On the narrative of pepper spray at UC Davis, or “Mic Check for President!”

UPDATE Sunday 12:36PM A second, different, and longer video of the incident is at the end of the post.

Here’s the YouTube. Video A:

The congealing narrative (supported by the YouTube’s title) goes like this: Online Furor After Police Pepper-Spray Demonstrators at UC Davis (Time; Atrios). I’m not so sure. After all, the pepper spraying takes up the first twenty seconds of the video; but 8 minutes and 14 seconds remain. So what happened after the pepper spray? I thought I’d see. (Hat tip to alert readers LucyLulu, patricia, and montanamaven for helping to tease this out; I’m not really visual- let alone video-minded).

So, here’s my transcript. I invite readers to follow along, and correct me. (I’ve noticed that time codes seem to vary a little from FireFox to Opera, so have patience with them, please.)

0:00 Students are seated in the university quad, blocking a path.

0:10 – 0:20 Uniformed police officer strolls into the frame, sprays bowed heads of students with a large economy size can of pepper spray, rather as if he were spraying vermin. Remarkably, while the action takes place, there are at least 5 recording devices on the frame besides the videographer’s: Cameras, video recorders, cell phones, and iPads. In still photos, I count 11. The whole world is, indeed, watching.

0:35 Occupiers assisting one another after the spraying. Shouts of “Boo!”

0:42 Chants of “Shame on you!” begin. Coughing.

0:52 Police begin hauling Occupiers away. Coughing. “What is wrong with you?!” Face of policeman, visor raised, not proud. “You guys are supposed to protect us!” Coughing. “OK, man?”

1:02 Loud (organizer-style?) chant: “Who do you serve? Who do you protect?” Crowd does not pick up.

1:14 Camera has been swerving all around; now a full view of the path, with the police dragging unresisting Occupiers off the path onto the ground at the top of the frame. Many bystanders still recording. (See image at left for a characteristic, collective gesture at an Occupier event: The arm, raised or crooked, extended to hold a camera.)

1:20 Police continue to drag Occupiers off path onto grass, subdue, handcuff them. “Shame on you! Shame on you!” begins anew. The path is clear. A police car has been pulled up the path to where the seated students were. Police begin to drag handcuffed Occupiers past the car, down the path, out of the frame to the left.

1:41 Brief shot of policeman with rifle raised, walking backward down the path to the left; two students in sweatshirt and black coat look on amazed. [I’ll say “rifle” because the weapon is not a handgun; it looks rather like an Imperial Storm Troopers blaster rifle: Black, bulbous, and heavy. UPDATE: In comments, readers point out that these are air guns, “technically non-lethal,” rather like tasers. I’m not sure if that diminishes the experience or not; it seems to me that the students have to assume whatever they are is a step up from pepper spray, and that’s pretty bad. From here on down, I’ll change “rifle” to “weapon”]

1:41 – 1:43 Ratio of police to dragged Occupier: 3 to 1. Continued: “Shame on you! Shame on you!”

1:50 – 2:11 Police continue to subdue occupiers. Continued “Shame on you!” Some police make pacifying gestures. Others, with nightsticks, visors lowered, are forming a line along the grass. Another stands in the center of the path, weapon partially lifted.

2:27 Occupier walked off the path by police. Only a 2:1 ratio, this time!

2:46 Crowd not inclined to disperse, but people only standing (and filming). No violent body language whatever. Continued chanting: “Shame on you!”

2:58 Looks like a management type in a windbreaker, center of the path. He waves a TV cameraman along. He also seems to be the only policeman, through the entire episode, who’s smiling. (I didn’t see any predatory smiles.)

3:16 Continued chanting “Shame on you!” Students milling about, intermingling with uniformed police carrying weapons. It’s surreal.

3:20 Police seem to group themselves, start walking down the path to the left of the frame in a loose formation. Continued “Shame on you!” Police faces behind the visors. Again, not proud. Not at all proud (see also James Fallows on this point.)

3:43 At first the police were walking forwards, down the path to the left, with their backs to the Occupiers, but at this point they slowly turn and start walking backwards, so that they face the Occupiers. There’s no visual or auditory stimulus for this change that I can detect. They also begin to bunch up. For the first time, the police look like a military formation — and one in retreat. The management type is not visible. I can’t see leadership or orders given, though perhaps the police have ear buds.

4:00 Policeman in center of screen with weapon partly raised.

4:20 Police still bunched in loose formation. “Shame on you!” continues, with addition of “you shit” something-or-other from one bystander.

4:36 Crowd has now concentrated on the videographer’s side of the path. Chanting is growing much louder. The crowd on the other side of the path is thin. (In other words, the police are not surrounded.)

5:07 More of the same. The police, for whatever reason, are no longer retreating. Nothing blocks them from moving left down the path, but they continue to stay right where they are.

5:30 New chant begins suddenly: “Who’s university? Our university!” Police seem to react uneasily, move around, exchange words. Lots of “Our university!”

6:05 Policeman: “Back off!” to the crowd (Patricia thinks to another police.)

6:09 [Kent State “13 seconds of shooting” timer starts [UPDATE Here I think I do exagerrate] Camera is focused on the front of the police formation. At least two of the police raise their weapons to a 45-degree angle, pointing front, to the right, down at the ground. What is in front of them, to the right of the frame, is not in the shot.

6:12 “Mic check! Mic check!” (hoarse, urgent) “Shame on you!” Shouting. (Frightening and amazing)

6:15 Three weapons raised horizontal.

6:20 [Kent State timer ends] “Mic check! Mic check! We are willing…”

Occupiers: “WE ARE WILLING…”

MC: “to give you a brief moment…”


MC: “of peace…”

Occupiers; “OF PEACE…”

MC: “so you may take your weapons…”


MC: “and your friends…”

Occupiers: “AND YOUR FRIENDS…”

MC: “and go.”

