Pepper Spray Incidents Backfire In California and Oregon; When Is Pepper Spray Excessive Force?

Occupy LA protesters march on November 17, 2011 in Los Angeles, CA.

Occupy LA protesters march on November 17, 2011. Credit: shalunts / Shutterstock.com

It’s been a week of escalation in the Occupy Wall Street movement, with police actions being coordinated across the country, allegedly with assistance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. No aid in sniffing out that story from the MSM, by the way.

But two pepper spray incidents, one in California and one in Oregon, have backfired in the court of social and alternative media public opinion. It remains to see if officers will be disciplined, but the California incident seems a clear case of excessive force based on decisions made by the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

Portland, Oregon

In Portland, Oregon, 20-year-old Liz Nichols was being crushed between riot police and mounted police when she was pepper-sprayed in the face at close range.

“It felt like my face, ears and hands were on fire,” she said. [...] Next time you get pepper sprayed, keep your mouth shut, she said [the police] told her.

The photo, as you can guess, went viral.

Portland Police Chief Mike Reese “said his bureau will be reviewing video of the incident.” In NY City, a police commander who used pepper spray against OWS members in the early days of the protest was found to have “used pepper spray outside departmental guidelines.”

In Eugene, OR, a policy that went into effect in 2000 authorized the use of pepper spray “only on individuals who may harm themselves, officers, or others.” That was certainly not the case with the 5-foot-tall Nichols.

Davis, California

At UC Davis, one of the top 10 public universities in the country, students responded to the pepper-spraying of peaceful protesters by peacefully forcing the officers to retreat. According to the #OccupyDavis blog, in addition to the seated protesters who were sprayed, “reporters from CBS13 were pepper sprayed, and reporters from the campus paper, the Aggie, were hit with batons.”

UC Davis spokesperson Karen Nikos told the Sacramento Bee that, “35 to 45 UC Davis and city of Davis police officers … confronted approximately 50 protesters. She said the crowd grew to about 200 people, including many spectators.” The California Regents recently approved a 9 percent hike in a behind-closed-doors vote.

An assistant professor has called for Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi to resign.

No word yet on disciplinary action for UC Davis Police Lt. John Pike, the officer who wielded the spray can “as if he’s dousing a row of bugs with insecticide.” KCRA reported that at least one woman left the scene in an ambulance because of chemical burns.

Note that at least in Connecticut, police and corrections officers are directed to use pepper spray in short 1-second bursts (pdf). That is not what officer Pike did at UC Davis. In addition, in Connecticut, use of pepper spray is predicated on a “reasonable belief that there is a need to defend himself or a third person from the use or imminent use of physical force.” Of course, that condition is not evidenced at UC Davis, either, (the students were seated) although it is one of the factors the courts use to judge whether an officer engaged in excessive force.

Watch this clip from UC Davis to see how those additional 150 acted. Stay with it ’til the end. You may be inspired.

YouTube Preview Image

There’s More

On Tuesday night in Seattle, a 4-foot 10-inch, 84-year-old woman, a priest and a pregnant woman were among those doused with pepper spray. The protesters were blocking downtown intersections during rush hour. About 600 demonstrated Thursday night during the National Day of Action where “police were hardly noticeable.”

Here is a first-hand report from freelance report Ansel Herz (also two YouTube clips on his site) who was among those pepper-sprayed Tuesday night. He was trying to film Seattle police piling up on a protester who had been standing on the sidewalk as police continued to push the protesters back away from the street:

When one protester seemed to puff his chest out aggressively, face-to-face with a cop, they grabbed him [and pulled him] behind their police line and seemed to pile on top of him. As I tried to get it on camera, I was hit with a blast of pepper spray directly to the face. I saw it as it reached my eyes…. I wandered in a daze over to the “triage” area, where my eyes were doused a few more times, providing fleeting relief from the pain. But I couldn’t see much of anything and my whole upper body felt like it was on fire for a good 40 minutes, with a recurrence earlier this evening. [...]

