Pepper Spraying Peaceful Protestors Continues; This Time at UC Davis

It’s becom­ing a trend. Around the coun­try, police­men are pep­per spray­ing peace­ful pro­tes­tors. It start­ed in NYC when Tony Bologna, one of New York’s finest, pep­per sprayed a group of young women already cor­doned off by a police bar­ri­er. Next they man­aged to get an 84 year old woman in Seat­tle. And now Lieu­tenant John Pike gives UC Davis pro­tes­tors a face full of pep­per spray, even though they were peace­ful­ly seat­ed on the ground. To make things worse, “When stu­dents cov­ered their eyes with their cloth­ing, police forced open their mouths and pep­per-sprayed down their throats,” or so claims Nathan Brown, an assis­tant pro­fes­sor in the Eng­lish Depart­ment. (You can read a first-hand stu­dent account here.)

Ini­tial­ly the chan­cel­lor of the uni­ver­si­ty, Lin­da P.B. Kate­hi, appeared to defend the police action. But, as the video above went viral, she began chang­ing her tune and call­ing for an inves­ti­ga­tion into the mat­ter. Noth­ing like a lit­tle trans­paren­cy … and some pub­lic sham­ing (below) … to make peo­ple see the light.

You can read a fuller account of Fri­day’s events in the UC Davis news­pa­per. Also don’t miss the paper’s col­lec­tion of pho­tos on Flickr. And I’d also rec­om­mend the analy­sis by James Fal­lows over at The Atlantic. Here’s the mon­ey quote:

I can’t see any legit­i­mate basis for police action like what is shown here. Watch that first minute and think how we’d react if we saw it com­ing from some riot-con­trol unit in Chi­na, or in Syr­ia. The calm of the offi­cer who walks up and in a leisure­ly way pep­per-sprays unarmed and pas­sive peo­ple right in the face? We’d think: this is what hap­pens when author­i­ty is unac­count­able and has lost any sense of human con­nec­tion to a sub­ject pop­u­la­tion. That’s what I think here.

And per­haps we can add this thought. If you’re the chan­cel­lor, the per­son charged with over­see­ing the edu­ca­tion and wel­fare of stu­dents, you should­n’t rec­og­nize the prob­lem with Fri­day’s events only when the polit­i­cal heat gets turned up. Talk about a lack of human con­nec­tion.…


Offi­cers in pep­per spray inci­dent placed on leave

Learn about pep­per spray and the harm it does

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Comments (4)
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  • Michael Dougherty says:

    This police behav­ior is beyond shame­ful. Our con­sti­tu­tion guar­an­tees free­dom of assem­bly and speech. This is not con­di­tioned by agree­ment with pre­vail­ing myths about the Amer­i­can dream, now appar­ent­ly in its death rat­tle.

    The essence of these protests by the 99% is pure patri­o­tism, not crim­i­nal­i­ty. The crowds protest the crim­i­nal­i­ty of the 1%. The same 1% that has destroyed pen­sion sys­tems that iron­i­cal­ly include the police.

    One can only hope that we do not return to the state vio­lence of Kent State. We must nev­er for­get our his­to­ry. In those times, the old despised the young pro­test­ers, today we are res­o­nant souls. If our sys­tem does not serve the many, it must be revised. This revi­sion is clear­ly over­due. It has been a long time in the mak­ing.

    No one in pow­er should imag­ine that the dis­con­tent is not uni­ver­sal, cut­ting across all cit­i­zens. There is no ques­tion that there will be broad-based change. The ques­tion is will we make these changes peace­ful­ly and inclu­sive­ly, or will they be borne out of vio­lence. The ear­ly indi­ca­tions are not good.

  • Nathan says:

    Here in Utah a group of Poli­ne­sians were recient­ly pep­per-sprayed. They weren’t even protest­ing… They were just try­ing to do an eth­nic dance at foot­ball game in a rur­al town.

  • Chris says:

    The vio­lence we’ve seen seems nat­ur­al enough to me. Mon­eyed peo­ple and pow­er­ful cor­po­ra­tions have used gov­ern­ment to become more mon­eyed and more pow­er­ful for some three decades. Also, we’ve dehu­man­ized left pro­test­ers at least since the 60s, and con­tin­ue to do so even in the most left-sym­pa­thet­ic parts of the media (The Dai­ly Show and CNN, e.g.), nev­er mind the right. So we have a clash of cir­cum­stances and atti­tudes.

    To my mind the best solu­tion is to fire cops who com­mit vio­lence against peace­ful pro­test­ers. Not to do so, com­bined with the fact that the pro­test­ers are already dehu­man­ized, encour­age more. Peo­ple might review Mil­gram and Zim­bar­do on YouTube for exam­ples of the pow­er of de-human­iza­tion.

  • George Renner says:

    My fam­i­ly has fought for the free­dom of this coun­try since they arrived in the 17th cen­tu­ry and to see what this coun­try has become…
    I find it a deplorable act of bar­barism per­pe­trat­ed by the police on this cam­pus.
    Anoth­er great (and record­ed) act of pow­er going to some­one’s head. If peace­ful demon­stra­tions are done this, what is next? Bet­ter hope none of these guys are on traf­fic duty, they may pis­tol whip you or even shoot you for speed­ing. The soci­ety is break­ing down and this is just anoth­er exam­ple.

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