Occupiers: “AND GO.”

6:35 Policeman in front of line of weapons, now, holding two red cans, presumably pepper spray. Police faces behind visors puzzled.

MC: “Please do not return!”


MC: “We are giving you a moment of peace.”


MC: “You can go! We will not follow you!”

Occupiers: “WE WILL NOT FOLLOW YOU!” “You can go!” [confused shouting]

7:04 Occupiers: Chants, shouts, “You can go!”, “You can go!”, “You can go!”

7:11 And the police begin to back down the path. “You can go!”, “You can go!” “None of you is getting a pension!”

7:14 Now for the first time, the camera pans left to show who the police were facing: A loose crowd of students in hoodies and student gear, many of them holding cameras, chanting and shouting. No violent body language, no visible weapons.

7:20 Police still in a block formation, backing away.

7:45 Finally the police turn their backs on the Occupiers and walk down the path. Cheers. “Yeah!” (Somewhere military historian John Keegan says that in a rout, the first troops to flee are not at the front, but at the back of the column, instancing the collapse of the Old Guard at Waterloo. Notice that here, the first police to turn their backs and walk away are indeed those at the back of the column, and not those, weapons still partially raised, at the front.)

“Shame on you!” “Shame on you!” “Our university!” “Whose university?” “Our university!”

“Whose quad?” “Our quad!” “Whose quad?” “Our quad!”

8:13 and following: Can’t get this part clear, sounds like a call for a general assembly, the people’s mic still led by MC.

* * *
From the Barcalounger:

I don’t think the story is the pepper spray at all. Here are some other stories:

1. The Occupiers displayed remarkable courage. They had already been pepper-sprayed, yet they faced down armored, paramilitary policeman whose weapons were raised and aimed at them. Does anybody remember Kent State? In thirteen seconds of shooting, four died. [Revised] The weapons used here mean that the stakes were not as high as they were at Kent State. However, to me, the police, though paramilitary and armed, looked stressed, unhappy, confused, and ill-led, if led at all. For example, at 5:07, having dragged the arrestees away, what were they hanging about for? At 6:35, why wasn’t pepper spray used again? At some point not visible in the video, the police car was driven away. Who was in it, and why did they leave? Above all, why such a massive presence for grand total of six (I count six) pup tents? The whole situation, to someone with a nasty twist of thought, could have the feel of a set up: Putting Cossacks into a position where the odds are good enough that they’ll end up opening fire on a few peasants out of panic, giving plausible deniability to some anonymous security thug seeking preferment (“bad apples,” “mistakes were made”). Not that I’m paranoid. UPDATE The eternal question: Stupid and/or evil? I gave a tentative nod to evil, but there’s stupid too!

(Both LucyLulu and Patricia take a somewhat different view, and we can discuss in comments. I think it’s important to get this incident right, in case the tactics can be scale out horizontally.)

2. The Occupiers displayed remarkable ingenuity. The tactic of taking an internal, General Assembly deliberative technique and externalizing it for use in a confrontation with police was brilliant. The tactic (as commenter LucyLulu pointed out) both defused tensions with the police, and refocused the crowd on non-violence. And empowering the police with “You can go” was also brilliant. So, who had the power here?

3. The Occupiers won. They held their space. They seized and held the initiative. Further, I think that a reputation for non-violence is a strategic asset; it puts “good will” on the Occupation’s balance sheet, and that’s important if “all walks of life” are to participate. (That is not a moral position, but a pragmatic one.)

Of course, there may be other narratives to be constructed. Readers?

Oh, and “Mike Check for President!” As a write-in, I suppose, if your state permits that.

NOTE Time‘s headline also gets the story wrong a second way. The “online furor” is meta: It’s far less important than what is going to happen on the ground at UC Davis. It sounded to me, at the end of the video, like the General Assembly was going to call for a strike on Monday.

UPDATE OK, OK, I changed the headline. I’m so old, I remember when “step up to the mic” was spelled “step up to the mike.” But I defer to readers, who prefer “mic.” That said, I envision a fake presidential campaign for Michael “Mike” Check, rather as an antidote Michael “Mike” Bloomberg’s impending third party run… Maybe somebody should set up a facebook page and start a campaign…

UPDATE Thanks so much to the commenters who straightened me out on the type of weaponry used. If we knew the exact model, we could find out where it was used….

UPDATE Here’s a second and longer (15 minutes) video of the event, taken from a different vantage point. Readers, I don’t have time to look at it right now, but if any of you want to, please post any new information you discover in comments. I’ll label this video Video B, and last night’s video Video A. If you use time codes for video B, please do them like this: B0:00. Any time codes without a preceding letter, like all those to this moment, should be presumed to be from Video A.

Video B

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. lloyd blankstein

      Oh the irony. Chancellor Katehi happens to be Greek !!

      “Katehi was born in Athens and grew up on Salamis Island in Greece. She received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece, in 1977. She came to the United States in 1979, then earned a master’s degree and doctorate in electrical engineering at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of California, Los Angeles, in 1981 and 1984, respectively.”

      1. Richard Kline

        I found that video extremely moving. Not a word, not one from the students: ‘This is what censorship looks like.’ The initial incident on the UC-Davis quad isn’t just an opportunity to gain sympathy, it’s a fulcrum for subsequent action, and the subsequent action, to me, was even more potent.

        And irony upon irony: she grew up under the junta of the Colonels in Greece. Who . . . used techniques just like in this incident, only they also had no qualms about murdering detainees and assasinating protest leaders. One wonders which side _her_ family was on.