Still smarting from the pepper spray, I engaged police officers, including a Sergeant, in conversations later Tuesday night. I told them I had essentially been assaulted while obeying police orders and exercising my rights. They had failed to do their jobs. The officers were polite – one even offered me some chocolates – but none of them apologized or admitted any fault at the time.

What Is Pepper Spray?

Pepper spray, known as Oleoresin Capsicum (OC), is a chemical weapon designed to irritate the eyes and inflict pain; it also affects the respiratory system should it be inhaled.

Its primary ingredient comes from capsicum, the pepper family of plants. Their fruit varies in hotness, from the no-tingle bell pepper to the eyes-burning chili pepper. Capsaicin is the chemical responsible for the spicy heat of the pepper; this heat is measured using the Scoville scale. Pure capsaicin has a Scoville heat unit of 15–16 million; law enforcement grade pepper spray has a Scoville heat unit of 5-5.3 million. The Pimento, Peperoncini and Banana pepper peppers have a Scoville heat unit of 100-900. Tabasco and Cayenne peppers are 30,000-50,000; Tabasco sauce (original) is 2,500-5,000 heat units.

As an agent of pain, pepper spray was adopted by the U.S. Postal Service in the 1980s as a dog repellant (pdf).

Non-Lethal But Sometimes Excessive Force

Pepper spray use by police is considered non-lethal force.

In a ranking of police officer use of non-lethal force in a study of 7,512 arrests (pdf), deploying pepper spray ranked 45.9 on scale of 1 (no action) to 82 (use of handgun); the average ranking was 30.0.

Techniques ranking lower (ie, should be deployed first) included use of handcuffs, threaten use of chemical agent or baton, pressure hold, twisting an arm, kick or hit suspect, or chase suspect in a car. As you can see from the YouTube clip, the situation on campus was not one where these earlier actions in a use of force continuum had been deployed.

The Ninth Circuit Court (August 26, 2011, pdf) describes the factors that must be considered when evaluating a claim of excessive force (emphasis added). The situation on campus fails here, also:

The Ninth Circuit then addressed the plaintiffs’ allegations of excessive force by balancing the intrusion on their individual Fourth Amendment interests against the countervailing governmental interests at stake. This requires the court to balance: 1) the severity of the crime, 2) whether the suspects posed an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others, 3) whether the suspects were actively resisting arrest by flight, and 4) any other exigent circumstances. (p 16455, 7) [...]

Of the three factors we traditionally examine in determining the governmental interest, the most important is whether the individual posed an immediate threat to officer or public safety. (p 16455, 8 ) [...]

In addition to immediate safety threats, in determining whether there is a sufficiently strong governmental interest to justify a given use of force we must consider “the severity of the crime at issue.” (p 16458, 10) [...]

Finally, in assessing the governmental interest in force we consider whether the suspect “was actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight.” (p 16459, 11) [...]

In Headwaters II, we held that police officers employ excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment when they use pepper spray upon an individual who is engaged in the commission of a non-violent misdemeanor and who is disobeying a police officer’s order but otherwise poses no threat to the officer or others. (p 16465, 16)

Oregon is included in the region covered by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Headwaters Case

The Headwaters case has a long history, but here is the 5-cent version.

In 1997, a handful of environmentalists protested the cutting of old growth timber in the California Headwaters Forest. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department used pepper spray to break up the protest. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals determined the officers used excessive force. The U.S. Supreme Court vacated the Ninth Circuit decision in light of Saucier v. Katz, a SCOTUS decision in an animal rights protest that gave additional powers to the police. In Headwaters II, the Ninth Circuit Court followed the SCOTUS direction to review the decision and again affirmed that the use of pepper spray was excessive force. In April 2005, a jury affirmed the Ninth Circuit’s determination that the use of pepper spray was excessive force.

See Lundberg v. County of Humboldt, 2005; Headwaters Forest Defense, v. County of Humboldt, 2002; Headwaters Forest Defense, v. County of Humboldt, Remand from SCOTUS, 2001; Headwaters Forest Defense, v. County of Humboldt, 2000; and No Pepper Spray On Non-Violent Protesters.

