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Christine Karatnytsky

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Here lies Ferguson's chemical munitions arsenal — in photos

A survey of riot controls left on the streets.

For over a week, law enforcement in Ferguson, Missouri, have been trying out a wide variety of so-called "less-lethal" weapons as they attempt to disperse people protesting the shooting of Michael Brown. To figure out exactly what weapons were being used, Robin Jacks (@caulkthewagon) and Joanne Stocker (@sabzbrach) have been kind enough to compile a spreadsheet documenting the spent munition shells left behind after smoke clears. Two main companies — Combined Systems and Defense Technology — are apparently supplying police with most of their less-lethal riot gear. But as protests continue to unfold, more may emerge. (Amtec Less-Lethal Systems, for one.)

Here, you'll find pictures of some of what's been documented on social media, as well as links leading to more information about these weapons — including, in some cases, how much they cost. It's unclear at this point exactly how much money has been spent on these weapons or where the money is coming from (in the case of Missouri's police forces, Jacks and Stocker have pointed toward a Missouri state contract for a relatively small amount). But as time goes on, hopefully a national discussion will move in this direction: Where is all this stuff coming from and who's paying for it?

    Company: Combined SYSTEMS

  1. 12ga Super-Sock Bean Bag Impact Round

    12-ga Super Sock beanbag round

    What are these? Bean bag rounds. Not too difficult of a concept: load your 12-gauge shotgun with shells filled with bean bags. "Less-lethal" than what typically comes out of a shotgun. You can read more about beanbag rounds here.

    What should I know about them? These are available to pretty much anyone at the OfficerStore; $32.25 for a box of five. The OfficerStore sales page advertises "unprecedented accuracy and consistent impact at all ranges." It claims this product is "safer" (than what, we can only guess actual shotgun rounds) and that it provides "more effective stopping power from 5–20 yards." Also: "No frisbee or wind surfing effects" — because who wants that in the middle of Missouri or on the streets of Manhattan? (Photo by @RoadRunnerSTL)

  2. Outdoor 37mm Short Range Projectiles

    Outdoor 37mm Short Range Projectiles

    What are these? Tear gas canisters. These are fired into crowds using a riot gun.

    What should I know about them? Tactical Products Group has these for sale, with the addendum that they're for "[law enforcement, Private Security & Military only" — meaning these are not something that just anyone can purchase. Product description: "A dual rimmed aluminum cartridge with a single projectile." When launched, "the projectile emits a smoke or irritant agents via rapid burning" — Verge emphasis. These come in three types: $25.87 apiece for the 3210 model; $32.87 for the 3220; and $32.30 for the 3230. (Photo by Alice Speri.)

  3. 37MM .50 Caliber Sting Ball Canisters

    37MM .50 Caliber Sting Ball Canisters

    What am I looking at? A sting ball canister alongside the sting balls loaded inside of it by the manufacturer. Much like tear gas canisters, these are also shot out of a riot gun, but instead of releasing tear gas upon impact, they shoot out these rubber balls.

    What should I know about these things? Available only through special order, according to this spreadsheet, these, like tear gas, are not available to just anyone. (Photo by Greenz Productions.)

  4. 40 MM Launchers

    40 MM launchers

    What is this? This is what a riot gun looks like.

    What you should know about them: A grenade launcher for tear gas canisters, these weapons are "manufactured using 4140 hardened steel, 6061-T6 mil-spec anodized aluminum and DuPont super tough glass filled nylon." They are "light weight, versatile and used [all over the] world by police and corrections officers." Manufacturer suggests that "the end-user has the option of" choosing "fixed or collapsible stock," but who's really the end-user here? Is it the person who's using the riot gun, or the person who's at the receiving end of the riot gun's blast? (Photo by Jon Swaine.)

  5. 62-Series 59MM Grenade CS

    62-Series 59MM Grenade CS

    What are these? Tear gas canisters, but instead of being launched out of a riot gun, these are thrown like a grenade.

    What should I know about them? Here are these. CS somehow stands for orthochlorobenzylidene malononitrile. Read more on the effects here. Among the effects (apparently animals were harmed in the testing of this equipment): "examination of rabbits exposed to CS revealed an increase in number of goblet cells in the respiratory tract." More: "experiments in dogs showed that the animals dying as a result of exposure to very high concentrations died from obstruction of the upper respiratory tract." In humans: "The first symptom is a burning sensation in the throat, developing into pain and extending to the trachea and bronchi. At a later stage a sensation of suffocation may occur, often accompanied by fear." (Photo by Brian Heffernan.)

  6. 6343 OC/CS

    6343 OC/CS

    What are these? More tear gas canisters.