        But the irony stopped long before this action. Jailor Katehi has a salaray of $400,000 a year. Plus perks. Plus opportunities to pad her income speaking (and being spoken to). The math to do there is easy: She’s in the 1%. And she’s taking home that salary _undiminished, and indeed untouched_ at a public university where those students are facing effective 10% tuition hikes in the immediate future, plus we may be sure hikes comparable or worse in all non-tuition fees, _plus_ extensive cuts in curriculum and hours. And those students, to pay for those hiked costs, face masive declines in grants if they could get them at all . . . which means those hikes will come DIRECTLY from students taking on _MORE DEBT!_. Minority and low income students are already priced out of attending places like UC-Davis, but those on the bubble are being tossed out as well. Chancellor 1% faces _no_ salaray cut while the students are to be loaded with yet more debt for a lesser product.

        Is it any wonder that the methods of crushing dissent in the public square are authorized for the college quad, since exactly the same anti-people pro-oligarchy program is pushed in both venues? The good news of this past ten days is that the Occupation movement is expanding rapidly and powerfully to college campuses. No more walking to the Capitol to beg for a decent life: bring the action to the point of oligarchical attack, right where one studies and works under the heel of the 1%.

        1. MichaelC

          The chant playing in my head at the silence was,

          “This is what seriously controlled anger and non violence sounds like”.

          I hope we hear more of it.

        2. Herodotus

          I too wonder what she did in Greece during that time. I saw an interview where she was asked if she had been politically active, and she gave a vague response that “everybody” was involved in politics at that time. AP in Athens should send a reporter to Salamis to profile her, and I’m sure even her neighbors know whether she was truly pro or anti junta.

      2. Mike S

        And what of Katehi’s pre-UC administrative chops?
        As Provost at University of Illinois, she was a willing and active facilitator of a recent admissions scandal.
        (Which ultimately led to the resignations of 12 of 14 Trustees and the UI President.)
        Lesser qualified applicants with political connections in the state (or money to throw around) were accepted to the university in preference to better qualified applicants.


        The story hit the national airwaves just as she took her current job at Davis, but of course the UC was all to happy to look the other way.

        1. aletheia33

          admissions compromise of this kind is so widespread that i can only imagine she fell down on her job because she was unskillful at keeping it quiet.

        2. rd

          Meanwhile, the great debate can start to resolve the following:

          Will the US become more like Egypt or will Egypt become more like the US?

          Presumably Katehi figured out that she did not want to escalate to becoming equivalent to the military government in Cairo. She will probably let the State and Feds do that escalation.

          Demonstrators are re-occupying Tahrir Square after 13 deaths so far this weekend:


          Are our police and military forces prepared to shoot “non-lethal” and lethal weaponry at our students and unemployed?

  1. Jesse

    [ Annette Spicuzza, UC Davis police chief] said officers were forced to use pepper spray when students surrounded them. They used a sweeping motion on the group, per procedure, to avoid injury, she said.

    The students were informed repeatedly ahead of time that if they didn’t move, force would be used, she said.

    “There was no way out of that circle,” Spicuzza said. “They were cutting the officers off from their support. It’s a very volatile situation.”

    It’s like you said after the Citi arrests: They still don’t seem to understand that they can’t get away with these types of lies in the age of cameraphones.

    I tried loading up the UC Davis Chancellor’s page to let her know what I think (to put it politely), but it’s down.

    1. CaitlinO

      I was able to get through and leave a very sternly worded letter for Dr. K. at 12:17, pacific time, expressing how I, a graduate of the UC system, feel about people like her disgracing that once proud institution.

      Tomorrow it will be time to send letters to Lt. John Pike, the sadistic, cowardly POS who sprayed the students, his boss, Annette Spicuzza and Governor Brown.

      Every last bastard one of these people need to be fired for cause immediately.

      1. Greg Colvin

        I already sent an email telling him he was a heartless fucking bastard. As if he didn’t know. Not very pacifist of me, I know. I assume he has a new email address by now.

    2. BondsOfSteel


      “There was no way out of that circle,” Spicuzza said. “They were cutting the officers off from their support. It’s a very volatile situation.”

      The cop who used the pepper spray crossed over the protesters to spray them in the face. The quote above is a baldface lie.

  2. Psychoanalystus

    This is what this silver-tongued corporate sellout called Obama had to say about the protests in Egypt not too long ago:

    “I want to be very clear in calling upon the Egyptian authoritie­s to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters­. The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and associatio­n, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. And the United States will stand up for them everywhere­.”

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      Whenever an Occupy/Police face-off occurs, this quote should be mike checked. Following a “Close Quote,” after which the police should be asked whom they stand up for, and whether the United States is included in “everywhere.”

    2. G3

      Pearls (on human rights and all that) would have dropped from the silver-tongued much earlier if it had been in any of the countries under “rogue” dictators (as opposed to friendly ones like the then-Egypt, or Saudi, Bahrain etc). He was vewy vewy quiet in Egypt until the %hit started hitting the fan.

    3. K Ackermann

      Such a great recollection… and PFC Chuck’s suggestion is brilliant.

      The quote is more damaging than any nightstick.

  3. skippy

    One clarification… rifle = paintball gun, ammo hopper on top.

    300 fps is the maximum allowed at tournaments while 290 fps is the maximum on most playing fields.


    Still it is a weapon not to be used on people not kited out for it, can inflict permanent disability’s.


    Skippy…police might as well just go with the paramilitary nomenclature, more factual. Mic Check…the paramilitary is here! the paramilitary is here!

      1. skippy

        Fill pockets with popcorn and sticks of butter? Only early warning you’ll get…sigh.

        Skippy…hay no entry or exit wounds, whodunnit?