FBI on Pepper Spray and Thomas Ward’s Guilty Plea

If you see references to the FBI’s endorsement of pepper spray, look closely to see if the author also notes that FBI agent Thomas Ward, the person responsible for the research, “pleaded guilty to accepting a $57,500 kickback from a pepper spray company.” That was 1996; he was sentenced to two months in prison and he was fired from the FBI.

After Ward’s conviction, the ACLU of Southern California called on the FBI to “immediately retract and rescind” all documented research on pepper spray and begin a “neutral investigation” into the substance. The FBI responded that although it was reviewing the studies, it continues to believe that OC “should continue to be used by its agents as a less-than- lethal weapon and an alternative to lethal force.” (p 9, pdf)

Note: If you can find the pepper spray policy for Davis CA and Portland OR police departments, I’ll update the story. But my GoogleFoo is weak on these specifics.

Edited to add photo from LA, details about Seattle.

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  • Rcoutme

    I was trained as a lieutenant in the army in the Chemical Corps. What was shown on the video is nothing short of chemical warfare (although the type that would be allowed according to the various treaties). I am almost surprised that the police didn’t also use tasers (maybe they have banned the use, like in Massachusetts?) “Shame on you,” and “You can go,” ought to become the new rallying cries of the OWS movement. The video clearly shows the use of thuggery to intimidate protesters. If the police want to arrest, they may do so. If someone gets violent during the arrest, he can be subdued. But just as was shown in the move “Gandhi”, you can not attack someone who is NOT RESISTING ARREST!

    The governmental agencies that are bungling the intimidation are only creating martyrs for the movement. America (like it or not) was created by a bunch of Christians. We Christians LOVE our martyrs.

  • DaGoat

    Techniques ranking lower (ie, should be deployed first) included use of handcuffs, threaten use of chemical agent or baton, pressure hold, twisting an arm, kick or hit suspect, or chase suspect in a car. As you can see from the YouTube clip, the situation on campus was not one where these earlier actions in a use of force continuum had been deployed.

    I would support the use of pepper spray before I would support physically striking the protestors as this list implies. The point of the spray is to inflict pain and incapacitate without lasting injury.

    So what should the UC-Davis police should have done? Based on the video the protestors were passive, and if they needed to be removed (I’m assuming they were blocking some sort of public thoroughfare) it seems like cuffing them and dragging them away would have been sufficient. If they became violent then a higher degree a force is justified.

  • JSpencer

    Very impressed with the behavior and organization of the protestors. The pepper spraying cop needs to be seriously disciplined. The rest of the cops didn’t seem to know what to do, which isn’t a particularly safe situation. I’m proud of those kids.

  • jessica72

    Recent images have prompted memories of the violent tactics used by police and National Guard on free speech, civil rights, and anti-war protesters in the 60′s and 70′s. Authorities over-reacted with tear gas, guns, and clubs. Politicians and municipal leaders fear-mongered on newscasts of the dangers: anarchy, open rebellion, no respect for authority, drug-induded violence, children can’t play in yards, no one can walk the streets without fear. More recently, former President Bush forcefully designated space for peaceful protest: out of sight, out of mind. How dare anyone ruin his parade! This intimidation and arrogance through force and fear make it clear our freedoms are not guaranteed. “For What Its Worth.”

  • Brainster

    Techniques ranking lower (ie, should be deployed first) included use of handcuffs, threaten use of chemical agent or baton, pressure hold, twisting an arm, kick or hit suspect, or chase suspect in a car. As you can see from the YouTube clip, the situation on campus was not one where these earlier actions in a use of force continuum had been deployed.

    Yes, I agree, they should have tried kicking these buffoons first.

  • SteveK

    Brainster says: Yes, I agree, they should have tried kicking these buffoons first.

    That would never happen Brainster because:

    1. The protesters were/are non-violent and peaceful.
    2. The buffoons had pepper spray, rubber bullets, and handcuffs.
  • hyperflow

    Which is worse, the cops standing around watching or the spectators standing around watching?

    Does the law state that you can defend yourself if you are being harmed instead of arrested?

    I ask because I truly do not know, and I bet most people dont know the rules, either.

    I was arrested the same day near wall street for nonviolent demonstration.

