My Country 'tis of Thee, Bad Land of Police Brutality

This is what America’s Finest are up to these days:

Note the technique: the insouciant stoll, the pepper spray held at a casual yet effective angle, the expression that says he could just as easily be spraying cockroaches as students, because they’re equally vermin to him. Note that his safety and the safety of others is in no way imperiled by a bunch of students sitting on the ground, yet he feels it necessary to spray them full in the face with a chemical weapon because they were, y’know, protesting. Defying his authortay. Can’t have that.

This is Lt. John Pike. You can go say hello.

[blackbirdpie url=”!/JC_Christian/status/137781926219104257″]

Let him know what you think of actions and injuries like this:

Police used batons to try to push the students apart. Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood. [emphasis added]

If, like me, you have no desire to speak to that piece of shit directly, contact the UC Davis police directly. Maybe you can send them a link to this video and ask them how this comports with their mission to protect and serve the students of UC Davis. And you can let UC Davis know what you think on their Facebook page.

Read this letter from UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi trying to explain away the violence:

And then let her know what you think of her excuses. Maybe just send her a copy of this letter, if you’re too disgusted to write one of your own.

Actions like this are truly disgusting. This is an outrageous way to respond to people peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights. But it also shows how terrified those at the top are. They’re terrified enough to make their precarious position even worse by attacking students for the crime of sitting in front of tents.

Keep ’em running scared.


My Country 'tis of Thee, Bad Land of Police Brutality

26 thoughts on “My Country 'tis of Thee, Bad Land of Police Brutality

  1. 1

    One of my all time favorite lyrics is from the Verve Pipe, from a song they released back in the mid-90s locally in Michigan before they got a big record contract and had a couple hits:

    My country tis of thee, sweet land of irony.

  2. bob

    I have long since past the getting outraged part. This bullshit is just so COMMON. It is the norm, not the exception.

    The media literally fabricates their own alternate universe to push out. This piece from the chief of police in seattle during the 1999 WTO protests pretty much says it all (well a lot), when you really see it in context:
    Sounds reasonable, right? Just made a couple minor mistakes with his heart in the right place. Aw. And people wuz just so hard on the poor wittle copsie wopsies with their complaining (although never bothered to hold anyone accountable).

    Except that that is all bullshit. Lookup the protests on wikipedia. Hop on youtube and see the videos of what they did to protesters. Far more people were injured by police actions than could ever have been by blocked ambulances – besides the fact that the protesters would have promptly moved for an ambulance. Oh, and BTW, there is more than one video of thugs pepper spraying sitting down non-violent protesters from that protest on youtube too in essentially the same way.

    This shit has been going on for decades with zero accountability. It is SOP. What we need is indeed a revolution, that is one of many reasons the Occupy movement must succeed. This is about so much more than the tax code and economy although that too.

  3. 3

    Laws are made by those with power FOR those with power. The police are there to enforce those laws. For some strange reason, there are those who think that the police are there to protect the rights of the public. They are not, they are there to protect the rights of those with the power to make the law. Once that is understood it is easy to realise why these people act in the way they do, they are paid to uphold laws made and paid for by those with power and that is what they do.

    Until this stranglehold is broken, nothing will change.

  4. 4

    So it raised helath & safety concerns eh? Fair enough reason to have a problem with it. Exactly what concerns were they? Do tents help the spread of disease? If so, how have the sporting goods industry (or perhaps we should now call them Merchants Of DEATH!!!) gotten away with selling them for so long and who else has been exposed to potentially lethal infections?

    Won’t someone please think of the campers!?!?

  5. 5

    Since I have a suspicion that letters to the Chancellor will simply disappear into the bit bucket, I am reposting mine here:

    Pepper spray is a weapon. Please explain how, in your universe, it is acceptable for the police – supposedly the defenders of the people – to deploy a weapon against a group of students who are posing no threat of any sort. They’re sitting on the ground, arms linked; they /cannot hurt anyone/. They can, of course, be injured themselves. Which appears to be the goal, here.

