Using AI and Film to Track Tear Gas Use Against Civilians

Filmmaker Laura Poitras’ Oscar-winning documentary Citizenfour centers on the pale, calm face of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden holed up in a plain Hong Kong hotel room. Her latest star is even more impassive—an aluminum tear gas grenade—but it's seen amid surreal pulsating color. The 10-minute short, Triple Chaser, is named for that tear gas canister, a branded product of Florida’s Safariland Group that human rights groups say has been used by US border agents against migrants in Tijuana and by Israeli forces in Palestine. The film, a collaboration with the nonprofit Forensic Architecture, documents how that organization is devel­oping machine-learning software that could help uncover where Triple Chaser canisters are being launched or thrown. It also accuses prominent …