Politics & Law

Pepper spray

Rosemary Joyce

The images are horrifying.

A group of UC Davis students sits on the ground, echoing generations of predecessors engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience. A police officer displays a canister to the students standing around, then turns and sprays down at the seated students, walking back and forth, orange liquid streaming out. A second officer comes from behind the seated students, first spraying some on the back, then steps to the other side and continues directing spray toward the seated, huddled protestors.

The Christian Science Monitor describes dispassionately and accurately what led up to this moment. Here’s the best rationalization that the UC Davis police came up with to justify their actions as reported by the CSM:

According to police and university officials, the officers (35 or so) felt surrounded and threatened, even though there is no video or other evidence indicating that.

What is plentifully in evidence in the videos of the incident is an attack on students who are not seen to move or lift a hand to ward off the chemical attack to which they are subjected.

Because that is what pepper spray is: a chemical agent that Fairness and Accuracy in Media notes cannot be used in war. Under the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, it is classified as a riot control agent, which while prohibited in war, is allowed in use for riot control. So perhaps we are seeing a new definition of riot, in which the rioters sit calmly on the ground.

How did we get to a point where this substance is used routinely, casually, against motionless, unthreatening students?

Pepper spray uses the fiery power of chiles. According to FAIR, it was adapted in civilian policing from the US Postal Service, where it was approved for use against dogs that might attack an unwary mail carrier. In the first instance, then, its use against human beings rests on an equation of the person with an uncontrolled animal.

Pepper spray was in fact promoted specifically to be used for “incapacitating dangerous or violently resisting suspects”.

Media reports quote a former Baltimore police official, Charles Kelley, describing the UC Davis use of pepper spray as following “standard” police practice. That may well be true– but true and right are not the same thing. What we are seeing here is abuse of a substance originally approved for one set of circumstances– people “violently resisting”– as a general tool to disperse crowds exercising their free speech rights nonviolently.

And while what we saw may be “standard” practice– as described in testimony from Methodist minister Rich Lang, attacked in Seattle while wearing his clerical alb, stole, and cross– in this case, “standard” police practice violates the guidelines that are supposed to govern the use of this chemical weapon.

The ACLU reported in 1995 that no Federal oversight of use of pepper spray existed, and specifically noted that in California, police training had “failed to caution police that pepper spray should not be used in excess of a single one-second burst”. It appears that things have not improved in the intervening years, to judge from the video showing UC Davis police spraying continuously for many seconds. The ACLU report includes a model policy that would call for use of other, less forceful, techniques before escalating. They recommended pepper spray be

used only against violent or hostile subjects. It is a defensive weapon intended for use when attempting to subdue an unarmed attacker or to overcome resistance likely to result in injury to either the suspect, officer or bystander.

Guidelines for the use of pepper spray in the California State University system state that

the use of chemical agents…shall be limited to the protection of life or property when other means of lawful force are either unsuitable or unavailable.

Neither life nor property was endangered by the protest at UC Davis, and many other means of lawful force were available– including arresting the protestors.

The CSU guidelines specifically define the conditions for the use of pepper spray in what the report– rather chillingly– calls “the normal escalation of force”. It defines the appropriate situations as

to gain control of an unarmed attacker, or to overcome resistance likely to result in injury to either a suspect, a victim, or the officer.

Again, there were no attackers here– except the police; and nothing visible seems “likely to result in injury”– except the attack by the police.

Most damning is the contrast between the CSU guidelines and what the UC Davis officers did. The CSU guidelines say that pepper spray

is to be sprayed in a one second burst. It is not meant to be used repeatedly on an individual, or for long periods of time.

The emphasis on “one second burst” is in the original, not my addition. The UC Davis officer maintained a continous stream of pepper spray for far longer, and moved back and forth– that is, he repeatedly sprayed the same individuals.