    Your excuses ring hollow. “Health and safety concerns” appear only to apply to the existence of a tent and not to the explicit violence being conducted against your students. The only honorable course of action on your part would be to acknowledge responsibility, acknowledge wrongdoing, apologize to these students that you have wronged, and step down from your position as chancellor.

  6. 6

    When first brought to the World’s attention the deployment of pepper spray against Occupy Wall Street participants on September 24th, the use was quick, covert, and swept under the rug by the New York Police Department. Nearly two months later the weapon has become a preferred tactic of police departments nationwide. Yesterday, the a University of California police department, under the direction of University Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, deployed personal spray canisters openly, notoriously, and directly at close quarters on over two dozen passive demonstrators in full view of hundreds.

    The Law of Occupancy

  7. 7

    Leave it to cops to use pepper spray in quite possibly the only way (unless sprayed on someone driving/operating heavy machinery) the “non-lethal” aspect of it can become lethal. There are some rare people who are allergic to pepper spray to a degree that even getting sprayed in the face can kill, but they are very few. However, anyone with significant respiratory infection or a relatively mild allergy can be rendered unable to breathe at all if it is sprayed directly into their throats.

    People wonder why I mistrust the police the way that I do. Meanwhile, I wonder why they don’t.

  8. 8

    Well, I’d love to try to stand up for police at large (not these officers of course, what they did was wrong). Rather, I’d like to cast a vote of confidence to law enforcement at large, for the departments that are handling this movement as level-handed as possible. I know in my town the Occupy movement has been given far more freedom than those in the town (the tax-paying, law-abiding percent of the population) think they deserve.

    The portion of protesters who do stupid things weaken the argument of the entire movement. Officers who make these kind of bad choices make law enforcement as a whole look worse.

    I’d love to try, but given the political climate around these parts, I can imagine the kind of response I’d get…

  9. 9

    Don’t write Chancellor Katehi. *** Write her bosses, the individual members of the Board of Regents of UC.***

    Remark on the shameful displays travelling worldwide on the Internet and the damage done to the reputation of the University. Perhaps remark on the negative effects on student and faculty recruitment and retention at UCD.

    Recommend a complete investigation of the demonstrations and the police response. Opine that if the use of a chemical agent against unresisting persons was not ordered, the University should fire Pike for colossally poor judgment (and he might be prosecuted if appropriate). Suggest that if someone in the chain of command ordered it, those individuals should be fired for poor judgment.

    And thank the Regent for his/her help in righting the situation.

  10. 10

    I feel bad for some of those cops. Not the weapon-brandishing or casual pepper-spraying ones, certainly, but the ones who are just there doing their crappy job. The ones who are getting crapped on just as bad as the rest of us and who can’t really fight back because if they do, they’re out of jobs and their families suffer.

    I’m so glad these students stood up and did so without violence, they should be very proud of themselves.

    I’m also very glad the cops here didn’t try to grab the bull by the horns. Whoever it was made the call to back off did the right thing. Maybe not the popular thing by their bosses, but The Right Thing.

  11. 11

    It’s an old story, I’m afraid. Anyone who remembers the ’60s can find analogs between then and today. Compare the University of Wisconsin at Madison protests with UC Davis, and you see them all. A college president who goes along with the brutality, the cops who are happy to do it for them, and the “non-lethal” weapons that can still alter or ruin lives. Substitute pepper spray for billy clubs, and black for blue, and you could run the same script on today’s stage.

  12. 12

    Chose to setup an encampment?!

    That wasn’t an ‘encampment’ Chancellor Katehi. That was a protest. That was a group of your students sitting on the group not hurting, harming or threatening anyone. Drop the pseudo military jargon and stop trying to paint them as the equivalent of soldiers.

  13. 15

    The first goal in police tactics when dealing with crowds is ALWAYS to prevent the formation of a mob. Approved methods for doing this are two things:

    – remove key individuals who seek to incite the crowd
    – use an appropriate show of force to discourage an escalation of the situation

    The protestors who were sprayed were asked repeatedly to move. They resisted a lawful request by the police. Pepper spray is an approved method of forcing compliance. That is what the picture shows.

