, the dispatcher told her they couldn’t come to their location, which was still too close to police activity. “They asked us if we could get to an intersection two blocks away,” Meehan said.
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But when they reached the intersection, no ambulance was in sight. Meehan says they had to take Inda to the hospital themselves.
Inda survived, but Meehan remained frustrated. “As a health care professional, I’m used to working with [police and dispatchers] and seeing patients in the hospital,” she said. “It was mind-blowing that they weren’t there to protect the people at the time.” The Seattle Police Department declined requests for comment.
Meehan is one of hundreds of medics, legal observers, and frontline workers across the country who care for people at protests while facing institutional neglect and police violence themselves. Often, medics and legal observers are caught in the line of fire when police deploy tear gas, rubber bullets, and other violent tactics upon protesters.
Some frontline workers allege police have targeted them specifically. Legal observers and medics in different cities across the United States told GEN…