    1. aletheia33

      thanks lambert strether for your work in breaking down the video and your post here, and thanks skippy for the links and information.

      i don’t have time to follow up on the original study mentioned in the linked science artilce on the airgun paintball injuries causing permanent blindness, but i’m curious to know, as they are referred to as “nonrecreational” events, just how these guns were used, and in what situations, when they blinded victims. out-of-control domestic abuse? home accidents with kids? drunken rampages? and the like? just wondering.

      also wondering what would be the effect if one of those guns had been fired at UCDavis, as it appears it would have been point blank or nearly, and the students were not wearing any protection over their eyes. seems to me a student could easily have been blinded if this had happened, and it could all too easily have happened.

      it’s hard to imagine it will be long before a patently peaceful Occupy protester is badly disabled (if that hasn’t happened already–how is kayvan sabehgi, by the way?) or killed by some cop who’s nervous or aims badly, maybe not even the sadistic type but one who sincerely believes he’s helping protect the american people from terrorists. (they are not paid to think.)

      it will be interesting to see if that incident, when it comes and the video of it is released (let’s hope that’s still possible at that point), arouses any of the sleeping ones from their flat-screen stupor to try to act to prevent the termination of our civil rights as we’ve known them, or if such incidents simply become commonplace and taken for granted over time. either way, the numbers who choose civil disobedience/direct action will dwindle.

      how long will this scenario take to play out until we either have a wider, stronger movement or we have a resigned, silenced citizenry a la the stasi-run GDR?

      a few short weeks?

      1. Jugo1502

        In 2004, Emerson College journalism student Victoria Snelgrove was killed by a Boston PD officer operating the FN 303 weapon system (I refuse to use the absurd term “non-lethal” in re: to any instrument of war). Young Ms. Snelgrove was celebrating the Red Sox victory over the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series. She was mortally wounded when a pepper spray projectile round struck her eye:


        FN 303: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FN_303

        #Nervous/aggressive officer+lazy marksmanship+inaccurate weapon system=more than blindness

        I fear tragedy lay ahead for our movement. Police will work longer and longer shifts as the volume, frequency, and dimensions of #Occupy alter and evolve. Tension and friction will continue to increase. We have already experienced so many not-so-near misses across the movement.

        For those governed by wrath and reactionary vigor, the olive branch appears the easiest and most attractive object to stamp out; And oh how the stampin’ will continue, what with the weapon systems and tactical doctrines that American police keep at the ready. I find these arsenals to be frightful. To make matters worse, there are scores of scores of scores of Americans who have openly cheered the use of these weapons + tactics against their fellow citizens (and demand more use still). That is what grieves me the most…

    2. Wahrheit

      Yep, those are paintball guns. Police use them with regular ink to mark persons they want to identify later for arrest or they use pepperballs. These contain capsaicin (aka pepper spray) the same ingredient that Lt. Pike hosed onto the seated students. Firing paintballs into a crowd is quite dangerous albeit nonlethal. A direct strike on an eye with even a standard paintball can cause severe injury, including complete loss of the eye.

  4. sonoma

    I completely agree with your analysis. The news here is the discipline, self-restraint, commitment and creativity of the protesters. The police, on the other hand, appear to have recognized that they had escalated the situation with their own actions and did not get the response they had expected. Their leadership seemed to be completely absent. UPDATE: Today the same protesters (plus numerous supporters) rallied outside the chancellor’s office. The chancellor refused to leave, apparently feeling threatened by their presence. The protesters gave reassurance they would remain non-violent and after several hours, she left, walking through the protesters in total silence. Not sure if this link will work but here is where you find it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZ0t9ez_EGI

      1. Patrick McLaughlin

        It was unsettling on crappy video. In person? At the focus of it?

        I’d guess it was like–maybe worse than–a perp walk. 1000 people sitting in silence, thinking shame, shame, resign.

        1. Hoops

          I think this shaming shunning technique could be expanded across the OWS movement. Perhaps forcing bankers to walk a silent gauntlet of shame to get into there office towers every morning.

          The drum circle people could be enlisted to provide a somber drum cadence like at a funeral.

          I also envision thousands pointing and glaring silently in unison (kind of like from “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”) somberly chanting shame.

          I can see it happening at political speaking events, outside the homes and workplaces of the 1% ,everywhere they gather. They must be shamed & shunned. When the thugs line up against us “point out their shame”. Shame on you to “protect and serve criminals”.

          Shame these criminals.

      2. Richard Kline

        So Lambert, it’s a very powerful shunning technique, gets to your soul a bit even if you put it up on the shelf. Conflict gets ones back up, but disdain cuts directly to self-respect. I suspect Chan$ellor Katehi will remember that two minutes for the rest of her life; certainly I hope so. She may not be evil, but her actions ennable evil: She should resign.

      3. PL

        Who set up that powerful silence? Questions start at 1:02 and culminate at 1:12: “Chancellor, do you still feel threatened by the students?” Katehi turns toward the camera and says “No” while a woman walking with her says “We’ve asked for it to be quiet, respectful and silent”(1:15) then they continue walking away. Did Katehi negotiate silence with the students?

        1. SA

          My understanding is that it was proposed by one of the students who was pepper sprayed the day before, who gave a speech via Human Mic outside the chancellor’s office (I think he was allowed to speak to her and personally asked her to resign?). What I read was that he proposed they clear a wide path and go silent so she could not say she was being “held hostage” or afraid of the students.

          Bloody brilliant.

          1. mike

            There’s a somewhat longer video on YouTube that shows the “preparation” for the walk by the chancellor, and then shows the walk itself. I found it to show some useful context.

    1. Richard Kline

      Oh and this one from the initial quad confrontaton, per transcript:

      Occupiers: “PLEASE DO NOT RETURN!”

