The disconnect between the casual manner of dispensing the spray and the intention of physical removal is what made for instant memeification (my personal neologism). Had actual brutality been employed, the scene would have been less transfixing.
The action that preceded immediately was not so compelling for photoshoppers, but germane to the discussion: http://www.breitbart.tv/video-proof-uc-davis-protesters-were-warned-before-pepper-spray-incident/
An officer goes down the line of sitters and informs each one individually “You understand if you stay here…you will be subject to the use of force….the pepper guns will be deployed.” (It is hard to hear through the yelling.)
Anyway here are a few words I wrote about the reaction to the clearing of Zucotti Park. I hope they are worth repeating:
The sanctimonious busybodies dominating the public spaces of the nations cities are as far from the free spirited intellectuals of the early ’60s left as an empty Jersey Shore style reality show is from the works of Shakespeare. At best, the “movement” is a childish irrational temper tantrum. That’s being kind. More harshly it is a cultish religion-like self-involved sour grapes group of disturbed malcontents veering toward creepy, Jim Jones style group psychosis. (Witness the bizarre “mic check” ritual call-and-response ritual.)
Comments on the New York Times site range from the ridiculously hyperbolic: “The word has been sent by the one percent, turn loose the dogs of the police state”;”imperial state storm troopers”; to the downright demented: “The white gloved .01% [what happened to the rest of the 1%?] that has stolen our nation has ordered their jack booted servants to squelch the voice of equality” to the out-and-out threatening:”there will be bloodier days ahead”. Get a grip, people. America is, and always will be, the greatest nation on earth. Working yourselves up into a self righteous frenzy does not reflect well on any good points which can be made for leftist anti-capitalist ideology.
And thank you Sean for the wonderful wonderful blog-site.
Barry Tilles (#54),
“An officer goes down the line of sitters and informs each one individually “You understand if you stay here…you will be subject to the use of force….the pepper guns will be deployed.” (It is hard to hear through the yelling.)”
The fact that the policeman informs each individual ahead of time that he is going to over-react to non-violent resistance does not justify his over-reaction. The pepper spray is still uncalled for.
Fair enough point. You maintain that the police over-reacted. That is a subjective opinion and since no protester suffered wounds or had to be checked out at the hospital AFIK, one could argue back and forth regarding that. Back in my day (if you are a younger man cue the eye roll) the cops (Boston, Providence) would just come in and bash heads, which more would agree is disproportionate. Nobody I knew personally was beaten except for one guy: he announced prior to the demo that he desired a physical fight; when we rejoined he brandished his arm in a sling as if it were a purple heart, eyes proudly glistening. My point is nobody gets hurt unless they intend to become the martyr for their cause and these guys and girls were warned “force” would be used to eject them.
The only over reaction I see is the over the top moralizing and calls for heads to roll and the complete Stanislavski holier-than-thou self-righteousness of the Occupiers and their “shame”-shouting friends. If these folks were any higher on their horse they’d need a ladder to climb down.
If you go to a have a fight don’t act shocked when you get punched.
I am not sure whether “over-reaction” is subjective opinion or a legal argument.
Either way, this is not the kind of world that I want to live in. I object. I’m glad to see the UC Davis Physics department object. The shame is not on the students. It’s on the cops (these particular ones) and the administration.
Charlie, please man get a little bit of perspective. The wimpy UC Davis incident is not police brutality (police stupidity, maybe, yup – as I said in my 1st comment if the cops had been more hard-charging and not blasé as if doing some Sunday gardening less horror would have been evoked.) For example, do you want to see some tough action? Here is a clip from a street incident in So Korea involving riot police and ex-military: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qhIZ8Px9Sc&feature=related
Most amazing to me is that the whole thing wound up with a handshake – here in the US that would be very rare as small events are magnified into endless grudges as if there is always the litigious opportunity, so never make up, it won’t look good in court.
Also read the comment by a So. Korean guy:
“In S.Korea the earliest bus is 5:20 am, and they’re off work at 1:am. We work desperately and still people don’t get jobs, while you Americans are from the richest nation where you can live without a problem only if you work hard. You don’t know what it’s like to be in real desperate situation, you lazy idiots. You really have no idea how people from other countries work so desperately. Always complaining but always obese. especially young ones, In AMERICA YOU ARE WORSE THAN WALLSTREET…. Riot Police are young Korean college students in their early 20s who serve the nation mandatory and those Protesters are NOT ORDINARY EX-MILITARY. They are EX-Anti NorthKorea agents from “HID” division, which does not exist anymore. They are real professionals that can take one’s life easy. AMERICANS are STUPID.You stupid people will never realize how much you people are granted with opportunity, lazy obese shits. If you work hard, you will never starve to death.”
