Protests can be dangerous places, especially demonstrations about police violence where officers use batons, shields, tear gas, rubber bullets and their fists on the participants. That’s why people with medical training ― emergency medical technicians, nurses, doctors and others ― usually come to provide aid , just like they do at other large gatherings. In addition to assaults by police officers , protesters have to worry about violence from counterprotesters, not to mention injuries from simply being in a large crowd and other health care emergencies, like heatstroke. The need for rapid medical assistance is real. Whether these volunteer medics support the aims of Black Lives Matter protesters or not, their purpose is to help anyone who becomes sick or injured. But as police across the United States have made plain ― particularly now, as people take to the streets to protest racism and police violence against Black Americans after a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd last week ― it doesn’t matter who you are or why you’re there: The cops will take you out . On top of instigating violence with peaceful protesters and escalating the demonstrations with shows of force and military-style gear and vehicles (and the actual military ), police officers have targeted essential workers such as health care personnel and food deliverers , as well as journalists , including a HuffPost reporter . Police brutality is wrong under any circumstances, but the instances of medical personnel being assaulted or harassed are deeply troubling. Police used shotguns to fire bean bags filled with lead pellets at an injured protester and the medics trying to assist him during an Austin, Texas, demonstration. Police arrested a physician and journalist who attended a protest in New York City to offer his services as a medical doctor. In Asheville, North Carolina, police officers destroyed a medical assistance tent and the water supplies volunteers brought. During times of war, soldiers aren’t allowed to attack military medics. It’s in the Geneva Convention, which states :
Medical personnel exclusively engaged in the search for, or the collection, transport or treatment of the wounded or sick, or in the prevention of disease, staff exclusively engaged in the administration of medical units and establishments, as well as chaplains attached to the armed forces, shall be respected and protected in all circumstances. Even in their combat-ready armor, with their combat-style rifles and combat-looking vehicles, police officers aren’t soldiers and aren’t trained like soldiers. But if they want to dress up like soldiers, they should be expected, at a minimum, to follow the same rules soldiers do. Love HuffPost? Become a founding member of HuffPost Plus today. Also on HuffPost A protester at an anti-racism demonstration in London on June 3 holds a sign that reads: "Our skin is not a weapon." More Story continues A demonstrator in Brooklyn, New York, calls for justice for George Floyd and other victims of police violence with a sign that reads: "I understand that I will never understand. However, I stand. #peaceandjustice" More Breezy Rose of Kansas posted this photo of her husband holding a sign that says "Stop killing us" and her daughter holding a sign that says "Please don't shoot my dad" on Instagram. In the caption, Breezy wrote: "When I tell you I cried after snapping this picture at a rally for George Floyd today, I sobbed. This is our reality. This is reality for every black person in our country. Today I wept for George Floyd, for Breonna Taylor, for Ahmaud Arbery, for Eric Garner, for Sandra Bland, for Tamir Rice and for so many others. Today I wept for my husband having to teach this to our daughter. And today I wept for our daughter, who has to grow up with this fear. Today, we wept. But tomorrow, we fight." More Demonstrators march near Lafayette Park across from the White House on June 2 in Washington, D.C. The sign on the left says, "I'd like to speak to the manager of systemic racism, please." The other reads: "Black Lives Matter." More Demonstrators protest police brutality at Bayfront Park in downtown Miami on May 30. The sign reads: "No lives matter til Black lives matter. #saytheirnames" More Courtney, a nurse, attends a sit-in protest in Saint Paul, Minnesota, on June 2. (She was wearing a mask but removed it for the photo, she said). The sign reads: "What color am I when I save your life? Signed, a Black R.N." More Atlanta protester Maya Nicole is working with the organization Millennial Civil Rights on a campaign called #WeSaveUs. Her sign says: "We deserve more than justice. We deserve a better reality." More New York City demonstrators walk from Foley Square past 1 Police Plaza on their way to Washington Square Park for a peaceful moment of reflection for those killed by police. The sign on the left reads: "We pay you to protect us, not kill us." More A woman holds up a sign with the Martin Luther King Jr. quote "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" during a protest in Manhattan Beach, California, on June 2. More A man holds up a sign that says "Am I next?" at a Manhattan Beach, California, protest on June 2. More An NYPD officer walks by a banner reading "Say Their Names" on June 1 in Brooklyn, New York. More During a June 1 protest near the White House over the death of George Floyd, a demonstrator holds a sign that says: "It could have been my son." More Protester holds a sign that says "Indifference is evil" during an anti-racism demonstration in London on June 3. More Protesters gather outside the residence of Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on June 1. One man's sign reads: "Video taker: A national hero." More On June 1, a protester in Brooklyn, New York, holds a sign that reads: "4 my future Black kids." More A close-up of a sign that says: "The colour of my skin should not place a target on my back" during a May 31 protest outside Cardiff Castle in Wales. More A woman holds a drawing of George Floyd with "I can't breathe" written underneath as thousands of people join a Black Lives Matter march through central London on May 31. More Protesters hold posters and shout slogans as they march in central London on June 3. The sign in the foreground says: "You have no authority to kill a minority." More A seated protester holds a sign during a June 2 demonstration in Los Angeles over the death of George Floyd. More A protester holds up a piece of yellow plastic that reads, "Don't shoot" while participating in a demonstration outside the Forest Hills MBTA Station in Boston on June 2. More In Boyertown, Pennsylvania, a protester holds a sign that says "Charge the other 3," referring to the other three police officers present when their colleague kneeled on George Floyd's neck and killed him. The former officers have since been charged with aiding and abetting. More Demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd hold up placards near Lafayette Park across from the White House on June 2 in Washington, D.C. The sign in the center reads: "Who do u protect?" More A protester kneels as he holds a placard that says "Stop killer cops!!!!" in front of a row of Army National Guard troops during a June 2 demonstration in Hollywood, California. More A protester holds a sign that says "Blue Lives Murder" on May 29 in Minneapolis. More In Sydney, protesters prepare to march on Parliament House at the Archibald Fountain in Hyde Park on June 2. The one in the foreground reads: "We're not trying to start a race war. We're trying to end one." More Protest signs posted outside the U.S. Consulate General in Edinburgh, Scotland, in response to the police killing of George Floyd. One reads: "Stop looting Black lives. End police brutality." More New York protesters take part in a June 1 demonstration in response to the death of George Floyd. The sign on the left reads: "In unity we have strength;" the one on the right reads: "We have suffered enough." More People shout slogans during a June 1 protest at Dam Square in Amsterdam over the death of George Floyd. The banner reads: "Police violence is not an accident." More People carry a banner that says "We the people refuse to see cops murder citizens and walk free" as they march to protest the death of George Floyd on May 31 in Portland, Oregon. More A woman holds up a sign that says "Our black children need a future" during a May 31 protest outside Cardiff Castle in Wales/ More During a Black Lives Matter protest in London's Hyde Park on June 3, a protester holds up a sign that says "White silence = Black death." More A protester holds a sign with the names of victims of police brutality during a rally in Coral Gables, Florida, on May 30. More This article originally appeared on HuffPost.