    3 interesting things happened

    1. I was arrested WITH the Police Captain of Philadelphia, 24 years of service, who lead over 350 officers at the time of his retirement. Captain Lewis was arrested while protesting and has been a vocal opponent against police brutality [http://www.metro.us/newyork/local/article/1027362--ray-lewis-retired-philadelphia-police-captain-arrested-with-occupy-wall-street].

    2. The “Public health” and “medical conditions” pretexts often lobbied against protests are dishonest.

    I work in hospitals and collaborate with state public health departments:

    The special mass-arrest prison for protesters crams bodies shoulder to shoulder, standing room only, without toilets for hours. Inevitably and embarrassingly, someone urinated in the corner of the holding cell. I almost had to do the same, as I waited hours before I could use a toilet. Once transferred to the main holding cell, the bathroom had no soap for 70 prisoners sharing 1 small room.

    “Got Hands, wash them” is the slogan of public health departments everywhere.

    Seasonal influenza — “the flu” — is fought with vaccines and hand washing. Except there was no soap to be found in confinement.

    Calls for “Medical Attention” chanted loudly were ignored for the better part of 10 minutes as a injured protester was fainting.

    By the time they dragged him out he looked to be in much rougher shape then expected.

    If Bloomberg is truly concerned with the public heath and medical safety of protesters, then why he is putting protesters in confined spaces without soap, toilets, or responsive medical staff?

    3. What legal process?

    No lawyers of any kind are allowed entrance to our containment facility. Surprisingly, I was never told that I was going to be arrested, or that I was being arrested, or where I am going. We asked these questions repeatedly for hours to no avail. Since the “prison phone call” didn’t allow cell phone calls, only land lines, most of us were unable to contact the outside world.

    The point is that the rulebook is currently being rewritten. America must decide if the Bill of Rights is still “self-evident” and necessary of defense.

    From a different angle, this truly is a distraction from the dialog of proposals and alternatives. Though Wall Street must be happier to see confrontations with police rather than themselves, there is evidence that wall street is taking the occupation seriously [http://openchannel.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/19/8884405-lobbying-firms-memo-spells-out-plan-to-undermine-occupy-wall-street]

  • SteveK

    It appears that the officer(s?) involved with this incident are going to be called to task:
    UC Davis Launches Probe After Pepper Spray Video
    Could it be the “buffoons” (h/t Brainster) are going to get their just desserts?

  • EEllis

    The Constitution guaranties the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. That does not mean mobs get to occupy any territory they feel like and can interfere with others at will.

    As to the use of pepper spray. The legality of pepper spray would be an issue for a court. All use of pepper spray is not illegal and is very much tied to the manner and situation involved in it’s use. The Humboldt case allowed the protesters sue,not indicate that every usage would be against fed law.In that case the officers’ continued spraying of the pepper spray directly into the eyes of the protesters at close range as well as applying the pepper spray with a Q-tip was considered excessive. Here the protesters where generally sprayed from several feet away and the fact that there were 200 additional “protesters” surrounding the police would certainly be an additional factor in any case.

    I’m not coming down on one side or the other tho I tend to favor law enforcement generally and I don’t know UC Davies use of force policy as pertains to OC spray. Having said that anyone who is stating as a fact the legality of the situation is mistaken. Again it is only a “fact” when a court rules. Till then it’s opinion. And generally not very informed opinion. Tho at least one ast prof has been giving interviews alleging activities such as officers prying eyes and mouths open and then spraying OC. Since I’ve seen none of that, and would think that should be considered illegal, I personally think that at best (or worse) OC use is a grey area and some know it and are trying to make it sound even worse.

  • SteveK

    EEllis says: Having said that anyone who is stating as a fact the legality of the situation is mistaken. Again it is only a “fact” when a court rules. Till then it’s opinion.

    Yes EE, it’s opinion and ‘public opinion’ is changing. And, that is what’s going to create the atmosphere for the drastic change that we as a nation so desperately need.

    And generally not very informed opinion.

    The ‘not very informed opinion’ is coming from the minions of “Money & Power, Inc.™… and non-thinkers that buy into their BS.