UC Berkeley guidelines, dated January 7 of this year, are contained in an 86 page manual on Police Policies and Administrative Procedures. Starting with Section 812 on page 29 of the PDF document, the UC Berkeley policy describes pepper spray (here formally listed as Oleoresin Capsicum) as

used to minimize the potential for injury to officers, offenders, or other persons. They should be used only in situations where such force reasonably appears justified and necessary.

This is, disturbingly, a less restrictive standard than the CSU policy, dated in September of 2000. And unlike the CSU policy, the UC Berkeley version includes no guidelines at all about how this dangerous chemical agent should be used.

A report in 1998 on an inquiry into UC police use of pepper spray against demonstrators protesting California Proposition 209 raised concerns about the use of pepper spray at that time that resonate today:

the board was concerned about the clarity and wisdom of the UCPD’s policy for the use of pepper spray in crowd control situations and about the adequacy of the UCPD’s pepper spray training…[the report called for] improved pepper spray training and an overall review of the effectiveness of pepper spray for crowd control and in less specialized uses.

In 2000, a civilian commission investigating use of pepper spray by the New York City Police Department described guidelines for justified use emphasizing situations where a suspect was resisting arrest or violent. Here, as in the CSU guidelines, the technique advocated involved short bursts from at least three feet away. The report notes that the NYPD

Patrol Guide prohibits the use of pepper spray against subjects who passively resist (e.g., going limp, offering no active physical resistance).

Promoted as a relatively mild police technique, pepper spray was reported to have killed at least 100 people as of 2000.

Legal defense sources are unanimous in questioning the widespread use of pepper spray. The National Police Accountability Project of the National Lawyer’s Guild distributes a report by Attorney Lynne Wilson that explains how we got to this place, including documenting the advocacy of pepper spray by an FBI agent later convicted of taking bribes from a manufacturer.

Attorney Wilson describes legal decisions supporting peaceful demonstrators who were affected by pepper spray used by police, in situations that clearly do not meet even police policy guidelines, dating back to the mid-1990s. In an Illinois court ruling in 1996 against police who used pepper spray on 2000 labor activists, a judge wrote

“What value would the First Amendment carry if its demonstrators could be dispersed or intimidated by police brutality or unnecessary force?”

So what is there to do? Chris Hoofnagle of UC Berkeley suggests that the UC police be placed under faculty administration, rather than (as is presently the case) under a pure administrator. He writes

The long term interest of Berkeley is not served well by the spectacles generated by last week’s beatings by outside law enforcement on our campus, or in the criminalization of student behavior generally. They are embarrassing to our campus. An academic manager of the UCPD, be it the Provost or the many faculty on campus with expertise in police supervision, would understand the special context we operate in, and the special duties we owe to students.

Sound utopian– something that only an academic community could imagine? Well, let me introduce you to Norm Stamper, former Seattle police chief, notably serving during the WTO protests of 1999, marked by intense and violent police actions against protestors. Writing in The Nation, Stamper calls for new models of policing to reverse what he characterizes as a steady “militarization” that leads police to view the people who they are supposed to protect as the enemy. “How do we proceed?” he asks:

By building a progressive police organization, created by rank-and-file officers, “civilian” employees and community representatives. Such an effort would include plans to flatten hierarchies; create a true citizen review board with investigative and subpoena powers; and ensure community participation in all operations, including policy-making, program development, priority-setting and crisis management. In short, cops and citizens would forge an authentic partnership in policing the city. And because partners do not act unilaterally, they would be compelled to keep each other informed, and to build trust and mutual respect—qualities sorely missing from the current equation.

Partners in policing might have helped prevent the uncalled for violence of the responses that have been seen, not just on campuses but country-wide, to legitimate voices of protest. They might even come to the conclusion that there is no place in civilian policing for a substance proven to kill, and intended to cause intense pain. There is a word for that: torture.