    What I will also add is that the people being sprayed got exactly what they wanted. I suspect they would have been disappointed if the police and/or bystanders had just walked away.

  14. 16

    Really, Mike? A MOB? There were *eleven* students. Even if these had been the real police, in what world is eleven students facing at least 6 officers considered a mob, except when said officers are simpering cowards holding batons and pepper spray? They were *sitting down with their arms linked*. Had they stood up, sure, maybe you could make a weak argument that was a “mob”. At my old college, the only weapons the campus police had were their charm and cheap belts. Give me a break.

  15. 18

    Then please post the link from an OWS website where they encourage “incitement of police overreach “. Every site I’ve seen calls for peaceful, sober protest at all costs.

  16. 19

    It’s pretty simple:

    1) If protestors resist police commands they can expect to be arrested.

    2) If they lock arms and/or go limp they are resisting arrest.

    3) The KNOWN method used by the police for obtaining compliance is either the use of batons on pressure points or pepper spray.

    If the protestors can’t connect the dots between 1 and 3 then they are dumber than I thought. But I don’t believe they are. If one simply asks themselves the question, “Is their cause helped or harmed by the pepper spray incident,” you have your answer as to whether this is intentional.

  17. 20

    Those students were a mob in the same way that I’m a rabid St. Bernard. There were enough cops there to keep the crowd back and carry protesters away, they were in riot gear, and the few protesters who were offering any resistance were sitting peacefully on the ground.

    What that link I left earlier should have shown you is that in any situation like that, once there are enough police around there will be some who overreact and makes things far worse. If you followed the link to that American Experience show, you’d know that there will also always be people around to make absurd excuses for what those police do. In this case,you are that person.

    Hiding behind what is “an approved method” is for cowards. This wasn’t a situation that called for that kind of response, and those police should have known it.

  18. 21

    Police tactics for crowd control have been in place for 60 years now. They define a mob as having three stages:

    1) Initial Stage – An initial incident. Individuals in the milling process.

    2) Stage of collective excitement – Crowd becoming unified by circular influence. Stirred by action of key individuals.

    3) Stage of social contagion – Crowd accumulating masses of innocent bystanders as well as some trouble seekers.

    This event was clearly in stage 2 and the students resisting arest were the ‘key individuals’. Given the OWS violence we have seen in Oakland and elsewhere, police have reason to assume any of these protests could devolve in the same way.

    The problem is that it’s become a chicken and egg thing. OWS claims that increased police presence leads to violence and the police say that increased violence leads to a greater police presence.

  19. 22

    Or you could post evidence that this is standard procedure when there is peaceable assembly, Mike. Either one. When you post on a science blog you should probably be able to back up your arguments.

  20. 24

    If it’s a science site, shouldn’t you be able to follow a pretty simple exercise in logic (described above)?

    And a simple Google search of ‘pepper spray+standard procedure’ yields thousands of results. But just to help you out here is ONE example:

    Charles J. Kelly, a former Baltimore Police Department lieutenant who wrote the department’s use of force guidelines, said pepper spray is a “compliance tool” that can be used on subjects who do not resist, and is preferable to simply lifting protesters.

    “When you start picking up human bodies, you risk hurting them,” Kelly said. “Bodies don’t have handles on them.”

    After reviewing the video, Kelly said he observed at least two cases of “active resistance” from protesters. In one instance, a woman pulls her arm back from an officer. In the second instance, a protester curls into a ball. Each of those actions could have warranted more force, including baton strikes and pressure-point techniques.

    “What I’m looking at is fairly standard police procedure,” Kelly said.

  21. 25

    Logic does not work in science, Mike, because everyone has their own idea of what constitutes logic. Evidence, on the other hand, is tangible. A google search is hardly a police handbook. Same with an account from one single former police officer.

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