  • DaGoat

    Prisoners held for hours without soap? It’s madness I tell you.

  • SteveK

    DaGoat says: Prisoners held for hours without soap? It’s madness I tell you.

    You sound just like EEllis… Except you think you’re being clever.

  • DaGoat

    Heh, hope you’re having a great evening SteveK.

  • SteveK

    Heh, hope you’re having a great evening SteveK.

    Heh, I am… Thanks for hoping.

  • BigEnoughLie

    The law does not provide an unambiguous definition of “excessive force”, so such claims are decided by the courts, based on the circumstances and merits of each case. In the Headwaters case, the 9th District Court ruled in favor of the police, but the U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit ruled that the police could not hide behind “qualified immunity”, because their actions were “way out of bounds” and the force used was excessive. The video and eye witness accounts of the UC Davis action provide prima facie evidence of excessive and unnecessary force by the police against unarmed and peaceful citizens exercising their Constitutional right to protest. Perhaps, like the plaintiffs in the Headwater case (which was settled 10+ years after the incident and involved only a symbolic recovery), they would be allowed to sue the police and the school for damages.

    But the real issue stems from the fact that Chancellor Katehi and Lt. Pike have both committed felonies (18 U.S.C. § 241), and neither of them have been arrested. I doubt they have even been interviewed by the FBI. The public’s acceptance and subsequent failure to prosecute these civil rights violations will only serve to embolden a militaristic police force that has apparently forgotten who they “serve and protect”, and that seems to be overwhelmed with the notion of upholding the laws and Constitution of the United States, not to mention that “equal protection under the law” thingy.

    Perhaps we could avoid the inconvenience and cost of “free elections” and the distractions of a “constitutional democracy” by simply consulting with the governments of Egypt, Syria and Bahrain? They know a thing or two about controlling large masses of cattle people.

  • http://uspolitics.about.com/ KATHY GILL, Technology Policy Analyst

    Thanks, Rcoutme, for your perspective as a former member of the military. JSpencer – me too. Jessica72, I agree with the Vietnam parallels.

    DaGoate – define “they needed to be moved”. They were on campus property; the head of the university had directed the police to remove tents. They were not blocking foot traffic, there weren’t enough of them to do that in that space.

    Hyperflow – the Ninth Circuit Court has ruled that police cannot use pepper spray on nonviolent protesters. They have made this ruling TWICE. So, yeah, there is law, although it is case law in the west. Thanks for sharing your story.

    EEllis and BigEnoughLie – I suggest you re-read the various Humboldt decisions — I’ve linked to them all. The Ninth Circuit is very clear and unequivocal that the use of pepper spray on nonviolent protesters is excessive force.

  • EEllis

    “The video and eye witness accounts of the UC Davis action provide prima facie evidence of excessive and unnecessary force by the police against unarmed and peaceful citizens exercising their Constitutional right to protest.”

    I disagree. In the Humbolt case the protesters were less than 10 and out numbered by police officers and logging crews, so they were never any threat or any great urgency to remove the protesters. In addition the manner in which the OC was used was much more direct and I don’t think it even starts to compare with this current UC Davis case. At UC Davis there were only 20 or so “sitting in” but the 35 officers were surrounded by 200 + protesters and looky loo’s which creates a situation much more concern for officer safety and increasing the need for a quick resolution. The protesters were interlinked by arms and were actively resisting. Pain compliance techniques would by necessary be used in separating protesters where at Humboldt they used a grinder to cut links in between protesters and didn’t need to use force at all.

    So to sum up a few differences, there was a situation that created significantly greater risk for officers at UC Davis being greatly outnumbered. The manner in which the OC was used was markedly different. Phisical force and pain compliance techniques were going to be used because of the manner in which the UC Davis protesters decided to protest, basically you have to pull the idiots apart. The Humboldt protesters were able to be removed without such use of force due to the different nature of their protest.

    While a court could still decide the use of force was excessive any person stating that it is some open and shut case like BEL or Kathy is misinformed or acting as advocates pushing for what they want not what is.

