The ACLU of Ohio filed a federal lawsuit against Columbus police July 12, contending that three protesters' constitutional rights were violated when officers pepper sprayed them during a Jan. 30 demonstration against President Donald Trump's travel ban.
The plaintiffs' detailed recounting of the night includes this passage about one of the protesters, Harrison Kallner: “As a result of the pepper spray, Harrison suffered burns of the eyes, throat and face. Harrison later sought first aid from some of the demonstrators who were less injured. One woman, who was breastfeeding, provided Harrison with her breast milk, which she used to flush Harrison's eyes.”
The plaintiffs' narrative doesn't mention how, in the urgency of the moment, the breast-milk idea arose or how it was expressed, so to speak. Nor does it say whether it was an advisable pepper spray remedy.
It's widely reported in breastfeeding advocacy and support resources that mothers around the world have used breast milk as a treatment for their babies' eye infections. Several medical studies have found breast milk slightly less effective than antibiotics, but it's infinitely cheaper, and it's not considered dangerous.
When it comes to treating pepper-sprayed eyes, there's no shortage of suggested remedies. Pepper spray commonly consists of capsaicin, a product of chilis, dissolved in oil. It causes a burning sensation but no permanent eye damage.
Protesters have been known to arrive at demonstrations with squirt bottles full of milk (bovine variety), believing it soothes pepper-sprayed eyes better than water. Antacids are popular, too, though some medical professionals caution that those treatments aren't sterile. They're more likely to suggest rinsing with lots of water or a saline solution. Or just plain blinking. Oddly, nobody recommends rinsing with chocolate milk, which seems like an oversight. It might not help with the pain, but your tears would taste delicious.