Bookmark and Share
Comments to "Pepper spray":
    • Anabel Anderson

      You better check around, there are videos of the incident. You have to see the whole picture. Police do not want to use pepper spray; it affects them also. But go back to the night before and find out how many times the people were told to leave, then the next day, and the hours leading up to the incident. Then how the people surrounded the police. Do you know what they said to the police? Are you sure they didn’t threaten them to let the others go? People are so quick to assume the short clips showing what appears to be police brutality are all there is but they won’t take the time to look at the other side.

      [Report abuse]

    • Nicole

      I’d like to commend you for this very informative and enlightening post.

      I live in Greece and could not decide if the footage from UCDavis made me want to laugh or cry. Or both, in alternate combinations. We have a different set of problems here, with mass protests, strikes, riots, and with a grave blurring of the lines vis-a-vis police brutality and police passivity, justified (mob) anger or criminal behavior on the part of protesters.

      Yet living in a country that has memorialized its Restoration to Democracy from a dictatorial regime, a restoration won, in part, by the indomitable spirit of students who, having “violated” the law by occupying the Polytechnic, would broadcast to the “free world” the cry of the “free students — free Greeks” for Democracy, I feel a horrible chill when I see this video – and others like it. Impeding traffic? You have no idea what that even means, unless you’ve had to walk AROUND a protest for 5 hours to get home!

      But in any event, circumvent! Arrest! Detain! Maybe, just maybe, listen to the students’ message. But for crying out loud, don’t spray people like they’re insects under a can of RAID!!

      Those who find little wrong with this behavior might do well to remember that the right, the duty, and the privilege to have a free opinion is hard won by the struggles of those before us — and so easily lost by the actions of a few, and the acquiescence of many… And to the Faculty, your profession is not JUST a job; you are entrusted with the utmost calling, that of molding the thoughtful mind. This presupposes the analogous ethos, too.

      [Report abuse]

    • Ben

      What police brutality?
      I saw pepper spray, the lowest level of force available to a police officer being used to force people who were blocking a roadway to move. They refused reasonable and lawful orders from a lawful authority and police moved to the lowest level of force available to force compliance.

      Their freedom of speech was not impinged in the slightest. The only thing removed was their freedom to impede traffic along a public road. Please note, that last bit isn’t in the constitution, and is explicitly prohibited under the classic “where my nose begins” interpretation of free expression.

      I would have considered the officers incompetent if they did not use pepper spray before using physical force. There would have been police brutality if they had wrestled people off and handcuffed them one by one, and Lord help us if tasers had been brought out. Then people would have actually been hurt.

      [Report abuse]

    • First, the only mention of the word “brutality” in my original post is in a quote from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals– specifically characterizing the use of pepper spray against protesters. That court did find that using pepper spray against demonstrators was undue force the threat of which would have a chilling effect on free speech.

      Second, you imagine that the police had to use violent methods. I argue, as (now) does the Chancellor of UC Davis, that the police violence was an unnecessary escalation. Citing the protesters and proceeding to arrest them without pepper spraying them was an untested move that should have preceded the violence, precisely because in the tradition of nonviolent civil disobedience, protesters refuse “lawful orders” in order to dramatize the unreasonable nature of the law itself. That’s the “disobedience” part.

      What you are describing– the pre-emptive use of force– is a police state. It is not what our society should be, and it is not what a campus, in particular, is supposed to be. Your description of the scene is quite misleading. The students at Davis were not blocking a road; they were sitting on a path. The only people whose passage they were impeding were the police– and as the videos show, the police were quite capable of stepping over them.

      Finally, your assertion that those hit by pepper spray had not “actually been hurt” suggests that you do not understand what pepper spray is or the effects it has. Try reading some of the documents to which I linked.