    “the Ninth Circuit Court has ruled that police cannot use pepper spray on nonviolent protesters. They have made this ruling TWICE. So, yeah, there is law, although it is case law in the west. “


    The Ninth Circuit is very clear and unequivocal that the use of pepper spray on nonviolent protesters is excessive force
    Sorry Kathy but that is not what they ruled. “

    The court ruled that a incident of using OC against nonviolent protesters was excessive not that any or every use of OC against protesters would also be a violation. In fact this may not be a case that they would wish to take to the courts because it may tend to allow greater use of OC.

  • EEllis

    As a matter of law Kathy, what the 9th circuit court basically said was that the constitutionality of the use of force, OC spray, was a question of fact that must be decided by a jury. Juries only decide the case before them. They cannot be used to say that every time, every jury after that point must also agree. Please find a better legal mind than mine to confirm but you are just not giving people the facts

  • DaGoat

    Kathy – I didn’t say they needed to be moved, but my feeling on this is said well by James Fallows in the Atlantic:

    Let’s stipulate that there are legitimate questions of how to balance the rights of peaceful protest against other people’s rights to go about their normal lives, and the rights of institutions to have some control over their property and public spaces. Without knowing the whole background, I’ll even assume for purposes of argument that the UC Davis authorities had legitimate reason to clear protestors from an area of campus — and that if protestors wanted to stage a civil-disobedience resistance to that effort, they should have been prepared for the consequence of civil disobedience, which is arrest.

    I also agree with Fallows that based on the video the use of pepper spray appears uncalled for. I’d have to qualify that by noting we don’t see the events leading up to the use of the spray, which may have involved the police trying some of the other methods you thought would be more appropriate.

  • SteveK

    DaGoat quotes Fallows: Let’s stipulate that there are legitimate questions of how to balance the rights of peaceful protest against other people’s rights to go about their normal lives, and the rights of institutions to have some control over their property and public spaces.

    It sounds like neither DaGoat or Fallows (or EEllis) spent much time at the Student Quad because “the quad” is the one place on campus that the argument they’re trying to sell almost automatically goes in favor of the students and their right to protest.

    Had it been in the Administration Building, the parking lot, or the classroom there might… I repeat MIGHT be a justification to disperse them… but not how it was done

    At UC Davis there were only 20 or so “sitting in” but the 35 officers were surrounded by 200 + protesters and looky loo’s which creates a situation much more concern for officer safety and increasing the need for a quick resolution.

    For anyone that watched the video to come to the conclusion that the officer’s pepper spraying of 20 protesters was for a quick resolution is incredible to me.

    Ellis’s “200 + protesters and looky loo’s” were not protesters, they were looky loo’s that became protesters (and forced the police to retreat by the way) ONLY after the vicious action of the police.

    This sounds uncomfortably like the same argument used when, in 2006, a student was “tased” in the library because he looked like an Arab and didn’t have his student ID with him. Guess some people just have a thing for automatically defending overreach by the police and/or security guards.

    FWIW – On May 15, 2009, UCLA announced that the university would pay $220,000 to settle the civil rights lawsuit.

  • DaGoat

    SteveK you’re right I have spent no time at all on the Student Quad at UCDavis, which I’m guessing is the case with almost everyone else weighing in on this.

    I agree with you that based on the video the campus cops made the wrong decision. The pepper spray only served to turn onlookers into protesters, not to defuse a bad situation.

  • SteveK

    DaGoat, I actually have been on the Quad at UCDavis (my niece graduated from Davis) but the UCDavis Quad wasn’t what I was referring to… My point was “Student Quads” in general.

    Quads are a place on campus for students to meet, relax, goof-off and protest and not be in the way of the day-to-day business of education, I think you understood what I meant the first time but one never knows… I understood (and agreed with) the rest of your comment the first time you wrote it. :)

  • DaGoat

    Steve I am pretty Quad-ignorant as myself and my 2 daughters all went to small schools that didn’t have quads. We did have some common areas but blocking them with protests would have raised a problem with people getting around the campus. I was just going by the video which shows a road or sidewalk with grass on the sides, so it has the appearance of some kind of thoroughfare being blocked.

