A 21-year-old Indiana protester has lost one eye after being hit in the face by a tear gas canister when he was attending a demonstration on Saturday.
The man, Balin Brake, who lives in Fort Wayne and works part-time as a video editor for a local news station, said that he suffered the devastating injury at around 5.30 pm on Saturday in Fort Wayne while attending protest movement over the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man who was suffocated to death by a Minneapolis police officer on Memorial Day.
The day when Brake lost his eye
Brake underwent surgery on Sunday as the injury was severe. He later told DailyMail that when the protesters were in the streets, the local cops yelled "disperse" and then deployed tear gas canisters into the crowd.
He mentioned that "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, 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 is a white American, revealed that he was protesting peacefully as he believes that anger and violence will not fix what people are facing in the U.S. at this time. But, after a Fort Wayne Police Department Officer "unnecessarily and improperly" fired a tear gas canister at him, his eye was ruptured.
Through the surgery, the doctors had removed his eye. Now, instead of his real eye, he will have a prosthetic fitted in the following weeks after having surgery to repair his broken occipital bone.
While posting his post-operation photo from the hospital, Brake told his twitter followers that:
"I might have to have surgery for broken bones in my face within weeks to come but for now all that happened is I did end up losing my eye. This pales in comparison to the hardships African Americans have endured for decades. Stand up for what u believe in."
Later, a netizen tweeted that "Balin and Linda, do u 2 regret protesting? I mean I understand yall wanted to change stuff about the police killings but was it worth becoming permanently half blind?" In response, Brake stated that "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"
It should be mentioned here, Linda Tirado is a journalist who was left blind in one eye, just a day before Brake's incident. She claimed that she was struck by a rubber bullet in Minneapolis on Friday.
Protests for justice
Brake told Daily Mail that if he can go out on the streets for the protests at this time, he will do that while mentioning that "police need policing." He mentioned that even though his skin color is white which is a privilege in the U.S., "I fully intend to use my privilege to advocate and continue to help my fellow people. Black Lives Matter."
The Public Information Officer for Fort Wayne Police Department, Sofia Rosales-Scatena said, "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 Saturday's protest."
She mentioned that as per the officers on the ground during the protests, Brake was still in the area after authorities asked them to leave the area. The statement also added that the gas was deployed in the area and the protester bent over to pick up the canister to throw it back at the officers as many others were trying to do the same.
In response to the statement, Brake mentioned that he never attempted to pick up a canister.