      [Report abuse]

    • Josue Lozano

      I am a student from Birbeck University, London. The scenes we have witnessed were utterly horrendous. How can a education system recover thrust from students when it has been already broken?. How a nation can you claim publicly to the world that other countries, specially those rich in natural resources, should be heard in their claims against injustice and unfairness and be “so active” in defend their rights to protest when hypocritically you pepper spray, beat, battered, and injure peaceful protesters outside a campus? Those scenes were a disgrace to the world community. Here in London the impact was massive.
      Last autumn we have serious problems with rioters in the middle of London and even with extreme violence from rioters the use of those “torture tactics” never were used. I am completely shock to read about your police’s “standard procedures” dealing with peaceful protesters.
      Ohio’s shooting in the 1970 at University of Kent to a peaceful protest demonstration that resulted in the dead of 4 students looks more present than ever. History seems to repeat itself.
      History also teach us that “People who live in glass houses should not throw stones”.

      [Report abuse]

    • Doug Comer

      I have been so appalled by this that I feel incapable of saying anything helpful. I simply can’t imagine how anyone could decide to inflict such pain on a group of young people who were not harming anyone or destroying anything. Perhaps when I absorb that I will be able think about these events in a broader, political and social context. Thank you for helping me begin that process!

      [Report abuse]

    • Educated Black Woman

      So, let’s talk about another OWS….

      Occupy white supremacy… and the machinery of whiteness…and structural racism…

      When are we going to start talking about why the mainstream media is so ‘horrified’ and concerned, when certain people are ‘victims’ of police violence over others?

      So, you say that “We are the 99%” is a particular socioeconimc class who have, thus far , possessed only 1% of the wealth and resources…

      But what about those of the 99% who are getting represented in the media who have been victims of police violence? Why is it that it takes police violence against seemingly ‘peaceful’ and ‘non-threatening’ white students at a predominantly white university campus for the mainstream to suddenly ‘wake up’ to the police and state sanctioned violence that us brown, black, red, and/or ‘Muslim’ folk have been trying to get mainstream America to give a sh*t about for decades? I think what happened at UC Davis (which is my school by the way), needs to be part of a larger conversation about how the machinery of whiteness (as phrased by Steve Martinot a critical race scholar) still plays out.

      Why are so many in the media giving so much attention to, and are horrified that, this particular group of “innocent” and “peaceful” protestors were pepper-sprayed?

      Can we please have a conversation about how white bodies/white campuses/white middle class spaces are almost always constructed more as “innocent” and “non-threatening” than non-white racialized people who are collectively seen as ‘threatening’, even if they are peaceful ?

      I am not diminishing what has happened at my school, but I think there needs to be this conversation, in general, and talk about the racialized politics of sentimentality, and whose suffering is worth more to the media than others. UC Davis and the town of Davis has had its share of racially profiling black and brown people and it seems like no one has really given a care, or that much of a care to address how traumatizing it is to come to university, only to be read as a ‘threat’ and ‘other’ by police, simply because you AREN’T WHITE.

      Why does it take pepper spraying ‘unthreatening’, ‘peaceful’ and mostly white/light (because not all who look white or/are lighter are necessarily identifying as ‘white’) people for the USA (well, mainstream) to realize that the police can and do use ‘violence’ against human beings who aren’t physically threatening or violent?

      Once again, I’m not diminishing what has happened at my school, but I am bringing up questions that aren’t just in my head, but are shared by a plethora of my black, brown, and/or Muslim friends and family; most of which who have been racially profiled and/or recipients of police brutality when they have done absolutely nothing wrong… but when we tell most of our white colleagues, friends, acquaintances, they can’t believe that the police would do something like that, unless we had done something “wrong ” or “threatening.”

      I don’t think we can really begin to talk about Occupy Wall Street as only a socio-economic class ‘war’ until we hear the mainstream media also becoming horrified by how the machinery of whiteness operates.

      OCCUPY WHITE SUPREMACY

      [Report abuse]

    • European Student

      So the uniformed police use this poison gas to intentionally harm the eyes, respiratory tract, skin of enrolled university students sitting on the floor? The principal of the university ordered to put poison gas on students? Is that an officer on leave from Guantanamo, what is the background of the officer? Who gave to him the poison gas container?