    What should I know about them? Product description here. Interesting to think about these as things that might end up in the mail. When these get shipped, they're called "Ammunition Smoke," which means they are prohibited in your standard United States Postal Services shipments. Which seems good. (Photo by Paulina Leonovich.)

  7. 7290M Mini Flash Bang

    7290M Mini Flash Bang

    What are these? Flash bang. Like a grenade, but emitting a bright light ("flash") and a loud noise ("bang") instead of something more obviously dangerous.

    What should I know about them? From the Combined Systems site: "Flash-Bangs are used by special tactical units during hostage rescue and high-risk warrants. It is an ATF controlled Class-C explosive device that emits a bright light and thunderous noise to distract potentially dangerous individuals." These may sound relatively harmless (pretty close to being actual smoke and mirrors), but they can cause serious harm. I refer you to this week-old story out of Atlanta: Actual sentence from that article: "'Baby Boo Boo' spent weeks in a burn unit after a SWAT team's flash grenade exploded near his face." (Photo via Robin Jacks.)

  8. CTS 9590 Sting-Ball Grenade

    Sting Ball 9590 Grenade

    What am I looking at? Same as the sting ball canister above, but in grenade form.

    What should I know about it? When people refer to a grenade — likely, if they're anything like me, thinking of the Pineapple-looking spheroids from World War II newsreels and films (because apparently I'm 90-years-old) — they're normally talking about something called a "fragmentation grenade," which detonates either when it hits something or after a specified amount of time. These grenades fire out lethal munitions made of metal or wire; they're designed to kill. Sting-ball grenades — much like the sting-ball canisters above — are basically the same thing, but send out hard rubber instead. The goal is to be non-lethal. Check out models here. (Photo from Majic 100.3 radio station in St. Louis.)

  9. Company: Defense Technology

  10. 60 cal. stinger 37mm black powder rubber ball

    60 cal. stinger 37mm black powder rubber ball

    What am I looking at? Pretty much the same as a sting ball canister, different manufacturer. Also, much more in-pieces

    What should I know about them? From the sales sheet: "The 60-Cal Stinger is generally deployed in low trajectories or skip fired in the general direction (non-target specific) of the intended targets." Apparently these things can be problematic if the "operator" sets them off at too low a trajectory. I'm getting that impression based on this ominous line: "it is necessary to keep the trajectory low so the projectile spread will not engage the subject above the breast line." One wonders how that potential problem was discovered. Hoping they're not testing this out on rabbits and dogs and children. (Photo by Christine Karatnytsky.)

  11. Han-ball grenade

    Han-ball grenade

    What are these? Sting ball grenade, different manufacturer.

    What should I know about them? From the site: "The Han-Ball™ CS Grenade is an outdoor use grenade expelling its payload in approximately 15-20 seconds. The rubber ball round has an over all size of 4.8 in. tall, including the fuze head, and 3.1 in. diameter. This launchable grenade holds approximately 1.6 oz. of active agent which is expelled through three ports around the equator of the ball. Due the intense heat generated by this grenade, it should not be used inside a building or near flammable material" — emphasis mine. (Photo by Meru Muad'Dib.)

  12. Riot Control Continuous Discharge Grenade CS

    Riot Control Continuous Discharge Grenade CS

    What are these? Tear gas canister.

    What should I know about them? From the sales sheet: "Designed specifically for outdoor use in crowd control situations, the Riot Control Grenade is a high volume continuous burn canister that expels its payload in approximately 30 - 40 seconds." More: "The device should be deployed utilizing wind advantage. It should not be deployed onto rooftops, in crawl spaces, or indoors due to its fire-producing capability. Hand throw or launch use only. Launching of grenades will provide deploying officers additional stand-off distances." (Photo by Zeke Johnson.)

  13. Triple Chaser Separating Canister Pyrotechnic Grenade DT102

    Triple Chaser Separating Canister Pyrotechnic Grenade DT102

    What are these? Spent shell of a tear gas canister.

    What should I know about them? From the site: "The Triple-Chaser® CS consists of three separate canisters pressed together with separating charges between each. When deployed, the canisters separate and land approximately 20 feet apart allowing increased area coverage in a short period of time. This grenade can be hand thrown or launched from a fired delivery system." Also: "It has an approximate burn time of 20-30 seconds." (Photo by fl0wn.)

  14. The whole shebang

    The whole shebang

    What are these? This appears to be everything deployed on the streets of Ferguson in one photo.

    What should I know about them? From one tweet by photojournalist Bobby Hughes that pretty much sums up what we're looking at: "Found on the streets this morning near the QT and McDonalds." So it goes in Ferguson; and so it goes in the United States in 2014.