      That is so cool. They said please. The use of people’s mike was brilliant, and what you see is classic de-escalation training. This is being workshoped and modeled throughout the Occupations, and we see the technique put into effect exactly where it was needed. Clear language. Simple requests. Neutral/respectful rhetoric. Statements not questions or bargaining. I have a ton or respect for the person who kept their head and got on mike.

      And _this_ IS the technique that will scale across this movement as it builds. Organizers are skilling up and spreading what works to each other and to observers. How many people do you think saw that video? Everyone of them was getting an eight-minute deescalation training they won’t forget soon if ever. Action and instruction in one; way cool.

  5. Cieran

    I received my BS, MS, and PhD degrees from UC Davis, and have long been proud of my association with this university. Today, I’m still proud to have been a student at UCD, but I’m ashamed of the actions of the current administration.

    This campus has a long history (dating from the inception of the campus in the 1960’s) of peaceful and constructive political activity, and it’s clear that Chancellor Katehi has never bothered to learn of that unique aspect of the Davis campus experience. She is clearly in over her head, and ought to resign immediately, before she ruins even more of this fine university’s reputation.

    Both my sons both considered following my lead by attending Davis for their collegiate studies. As of today, I’m glad neither one did. The chancellor and the campus administration clearly have no interest in insuring the safety of the students at this campus. The university community deserves better leadership than what these idiots can provide.

    1. Tyler

      Please remember this when the alumni association sends out their fundraising letters. Straight into the recycling bin.

        1. ex-PFC Chuck

          And make sure you send it in the postage-paid envelope that came with the request, so as to stick them with the cost of mailing.

      1. Richard Kline

        Exactly. Headshot at close/moderate range = traumatic brain injury, i.e. brain damage, can be fatal. Eye-shot, or crushed trachea can both be fatal. Multiple instances of all of these outcomes at hands of police using these weapons.

        I’d rather have pepperball guns than the riot shotguns they replace in the hands of the police, but the opportunity for those armed with them to ‘eliminate’ individuals they personally dislike and get away with it is very real and has been exploited in countries where we have exported these weapons. Hellfire shipped to the periphery is backdrafting to the center as of now; more incoming to follow . . . .

  6. ToivoS

    I live about 200 yards from where this event occurred. I did not witness this as I was still at work on campus. But when I came home there was some serious complaints raining on our household. Early on the event was blamed on the city of Davis, but the police that used the pepper spray were from UC-Davis (which is a totally independent entity from our city).

    It is quite amazing to see that the campus police at a major California university is displaying such extreme police state tactics. I have watched our campus police come under the influence of the Homeland Security Department over the last decade — they receive these federal grants that encourage them to become state storm troopers. It has been really appalling to watch this happen. There is no need for a campus police department to become armed with the arsenals that the DHS have provided. The visible display of these weapons on campus were obvious for some time.

    1. skippy

      DHS is a growth industry, what else is keeping the country going except putting people in hospital or jail.

      Skippy…oh yeah more easy credit.

    2. aletheia33

      thanks for the info.; reports are not clearly stating that these were campus police and i had wondered. your point is absolutely straight on. for campus police to even have such equipment and weapons is crazy. what’s the rationale?

      oh right–students can be terrorists, too. and especially at a place of civility like UCDavis, it would be so easy for a jihadist to worm his way in under the radar and set up an operation. the university provides such a welcoming, permissive environment, no one will notice the secret terrorist cell, until the day of revelation cones when all the nice, naive students will be so grateful that we’re here protecting them from the evil jihadists in their midst. or something like that… we’ll make it up as we go along. police need fantasy too.

      1. Clonal Antibody

        The reason for this is economic, and not political.

        The state university budgets in California have been under an intense pressure over the last three decades. University administrators have been trying to scrounge around for funds. Thus when DHS offers a substantial “grant” for “retraining,” it is accepted gratefully with both hands, and money that would have normally gone to the campus police is diverted elsewhere.

        1. SA

          Apparently there is a clause in the law that allows police to receive training and equipment from the military that if they don’t use a piece of equipment in one year, they have to give it back.

          So… connect those dots…

          1. Rex

            I don’t disagree that the campus police were probably militarized from without, but I’m a bit skeptical of the use it or lose it on the weapons. I’d have to see that one in writing before I could believe something so insane.

  7. Anon

    “Looks like a management type in a windbreaker, center of the path. He waves a TV cameraman along. He also seems to be the only policeman, through the entire episode, who’s smiling. (I didn’t see any predatory smiles.)–Lambert Strether”

    This was Captain Darren Pytel of the City of Davis police department. He is not a member of the University of California police department.

    The University of California at Davis is not part of the City of Davis. It is in the unincorporated county and it has a separate police department. The City of Davis police department had been called to help. They did not use pepper spray.

    Captain Patel is also the officer you observed making “pacifying gestures”.

    1. ToivoS

      Yes that was Darren Pytel, I know him. He was obviously trying to defuse the situation and there is no way that he would participate in that pepper spraying incident.

      What we are seeing here is that the UC police have become extensions of the Homeland Security Department and have incorporated the storm trooper tactics that are encouraged by them. The Davis Police have resisted those grants that allow them to assume the face of police state violence. Did you notice the black helmeted uniforms of those campus cops with their threatening grenade launchers? There has been a major change since I attended UC as a student.

      1. Richard Kline

        The good news for me in police action in this incident is embedded in exactly what you just described, Tovio. One police authority has been induced to morph into something grossly anti-Democratic but another police authority not only refused to participate in that but has individuals actively working to undercut repression and bridge the conflict. That division of authorities is one of the many ‘checks and balances’ in our society, and to the extent that it works in the way I just surmised we will all very much need that ‘diffusion of repression’ to function in the coming days. And Tovio, would you happen to have a feel for which local Congressperson, if any in the loop, steered or cheerleadered for those ‘paramilitary grants’ to be steered to the University police? It’s always good to pull the detonator cord into plain view on how these things have been wired.

