4.1 Republican National Convention

4.1.1 Miami, Florida

The first use of a thermal fogger to deploy chemical weapons in the US that I have been able to uncover occured on August 8th 1968, during the “Liberty City Riots”, which took place in the midst of the 1968 Republican National Convention (RNC) in Miami, Florida (Tschenschlok 1995, 1996, McArdle 2018). A white reporter with the Miami Herald attempted to gain access to rally of concerned Black people that was meant to be only among Black people that was occurring in Liberty City, a Black neighborhood, on August 7th (Tschenschlok 1995, 1996). When the reporter was ejected from the rally, Miami police responded with a large and heavy presence and during the standoff, a white motorist with a “Wallace for President” bumper sticker attempted to drive through but was met with resistance and drove into another car, and fled the scene on foot (Tschenschlok 1995, Lorentze 2018).

Miami police used chemical weapons the night of the 7th, but the fogger did not make an appearance until the subsequent day. Local, state, and federal officials met with Black organizational representatives the night of the 7th and had agreed to continue discussions the morning of the 8th, but instead sent staffers rather than appear themselves, which effectively ended discussions (Tschenschlok 1995, 1996). Apparently, Miami Police Department was unable to manage the situation and Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) was called in by the city (Tschenschlok 1995).

FHP used a truck with multiple foggers (Lorentze 2018), described as “essentially a modified version of an insect-control machine” that “spread a thick fog of tear gas throughout the riot zone” (Tschenschlok 1995).

FHP used the truck-mounted thermal foggers indiscriminately and caused visible symptoms (gagging, etc.) in all present, including a 5-month old (McArdle 2018). The fog quickly spread into neighborhood homes, forcing residents outside to seek fresh air (Tschenschlok 1995).