I’m not sure I’m getting your point:
- In South Korea, the police attack the retired soldiers hammer & tongs, while the retired soldiers attack them with: burning propane, big metal pipes, etc.
- At UC Davis, the police attack the students with pepper spray, while the students attack them by: sitting down, joining arms, and trying to cover their eyes with their jackets.
- So the students are supposed to feel grateful?
By the way: Some of the students were treated in hospital after the event. And there are people who have died in association with application of pepper spray. No, I don’t think it is merely my opinion that pepper spray applied to non-violent protesters is over-reaction. I hope this is a matter that will be proven in court.
With regard to the comments from the South Korean man: Because South Korea is ready to treat their protestors like dogs, the US should also be ready to treat our protestors like dogs? Should we all join the “race to the bottom” with respect to civil liberties? I don’t think so.
I don’t get your point either. Are you saying that they 1) aren’t courageous? or 2) should follow a different strategy and meet violence with violence? or 3) have nothing to protest?
#1 They are (I’m an ex-military guy myself so I’m supposed to have some authority on that point).
#2 Violence seems to be what is most wanted by their opponents (e.g., just watch Fox News for 10 min.). Their non-violent restraint is commendable and is probably their best strategy to have any lasting effect.
#3 It’s pretty safe to say that all of these students will be paying a higher percent of their income to the IRS than, say, Sean Hannety. Damn right they have something to protest.
Hello Mr. King,
You make some powerful arguments. If I can extrapolate, you are gently reminding the reader that: 1) we are a nation of laws; 2) differences among parties should be resolved peaceably; 3) pepper spay is tough stuff and mustn’t be dispensed in such a callous manner; 4) Americans have a right to assemble, and non-violent civic resistance, including sit-ins, has a storied history.
My point though was misconstrued. Our rights to protest are not unlimited. The leaders of the sit-in know that. As Wiki says its whole raison d’être is to be forcibly removed:
“In a sit-in, protesters remain until they are evicted, usually by force, or arrested, or until their requests have been met. Sit-ins have historically been a highly successful form of protest because they cause disruption that draws attention to the protesters’ cause…. The forced removal of protesters, and sometimes the use of violence against them, often arouses sympathy from the public, increasing the chances of the demonstrators reaching their goal.”
So, the Occupiers planned to be evicted and the bluecoats obliged. The police played right into their hands. Moreover, listen to the tape. The crowd was screaming and yelling, goading the cops, driving them nuts really. They’re human beings and campus cops are not known for being well trained like city lawmen. Whether or not you think the po-po’s went over the line, who stands to benefit now by litigation or further recrimination? Meet, agree that both sides got unzipped a little bit, shake hands like those crazy Koreans and move on. But no, these guys are just getting going: publish the officer’s name and address and urge people to “flood his home with pizza deliveries and junk mail. … Flood his skype [think he has a skype?]… Flood his phones, email and mailbox to voice your anger”; create an internet meme making him the worst dude to walk the UC campus since Charlie Manson; engage in outrageous hyperbole; fire a bunch of people; ruin some lives.
I’m just asking for a bit of larger perspective and maybe hoping cooler heads prevail. I suppose it all depends on how one regards OWS politically. I am not sympathetic to them, and it shows.
I was trying to withdraw my comment (#62) but apparently the system does not let one just totally delete a whole post. So, since I was addressing Barry Tilles,, I left only his name to satisfy the system.
I do not approve of publishing the cop’s personal information or actions based on such information.
However, I think his own actions prove that he has the wrong temperament to be a policeman in our society: Someone with that kind of proven sadistic streak should not be a cop. Better that his career in law enforcement be discouraged now than that he take his lack of judgment and self-control one step too far on another occasion.
I am not necessarily 100% against the authorities: for example, I am not completely convinced that the chancellor should be held responsible for what I consider the over-the-top behavior of the cops, as I regard such behavior as unbelievable and unpredictable. I suppose that will come out in the wash.
Barry Tilles – I’m amazed how one can come up with any sort of defense for the police in this incident. There is simply no justification for pepper-spraying peacefully resisting students. It doesn’t matter what the students are protesting about, or what Wiki says. If it is some established rule somewhere, we need to change it.