      2. purple

        Yes that was Darren Pytel, I know him. He was obviously trying to defuse the situation and there is no way that he would participate in that pepper spraying incident.

        Of course he would, if ordered. Don’t be naive. He , like everyone, has bills to pay.

        1. Clonal Antibody

          Of course Darrin Pytel participated in the pepper spraying. All police officers present at the location did, and all are and were culpable in the action. The very fact that they did not step up to stop an on going assault makes them culpable.

          1. PQuincy

            I’m sorry, but your response is exactly the wrong one — and one that the students and Occupiers, correctly, eschewed.

            There are differences among security forces, among policemen, among administrators. Some are better, some are worse (and many, like Katehi, are weak — she’s no doubt an impressive engineer who made good a UIC, but is in way over her head as a Chancellor in a tense situation…just look at the bureaucratic waffling in the ‘letters’ she sends to her campus!)

            So support the sensible and responsible cops, the ones who work to defuse needless violence, the ones who resist escalation. Notice that the guy during the ‘walkback’ brandishing pepperspray was the same one, I think, as did the original pepper spraying. He wanted to do more, he wanted to lash out, retaliate, regain his feeling of command and power (it’s like an aphrodisiac to some men). But the other cops…the chagrined, the cautious, the ones who lifted their visors and talked and interacted with the students …kept that from happening. They deserve some credit, though the lions share goes to the students and occupiers, who both commanded the situation AND defused it. Those cops backing out WERE feeling shame: peer pressure is very real for humans, and by defusing the violence, the protestors were able to be a larger peer group for those cops, shaming and rejecting them. That’s emotionally powerful stuff.

          2. Clonal Antibody


            I beg to differ. The pepper spraying was not a simple random act by a single out of control policeperson. It was a planned action on part of the ENTIRE group of policepersons. They were chagrined after the crowd shamed them. But the criminal act in which they were all culpable was done before, and that was an action performed by the group, and one John Pike was the trigger man.

          3. Richard Kline

            So Clonal, I disagree with your logic completely. First of all saying ‘because they were there they all were participants’ fails any assessment of culpability. That’s just the same as saying in a crowd of thousands if one throws a brick through a window they are all guilty. The contention fails: people are responsible for their own actions and those they control or incite. Second, the police are in a command structure. If the senior officer present acts or gives an order—and that appears to be the case here, the Lt. spraying was the senior of the contingent—anyone under their authority needs a damn good reason to disobey, let alone countermand, let _alone_ interdict that order. We can argue the fine points on whether the other UC-Davis police ‘should’ have blocked the actions of their superior officer, but it’s simply false to deny the situation that those down the chain of command are placed in by egregious actions of superiors. And third, it is far from clear in _any_ video or news coverage that ‘the rest of them wanted to spray.’ If you have rock solid inside evidence on that, that’s another matter. Absent that, your contention that ‘they all wanted to’ is just your opinion, not a matter of evidence. It is not reasonable to condemn all simply on your personal opinion of them. If you’ve read the comments above, you’ll understand that Cap. Pytel is a _City of Davis_ officer. He is not in the command structure of teh _UC-Davis_ police who acted against the students; in fact Pytel has no more authority over them, nor they or him, they you or I do. And this incident took place on University property where those campus police have jurisdiction. I Have no idea why he was there, I would assume as a liaison in case non-students were identified in number amongst the demonstrators and the UC cops wanted to hand those off to community police, though that’s just conjecture. No one has identified Pytel laying a finger on an Occupier. Condemn the police for their demonstrated actions, yes; but don’t condemn them simply because they wear a uniform and are put in jeopardy by a lousy civilian directive and a culpable command decision.

            But beyond culpability for brutality on any one or group of police, I’m asking you to think in a larger way, Clonal, both tactical and strategic. These actions aren’t being undertaken to ‘get it on with the cops,’ even if some may want that. —And as a goal, that would be a ridiculous failure if pursued. These actions are broadly being pursued over grievances with economic injustice and a corrupt political system, and in support of the community being more broadly empowered and supporting each other. Police are individuals, even though they follow orders . . . up to a point. And that point is critical. Working away at the morale of the police, at their willingness to follow bad orders, at their tolerance to be ‘the bad buys’ for a corrupt system _which will hang them out to dry in an eye blink if they generate bad press_: these are objectives both tactical and strategic to work for. Having one officer hold a crowd back rather than use a baton because the can’t stomach it is a victory of an incremental kind. One officer wearing I sing indicating ‘I don’t believe in this’ IS a great victory, because that changes morale and speaks to those around and above that person. Having officers decide to leave the gas canister in the holster, or not take aim with their semi-lethal fire is a victory. Because the action is undermining their willingness to follow bad policy. These are critical, gradual goals for a mass movement for change.

            If all cops are bad cops to you just by being there, that’s your trip. If the only action you’ll accept from a cop as valid is for them to turn their fire on their companions, that’s a ridiculously high bar, and one set _deliberately_ to high to recognize the situation they are in. The victory against police action doesn’t lie in calling them ‘Pigs’ and having them slink away, but in having them move aside of their own volition, and to get that response it takes a minimum of respect and acknowledgment going back and forth. So I’m asking you to think in a larger sense about what you want to accomplish.

          4. Clonal Antibody


            What do you think a police(wo)man should do if he sees an illegal act being performed, that is causing grave harm to another person? Call in to a senior officer to see if he/she should intervene? Or say “It is none of my business?” Or step in to prevent that act?