      [Report abuse]

    • tin

      Great analysis on the matter!
      But one thing I still don’t understand: does the police even have the authority to remove the students? It is a university campus (and UC promotes freedom of speech as one of its core values). The quad is a huge open space and free speech did not even need to get a permit. Are the students being removed because they were not “actively speaking” ?

      If the police didn’t have authority to remove the students, how could they have challenged the officers? Telling the officer that he has no right to remove the student, much less rights to use pepper/oc spray against them would likely be met as “resisting arrest”, no?

      [Report abuse]

    • Michael Barnes

      Rosemary,

      I don’t know if you have seen this, but there is a longer video on Youtube that shows what preceded the spraying. The UC Davis police officer involved talks to the students in what appears to be a fairly friendly way. The officers confer with each other and with someone via radio. They seem calm and a little hesitant, as though they are not sure what to do. This incident was not the work of a rogue cop. I offer that as a statement, not as an apology for their behavior.

      [Report abuse]

    • I did not mean to imply this was a “rogue cop”. What I am pointing out is that there are guidelines and then there are practices. The guidelines would have ruled out using pepper spray in this situation for any normal reading– unless you read sitting passively as “violence”. The guidelines also call for “short bursts”, not a continuous spray (and I reiterate my distaste even for the “short bursts” approach). That the police did this so calmly is, along with the testimony of the former Baltimore officer, evidence of a culture that is problematic. That culture has to change.

      [Report abuse]

    • Daniel

      The CSU guideline that pepper spray should be used in a one-second burst is clearly meant to limit the amount of pepper spray used on a person and the amount of time they’re being affected by it. The facts that the canister was being discharged for more than one second or that a person was hit by a similar amount of pepper spray within five or ten seconds to the amount they’d get in a one-second burst has no impact on the safety or suffering any person whatsoever. It doesn’t mean they even violated the guideline. It’s a guideline–not a exactingdictateline.

      The NYPD Patrol Guidelines are subject to the same argument–and, incidentally, they recommend two one-second bursts.

      The potential for injury to officers, offenders, or other persons came from the crowd of protesters who’d surrounded the police. If the behavior of police using pepper spray in Seattle is relevant to the police in Davis, the behavior of students in the riots at Penn State is to students in the video at UC Davis. Maybe the university is lying when it says the police repeatedly asked the crowd to move and they didn’t. Hard to know. I’ve had wonderful arguments with people accusing the police of using military-grade pepper spray lately. People on both sides seem to have motive to just make stuff up off the top of their heads here.

      [Report abuse]

    • At issue, obviously, is the question of what constitutes a threatening/violent situation. You are arguing that “repeatedly asking the crowd to move” is sufficient action to take before escalating to pepper spray. I obviously disagree. And I think my reading of the various police guidelines suggests the same. The best a post-facto defense of the UC Davis police could come up with is to claim that curling up in a ball, or pulling away an arm– to curl up in a defensive huddle, by the way– was “violent”. This is the broader point made by Norm Stamper: the militarization of policing, which involves beginning by assuming that the people being policed as dangerous, has made it impossible, functionally, to avoid escalation.

      Norm Stamper’s argument is powerful because he is talking about a riot– and he still says escalating to more violent means was a mistake. I fail to understand your argument that seeks to equate the UC Davis students, sitting passively on the ground expecting to be arrested, with rioters. Maybe you can explain your logic better?

      As for your second claim– that guidelines are just guidelines– well, no. In this case, they are rules. They are supposed to prevent the kind of thing that happened. They would have required police not to use pepper spray in this instance at all without a convincing demonstration that there was a need to “gain control of an unarmed attacker, or to overcome resistance likely to result in injury to either a suspect, a victim, or the officer”.

      If such guidelines can be ignored by the police then, again, Norm Stamper’s point is made: the civilian population has lost control of the police.