  • SteveK

    Here’s some photos and a little info on the UCDavis “Quad”

  • EEllis

    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.

    From
    http://news.yahoo.com/outcry-calif-police-pepper-spray-students-094620026.html

    While I don’t know why they decided to remove those protesters I have no issue with how they did it. If the call to remove them was OK then so was how they were removed. I have respect for those who stand for something they believe in but if you are going to use civil disobedience, which includes breaking the law, then suck it up and stop whining. I have no patience for the political BS that is used to manufacture sympathy. Sure OC hurts. I’ve been sprayed. So do wrist locks, arm bars, compliance holds, being put face down on the ground, heck handcuffs are very painful in themselves. So? They chose the manner of protest and knew full well the responses. They didn’t go limp and allow themselves to be removed without resisting, they actively made it harder to remove themselves which will always lead directly to stronger, more painful methods being used to remove them. They do a disservice to themselves by the whining in my eyes and using what they created to try and indite others for political gain.

    It’s like a bunch of fat meat eaters who saw a slaughter house and are horribly offended.

  • SteveK

    California campus police on leave after pepper-spraying

    The University of California at Davis has placed two police officers on administrative leave after video of them pepper-spraying non-violent protesters at point-blank range sparked outrage at school officials.

    Friday’s incident has led to calls for the resignation of UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, who announced the action in a written statement Sunday. Katehi said she shares the “outrage” of students and was “deeply saddened” by the use of the chemical irritant by campus police.

    “I am deeply saddened that this happened on our campus, and as chancellor, I take full responsibility for the incident,” she said. “However, I pledge to take the actions needed to ensure that this does not happen again.”

    In addition, she said, an investigation announced Saturday would be sped up. Katehi said the task force established to conduct the probe will now report in 30 days, instead of 90. And she said she will hold talks with students, faculty and staff “to listen to their concerns and hear their ideas for restoring civil discourse to the campus.”

  • SteveK

    University of California President responds: “I implore students who wish to demonstrate to do so in a peaceful and lawful fashion. I expect campus authorities to honor that right.

    University of California President Mark G. Yudof today (Nov. 20) announced the actions he is taking in response to recent campus protest issues:

    I am appalled by images of University of California students being doused with pepper spray and jabbed with police batons on our campuses.

    I intend to do everything in my power as president of this university to protect the rights of our students, faculty and staff to engage in non-violent protest.

    Chancellors at the UC Davis and UC Berkeley campuses already have initiated reviews of incidents that occurred on their campuses. I applaud this rapid response and eagerly await the results.

    The University of California, however, is a single university with 10 campuses, and the incidents in recent days cry out for a systemwide response.

    Therefore I will be taking immediate steps to set that response in motion.

    I intend to convene all 10 chancellors, either in person or by telephone, to engage in a full and unfettered discussion about how to ensure proportional law enforcement response to non-violent protest.

    To that end, I will be asking the chancellors to forward to me at once all relevant protocols and policies already in place on their individual campuses, as well as those that apply to the engagement of non-campus police agencies through mutual aid agreements.

    Further, I already have taken steps to assemble experts and stakeholders to conduct a thorough, far-reaching and urgent assessment of campus police procedures involving use of force, including post-incident review processes.

    My intention is not to micromanage our campus police forces. The sworn officers who serve on our campuses are professionals dedicated to the protection of the UC community.

    Nor do I wish to micromanage the chancellors. They are the leaders of our campuses and they have my full trust and confidence.

    Nonetheless, the recent incidents make clear the time has come to take strong action to recommit to the ideal of peaceful protest.

    As I have said before, free speech is part of the DNA of this university, and non-violent protest has long been central to our history. It is a value we must protect with vigilance. I implore students who wish to demonstrate to do so in a peaceful and lawful fashion. I expect campus authorities to honor that right.

  • SteveK

    Spamming multiple threads doesn’t make it any more on point.

    Calling the posting of two important updates to the situation in both of the current threads on this topic “Spamming” only shows the weakness in your argument Ernie… Not mine.