            My contention is that none of the police thought the pepper spraying to be an illegal act, or even for that matter consider that it was an act that should have been stopped.

  8. helen

    Thanks for the transcript…I think a lot of people couldn’t sit through the 8 minutes. Agreed, “you can go” was inspiring, and it was the tone with which it was said too…

  9. reslez

    Nathan Brown, an assistant professor at UC Davis, demands Chancellor Katehi resign, citing the repeated acts of police savagery:

    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.

    This is what happened. You are responsible for it.

    I can think of a lot of parents who would react very differently than this crowd. If universities continue to invite these uniformed monsters onto their campuses to attack peaceful kids there are going to be real repercussions.

    1. reslez

      Katehi says she won’t resign for inviting police onto campus.

      For the 1% there are no consequences for wrong-doing.

      But hey, at least she said it was “sad”!

      And the police chief pretends the cops felt “surrounded” when the video clearly shows this is a self-serving lie — the cops always had a clear path to retreat in peace from nonviolent kids with no weapons.

      1. ToivoS

        Correction, Katehi did not invite those police on campus, those were the campus police. That is what the modern university has become. Another benefit from the Homeland Security Department.

      2. PQuincy

        Chancellor Katehi is noticably in over her head. Friday she felt in control, told the students “I must now ask that all tents be peacefully removed by 3:00 p.m. today in the interest of safety”, and then sent in the cops (stupid stupid decision, probably encouraged by her apparently authoritarian and wrongheaded Chief of Police).

        After the incident, she at first defended it, saying that “We are saddened to report that during this activity, 10 protestors were arrested and pepper spray was used.” (notice the waffly bureaucratic passive voice…”pepper spray was used”! Did it just use itself? Did Martians fly in suddenly and use pepper spray? No: a senior member of the campus police force, under the direct command of the police chief at the instructions of the Chancellor, calmly and intentionally used pepper spray on passive non-violent sit-down strikers).

        Then, when it became clear that this was not a trivial incident, and the UC Davis police force had made dramatically wrong moves that were playing on national YouTube, Katehi backed off further…now it was “chilling” and “raises many questions about how best to handle situations like this” (short response: NOT THE WAY YOU DID!) She still tries to weasel, speaking of “the troubling events we experienced.” (NO: the troubling events the UC Davis police, at Katehi’s orders, precipitated). And she’s still talking about “providing a safe environment for all to learn freely and practice their civil rights of freedom of speech and expression” (something utterly violated by HER own actions and the actions that she ordered to take place).

        She’s not a leader: she’s a competent go-along type way way out of her depth. I would be surprised if she lasts until June as Chancellor, because her manifest bad leadership and the hapless weakness of her responses since mean that no serious university stakeholders will respect her henceforth — students, protestors, faculty, or the systemwide administration. She’s shown lots of weakness in a crisis, after all.

    2. ex-PFC Chuck

      The UCD faculty and student body should greet her with that same sober, utter silence on all occasions, official and unofficial, going forward. Her ability to lead the institution has now evaporated.

    3. aletheia33

      thank you for posting this letter. worse than i knew. the gag reflex is so stimulated, i feel like i might as well go out and get sprayed myself. seriously, i’m not “arrestable,” as the people’s librarians say–health too fragile. does anyone know what ingredients are actually in pepper spray and how health-compromising they could be? any long-term health risks?

      1. Rex

        I have had the misfortune to experience CS riot gas several times in my brief military career. In addition to the eyes and respiratory tract, it also burns the skin. I have never experienced it, but I think pepper spray is much worse. It is also preferred because it can be focused at a particular person or persons, where CS fills the whole area.

        Looking tonight, this link seems informative both on effects and how to treat exposure…

  10. howard

    i spent most of my childhood in davis, including high school. i attended ucd for two years before i transferred to santa barbara. i own my family home in davis, and i still consider it home. even though i have lived most of the past 25 years in new york city.

    i marched in protest of kent state on that quad at uc davis; i was 13yo at the time.

    i marched from zuccotti square toward wall street (well, walked) on thursday morning.

    anyway, this afternoon i watched this video. initially i was nauseated. by the end, i nearly cried, i was so happy and proud of the students.

    i pay taxes in that town. they have already heard from me. how dare a campus cop serially assault students who are peacefully protesting. how dare police officers raise the barrel of a weapon, any damn weapon, to cover peaceful students on their college campus. how dare the chief of that police force condone this crap.

    davis is my home. my town. i can’t do much to push events at zuccotti square. i sure can raise my voice against this bullshit in my home town.

    i might even jump on a plane tomorrow, so i can be on that quad once again, standing up for the america that town taught me to love. every 41 years, whether the system needs it or not.

  11. howard

    oh, my. darren pytel. his dad was my high school psychology teacher, and basketball coach. i knew darren way back then, he was in grade school. i noticed only the one city of davis cop on the video, and noticed his different demeanor from the rest. as well as his un-helmeted head. and as well as a daily reader of this blog, i am a neighbor of yves here in new york. funny how life goes.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think we should always remember that one consequence of the Stanford Prison Experiment is “There but for the grace of [the] God(ess)(e)(s) Of Your Choice, If Any, go I.”

      1. howard

        well, since his dad taught me about the stanford prison experiment, odds are captain pytel is also aware.

        damn, that was contemporary research when i took that class. the time, it sure flies.

        1. Richard Kline

          So howard, and the Third Wave would have been taught to secondary students in [San Mateo?] exactly your age. Too eerie.