      As for your statement that some (unidentified) person has been accusing the police of using “military grade” pepper spray: considering that pepper spray is not approved for use in war under international treaty, there can be no “military grade” pepper spray. In fact, Wikipedia reports, the US military raised concerns about its safety that were ignored after the FBI endorsed it– partly through the efforts of an agent later found to have accepted bribes from a manufacturer. Wikipedia quotes this 1993 study as concluding that “pepper spray could cause ‘[m]utagenic effects, carcinogenic effects, sensitization, cardiovascular and pulmonary toxicity, neurotoxicity, as well as possible human fatalities. There is a risk in using this product on a large and varied population'”

      The 1995 US Naval Handboook (extract under the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention) says that the United States “formally renounced first use of riot control agents in armed conflict except in defensive military modes to save lives”, and goes on to detail the situations where its use may be allowed– all of which require prior command-level approval. Is it so unreasonable to ask that similar restraint be exercised in civilian policing– and that, in particular, we not redefine “riot” and “actively resisting” and “violent” to include sitting on the ground passively?

      [Report abuse]

    • David Walker

      Excellent article. Isn’t it the case, however, that the Cal State system is separate from the University of CA system? If so, then it probably doesn’t matter what policies the Cal State system has created. Unfortunately.

      [Report abuse]

    • Yes, CSU is not the same as UC. I initially could not find guidelines for the UC, but in searching, found the CSU ones, and (as in my use of the NYPD report) use them here to illustrate what such guidelines actually say, when they exist. The ACLU model guidelines are what, in my opinion, should be the starting point. For my campus, I would like to see us raise the threshold for using pepper spray, by acknowledging it is not known how harmful it may be, and that it is in fact a very painful punishment, not merely a deterrent. Punishment is not the job of police– it is a matter for courts to decide.

      [Report abuse]

    • Kalle Nemvalts

      Because these officers are acting on our behalf — “we” being the UC community and the citizens of California — we have an obligation to speak up against such actions. I can’t help but think of the connection to practices such as waterboarding, also done on our behalf and with our tacit acquiescence.

      [Report abuse]

    • Duke in Washington, DC

      I’m curious… what is it about these officers or these types of officers that generates this need to use this type of ‘force’ to mitigate a situation. I think these officers should be fired also, but what’s to stop them from applying for a job in the same type of profession. What education are they going to receive about how their actions are unacceptable and out-of-touch. I wonder.

      [Report abuse]

    • Excellent comment. I resist arguments that personalize these situations; I firmly believe this is not a case of bad people. It is a case of bad policy, applied badly, or not applied at all. Stamper’s argument is that over the last twenty years policing in the US has been reformulated on a military model, which he attributes to the “war” on drugs. Viewing the people not as a constituency, but as an enemy, makes it easier to use disproportionate force against people.

      I would add that what seems to be happening is truly a redefinition of what constitutes violent resistance. To deny the authority of a person to order you around now is seen as sufficient resistance to justify infliction of pain. It is violence against authority that counts whereas, the guidelines (which, I would note, should be questioned for other reasons) for use of pepper spray originally envisioned it being used in response to physically violent resistance.

      There is an attempt to redefine protest within limited parameters– which we see also in the sometimes puzzled remarks of municipal authorities about the Occupy movement, objecting to the tactics used. Routinized protest is acceptable (non-violent); not doing what you are told to do is violent, even if the form of your disobedience is peaceful.

      That, for me, is what we all must contest.

      [Report abuse]

    • victoryforwho

      shame on us, student’s families for making financial sacrifices to send our children to educational institutions whose conflict-communication is to do bodily injury, instead opening a dialogue with their students to solve problems.

