21 November 2011

UC Davis and Pepper Spray:
Sound and Fury, Signifying . . .

Lots of fussing about UC Davis, just like there was meant to be.

Here's the tactic: Find a public location which you know police will be forced to clear, make sure others are around to take pictures/video, interlock in a way to make it very difficult for police to move you, and wait.

It works. There is absolutely no way for the police to look good when they clear the area as they have been ordered to. Tons of videos show up on the internet.

Police are being ordered to clean out the various "Occupy" camps. Nothing too surprising there. Those among the "Occupy"ers who are dedicated or professional protesters or among the group of people who look at it as a right of passage to get arrested by the police while in college have resisted. Nothing surprising there. Videos are all over the internet and news.


Here's an AP video and an Al-Jazeera vid. According to the Al-Jazeera, the police were cleaning out a tent city and this group of kids decided to engage in passive resistance. The AP shows more of the occurrence than anything else I found. Note the police ordering the kids to "move." Note the kids on the sidelines screaming at the resisters to "not move." Note the police trying to physically separate the kids (unsuccesfully).  Note the officers being extremely obvious about their plan to use pepper spray. Note the yells "protect yourself" and "close your eyes." note the kids on the ground actually taking steps to protect themselves so they won't get a face full of spray (hoods and collars up, heads down).


And here's a video which starts even earlier, in which the police give clear warning that they were going to use spray before doing it.

In the end, the police cleared the sidewalk and the protesters got their moment of glory for standing up to the cops. They also got something to put out there to justify themselves.

This is not Kent State. This is a pre-scripted play.


Windypundit said...

I've seen this script many times over the years, and with passive protesters the way it's supposed to work (and what it looks like eventually happened here) is that 2 to 4 cops approach each protester, pick him up, and carry him off to the wagon. The addition of pepper spray is an improvisation of which I do not approve. It's punitive, which is clearly an attempt by the cops to steal the scene from the rest of the justice system players.

Or have I carried the script metaphor too far?

Ken Lammers said...

Personally, my advice would have been, tear down any shelter, patrol the area to keep any new shelters from being built, and ignore the kids until they get bored and walk away.

However, if they were under orders to clear the public way, I can only think of one thing they could have done better. The officer with the spray should have had a bullhorn and stated clearly for all "You have 30 seconds to leave by order of _______. If you do not I will use non-lethal spray to disable you and we will arrest you."

If they have to do it, I think the spray makes the situation safer. Yes, I understand the previous way of doing it is to wade in and use batons, fists and force to break the interlocked kids apart. This way the kids were partially disabled and more worried about the effects of the spray than holding on. It looks bad, but it is safer.

Anonymous said...

Justifiers take note:
UC violates its own use of force policies.
"The use of chemical agents is also described in detail by the UC Davis Police requirements and specifications.
They state: "Chemical agents are authorized for use when, based upon the circumstances perceived by the officer, lesser force would not reasonably appear to result in the safe control of the suspect."
So one cop tires to pick up one student, and Lt. Pike comes out waves the officer away and commences to spray. That was Pike determining that picking them up and loading them into the paddy wagon wasn't "reasonably safe".

Also, UC policy states force may only be used to subdue violence, in officer self-defense, or to ensure detention. The students were not violent, they were not trying to escape, so where is the justification?

oh, BTW the encampment was dismantled before the pepper spraying. Having fulfilled their mission of taking it down, why did they not simply go on their way?

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of your "inciteful"--I think it should be a word but it isn't. So I think it should be "rite" not "right" of passage. Unless it's one of those unenumerated ones.