I do not agree that the protesters planned to be evicted. I think they just wanted to be heard.
Okay, back to this….
Martin asked “how one can come up with any sort of defense for the police in this incident” or rather expressed astonishment that one can have an idea, opinion or belief that departs from his own. I guess I just like to retain my individuality. It is why I am here, writing to you, instead of maybe over at the Spectator blog or watching Fox news or some such, a little like a dog who sticks his head out of the car window no matter the speed or the temp. Of course I always try to keep the following in mind, and I recommend you all do, too:
“People are “erroneously confident”‘ in their knowledge and underestimate the odds that their information or beliefs will be proved wrong. They tend to seek additional information in ways that confirm what they already believe.”
Also, I try to keep a long view, and a cheerful optimistic one. Now, returning to the subject at hand.
Here is the video again, of the pepper spray occasion, and its immediate aftermath: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/11/pepper-spray-brutality-at-uc-davis/248764/
Naturally, it is edited to begin after the initial arrests and order to diperse, and after they go down the line of hard-core sitees and one by one inform each person that if he or she remains they will be subject to removal by force. As the correspondent states “The first minute has the main drama”.
The only real drama. The heinous, brutal act. That does not mean the rest is uninteresting. A few police drag away their hapless victims as the crowd reaches a fever pitch of chanting in unison “Shame on you” with very little variation, with other policemen more or less standing around looking nervous, and fingering their weapons. I stopped watching at 6:28.
I stopped because that is when the mic check thing started. There is something that really really bothers me about that . It gives me the creeps. The group call and response (really call and repeat) practice associated with OWS evokes both The Stepford Wives and a drugged out class of children at religious school. It is when the hive mind becomes totally insectile and the human beings that comprise the crowd drop all pretense to selfhood and give in totally to what is known as groupthink. Is anyone else bothered by this?
Anyway Martin, you can ignore the encyclopedia, but why disregard your own eyes? That is your assertion “I do not agree that the protesters planned to be evicted”. At what point did they not plan? Look never mind we went over this before. The cops told ‘em they were comin’ to get ‘em and they got got. Get over it.
Now, Charlie. You seem like a nice man and your heart is in the right place. Your military service is commendable too. I’m sure those kids were plenty scared and that took courage to sit there and take the heat. But in the process they become heroes to their fellows so there was an incentive for them. A courageous person doesn’t make more of something than what it was, though. They reconcile with the foe and move on. On points 2 and 3, you only seem to see one side, and stereotype the other. Yeah I’m a Fox-watchin’ hippie-hatin’ Rush-lovin’ God-fearin’ Snapple-drinkin’ good ol’ boy right? Or maybe some rich 1%er. Sorry I’m a Jewish atheist cab driver who used to be left and now is right and who loves to read about physics and argue politics over the ‘net. But I respect your opinion even though I think you would be happier if other people’s tax bills didn’t frost your nose so.
Okay sorry for the rant and good night.
I agree that mob mentality can sometimes have a chilling effect. The right response wasn’t to pepper spray the students though. Even if they were warned, as Neal (55) says.
We’ll just have faith that whatever is right, true, and good will come through.
I was inspired by the actions of the students witnessing this unbelievable act of repression (violence as a “measured” response to peaceful protest is always inappropriate). They responded in a peaceful but forceful way to the police’ violence. Their response was the most logical, appropriate and effective method imaginable. They spontaneously heaped collective shame on the the police for their absurd and disproportionate behavior, chanting “Shame on you!” until the police began to retreat, some of even looking confused by the crowd’s reaction.
During the retreat, when police again threatened to use pepper spray, the crowd began to shout “You can go”. This simple statement of collective disgust removed any possible justification for a second violent action by the police. The students essentially treated them like the school yard bullies they were – they shamed them and sent them packing.
IMHO, exactly these tactics should become an integral part of the protests sweeping the country. Every time a politician or public official blatantly acts against the interests of the people, they should be greeted everywhere they appear, with collective shouts of `shame on you!´ Shame is what they should feel for betraying their constituents, their public office, and the common good.
This kind of public shaming is political dynamite. It not only creates bad press and great TV news segments, it holds officials accountable to a publicly shared moral and ethical code that can ultimately trump money in political campaigns. Shame is a powerful force for change in society that should not be underestimated. A broad sense of shame is what American business and politics need to experience because our most cherished principles are being shamelessly trampled by their greed and unprincipled pursuit of power.