      [Report abuse]

    • Kathleen Glascott

      Your essay is cogent and well documented. After viewing a video of the Davis incident, I am convinced that this police action is a heinous criminal act perpetrated upon innocent American citizens in the United States of America. This is not police subduing a violent ,dangerous confrontation–this is the abuse of police power.And to me, it appears that these officers may have committed a crime.
      How appaled would we be if we saw this action in another country?
      The question remains, when will the Federal Government, including President Obama react to this? And when will our police forces be held accountable?

      [Report abuse]

    • Anthony St. John '63

      It’s time for UC and CSU professors to participate loud and clear in the Occupy movement to protect American Democracy and acceptable quality of life into the long term future.

      No one is supposed to know the lessons of history better than UC and CSU professors, at least that’s what they told us often enough.

      Not since WWII have our political, economic, social and environmental systems been in such grave jeopardy of failure, and the professors know that is true.

      Our political system is already in the calamity mode, so it is up to our scholars to make the right things happen to save America from a state of chaos that has destroyed all other civilizations before ours.

      It’s time for UC and CSU professors prove that they really know what they are lecturing about, and Fight Back For American Democracy.

      [Report abuse]

    • Michael

      Interesting post, just have a few questions: Were the students engaged in trespass? How many times does an officer of the peace need to request protestors cease blocking a public access way before force can be used? Do those not participating in the protest have a right to use the area the protestors were occupying?

      [Report abuse]

    • At UC Davis, the students were sitting on the ground in campus commons. Whether this is “trespass” or not I will leave to others who are legal scholars– or to the courts, which is where this should have ended up.

      However, the point has now been made moot by statements from UC Davis Chancellor Ketahi, reported in the San Francisco Chronicle:

      Katehi, speaking Monday morning on KQED Radio, said she had not authorized officers to use pepper spray and called it a “horrific incident.” She said she takes full responsibility but will not step down.

      “They were not supposed to use force; it was never called for,” she said. “They were not supposed to limit the students from having the rally, from congregating to express their anger and frustration.”

      The rationale provided by the police was not that the students were blocking public access (indeed, while I am not familiar enough with the UCD campus to visualize this, video footage shows green space around the sidewalk where people wanting to pass could walk). The UCD police said they felt “threatened” and that some of their number–35 officers– were “cut off” by the seated ring of protesters (presumably, these include the officer who is seen in video stepping back and forth over the heads of the seated students).

      There is no evidence that the UCD police attempted to arrest the seated protesters before escalating. They warned them that they were subject to arrest, and my reading of the accounts from participants says UCD protesters were prepared to be arrested– not to cooperate by standing and walking, but, in the tradition of civil disobedience, by “going limp, offering no active physical resistance”: circumstances that rule out use of pepper spray according to NYPD guidelines.

      Now, to your final point: I happen to work in Sproul Hall, adjacent to the area where students at Berkeley protest. I would prefer to be able to continue to enter my building and do my work, since what I do directly benefits students. But if there were a situation where I could not reach the door due to a mass of protesting students, I would rather redirect my steps than consent to, and be complicit in, the beating, pepper-spraying, or other brutalization of members of my campus community. Or what else is our community?

      [Report abuse]

    • Fred Nalley

      The Officers who pepper sprayed the students should be dismissed immediately. This reminds one of Police Commissioner Bull Connor in Birmingham, Alabama during the Civil Rights movement.

      [Report abuse]

    • Didier Creusot

      If indeed what the police officers did is standard police protocol, then the police officers should not and cannot be dismissed. That was what the higher ups trained them to do and they followed procedure. Instead, it isn’t the immediate officers that need change, though that too should happen. Instead, it’s the higher-ups and police procedures that need change. And then, re-training of police officers need to occur since they were ill-trained.

      [Report abuse]

    • marv

      Images of police actions have served to galvanize support during the Occupy Wall Street movement, from the clash between protesters and police in Oakland last month that left an Iraq War veteran with serious injuries to more recent skirmishes in New York City, San Diego, Denver and Portland, Ore.

      [Report abuse]

Leave a comment

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


+ 5 = 14