    I’m anxious to hear EEllis’s reply to:

    • The suspension of the offending officer and the UCDavis Chancellor’s remarks and
    • The University of California Presidents response via the UC Newsroom.

    Though I don’t expect that we will.

  • EEllis

    Why wouldn’t you?

    One I believe the suspension was purely politically motivated and will come to absolutely nothing. They won’t loose a day of pay while the politics play out. I don’t believe either on made the decision to remove the protesters, they just tried to do what they were told the best they could. If someone has any info on how these offices violated their use of force policy then bring it up. Otherwise it’s more hot air and ignorance.

    Wow a politician is trying to cover his ass. That is what I think of your second tidbit which has zero to do with just about anything. Or is the UC Pres an expert in use of force and police tactics? Don’t want that on your campus? Then don’t send out the cops to arrest people.

  • SteveK

    Comment read… You’ve re-stated you position just like I knew you would.

    You still think you’re right and the rest of the world, the professional educators, and people with ultimate responsibility for the incident are wrong.

    I’m sure glad that I am who I am and that you live in Texas. :)

  • EEllis

    I’m still waiting on a discussion instead of condemnation without consideration of any factors what so ever. I believe that so far there has been no evidence given that anything was done that was not SOP. That any blame should go to those “professional educators” who told the cops to go remove the protesters. No one has given an alternative for the tactics used much less had an honest discussion about the relative merits of such.

    Honestly I don’t think it’s such a big deal. I’ve been sprayed and in general if I ignore the cops lawful orders that is a pretty normal tactic to insure compliance. That being the case it seems that you feel, I’m guessing because you seem to prefer insults to conversation, that protesters should be exempt from normal consequences. I understand the feeling but wouldn’t that take away from their stand? What props do you get when there isn’t even discomfort at risk? If you wish to discuss police tactics in a larger arena then lets do so but the idea that protesters should be sacrosanct or that their is no risk to police or others from these protesters is not something I believe to be true. It’s funny you are supposed to be the open and liberal one while here I’m the one who keeps trying to have a conversation and you keep falling back to what you obviously feel are insults.

  • http://uspolitics.about.com/ KATHY GILL, Technology Policy Analyst

    EEllis – the Humboldt decision was not limited to a situation with 10 protesters.

    http://ca.findacase.com/research/wfrmDocViewer.aspx/xq/fac.20050809_0000179.NCA.htm/qx

    The Ninth Circuit first considered “whether a reasonable jury could conclude that police use of pepper spray constitutes excessive force,” and held that it could. Id. at 1206

    http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-9th-circuit/1178646.html

    To resolve the merits of an excessive force claim, the question is whether a reasonable officer could have believed that the force used was necessary under the circumstances. ? Because of this parity, [this court has] repeatedly held that the inquiry as to whether officers are entitled to qualified immunity for the use of excessive force is the same as the inquiry on the merits of the excessive force claim.

    Moreover, when Lewis and Philp authorized their officers to use the pepper spray on the plaintiffs, although they fully reviewed the law and consulted then-current literature on law enforcement’s tactical use of pepper spray, they both admitted knowing that: ?(1) the California Department of Justice had only approved the use of pepper spray on “hostile or violent” subjects …. They also conceded that Humboldt County’s only written policy statement on the proper use of pepper spray described it as a “defensive weapon,” only to be used in “attempting to subdue an attacker or a violently resisting suspect, or under other circumstances which under the law permit the lawful and necessary use of force ? by ? chemical agent.”

  • EEllis

    EEllis – the Humboldt decision was not limited to a situation with 10 protesters

    Well the Humboldt decision was about protests with less than 10 people. The number of protesters would be a difference in the two situations.

    Environmental activists staged three nonviolent protests
    against commercial logging in California’s Headwaters For-
    est. In each, two to seven participants linked themselves
    together

    So what is your point? Look here is the deal. The court decided that the case could go to trial. That’s all. The jury decided if it was excessive not the court. The court said because of all the circumstances, including some you listed, that the case should go to trial. If the facts are different, and I listed several ways that they are in this case, then a case may well not make it to a jury.

    You are trying to make the decision mean something it doesn’t