          In the 21st century, six degrees of separation moire into ‘one world, streaming live.’ I’d make another point though thinking about your remarks, though: Repression doesn’t happen to ‘them’ and isn’t performed by ‘those people.’ Repressions strikes the neck of people not only just like us but people we even know, even thousands of miles away. Repression is executed by people who live a few streets down, whose kids go to school with/parents went to church with our brother’s best friend/our co-worker’s father. Just because it’s on video doesn’t mean this isn’t about us: it is us, up there, or was yesterday, or will be tomorrow, because the policies on one side and programming on the other are aimed at us all out here by a tiny, wealthy minority who have retreated to their gated communities and condo-bunkers while seceding from our common society.

  12. psychohistorian

    Mic Check For President!

    I have been lucky enough to meet a few of those in Portland that have the presence to mic check those sorts of situations and I continue to be impressed. These folks know that their future is at stake more than I have given them credit for.

    Unfortunately folk, call me whatever, the next incident that will galvanize the public further will be one of those situations that becomes the Kent State of this time. There is too much at risk for the global inherited rich not to force killings of Americans to keep them in power. It will take those killings to bring the next level of involvement of the public. At that point we will get serious military repression or ???

    It is so gratifying to see such determined peaceful resistance to our sick social system.

  13. Bill Owen

    Those are not rifles, nor are they paintball guns (paintball guns WTF?)

    They are CO2 powered PEPPERBALL guns, and they are serious weapons. They fire a fully automatic barrage of Capiscum powder balls that burst on impact. This hurts of course, and releases a cloud of pepper dust.

    http://j.mp/uTMOiE (video, pepperball gun)

      1. MisterG

        Bad form Skiippy, the weapon is a PepperBall launcher:

        Custom Carbine-S – The Custom Carbine PepperBall launcher has been optimized for demanding deployments and ruggedized for enduring service. Its barrel, internal and external parts, hopper placement, and manufacture quality have been optimized to exacting standards for less-lethal scenarios. It is semi-automatic, target accurate to 60 feet, and can accurately saturate an area with pepper powder agent from up to 150 feet away.

        You can breach load single glass break rounds and immediately follow with Pepper rounds for vehicle or other suspect extraction applications. The Custom Carbine has a 160 round hopper capacity . Works with the optional Patriot 450 Riot Vest for expanded capacity of up to 450 rounds. An optional stainless steel hardware upgrade kit is available for extra endurance and/or use in harsh or marine environments.
        PepperBall® Technologies Incorporated
        Part #: 20098

        Yes, facts matter, so get yours straight.

        1. MisterG

          With “… over 15 million PepperBalls sold …” PepperBall Technologies Inc. is typical of the one high-growth industry remaining in america, the vital internal-repression sector. Funded by tax-payer dollars which are channeled to appropriate organizations by the Department of Homeland Security, this sector provides a shining example of our free-market system in operation.

  14. Patrick

    Davis was not the only place where police used pepper spray when not under threat. Footage of police action in Portland, OR, shows a female demonstrator being blasted – literally – with pepper spray from a distance of less than three feet. Irrespective of the the effects of the pepper spray, blasting stuff into a person’s eyes from such a short distance is a dangerous action.

    At the same time that dozens of police where taking action in downtown Portland to protect bankers, a 15 year old girl was sexually assaulted and the police took over three hours to respond to the incident. Apparently bankers are more precious than young girls.

    1. ScottB

      The story about police not responding to a rape because of Occupy Portland is not true. The incident happened before occupy. Our chief of police was caught lying to the media (see The Oregonian front page 11/19/11).

      1. K Ackermann

        But the fact is… violent crime is happening to victims everywhere. Most without any response from the police.

      2. Patrick

        I stand corrected. Reese didn’t do his chances of becoming the next Mayor of Portland any favors with that misstatement.

  15. Tyler

    Watched the video. Those cops were on the defensive and
    were apprehensive. The herding behavior, the touching each other, the wary looks. The people are winning and they know it in spite of the firepower that they possess.

    As to the “Police chief”, we know what kind of pathetic mediocrities are advanced to power in the University of California system. Why even bother questioning or quoting this lickspittle hireling.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      “Herding behavior.” Brilliant. And what caused the defensive huddle? Words and ideas. And their own guilt.

      Doubtless the elite will escalate, but they always double down on #FAIL. It’s what they do.

    2. Richard Kline

      That’s a good observation, Tyler. Body language tells you a lot about police attitude in these actions. Particularly so since they are trained to project a specific kind of body language, so when they slide ‘off nonverbal message’ it’s indicative of their frame of mind. I don’t watch enough video to do any consistent analysis myself, though I do recall a few things from some of the early actions in lower Manhattan.

      Sharp eyes pick through lies . . . .

    1. Jesse

      I’m always amazed by people like you who will defend such shocking uses of force against nonviolent protests.

    2. howard

      and you think that context justifies the act of the police officer who sprayed the students?

      my goodness.

      if you are an american citizen, daisy, that is truly sad.

      1. ToivoS

        Unfortunately when fascism comes to the US it will not just be a top down conspiracy, but it will also consist of bottom up support that Daisy so openly displays.

      2. particle61

        daisy’s comment reveals the effect of fear as a self-regulator, justifying amoral inhuman brutality used against her brethren – only one of the effects of state sanctioned terror that the owners who hired these storm troopers are relying upon – – daisy has ‘learned well’.

        It is, however, heartening to see the response of commenters here who are inspired by this show of brutality to support the brutalized – as opposed to justifying the aggression as daisy does.

        I guess us taxpayers didn’t realize that all that fancy crowd suppression technology, that was created in American ‘research’ universities and sent first to our imperial occupation outposts in Afghanistan and Iraq, would be deployed on the main streets of every American city…wooo-hooo, pinkerton-america!

        increase empathy/embrace action

    3. Ophelia

      Are you kidding??? That’s even worse. Have you ever felt pepper spray before? Outside of necessary self-defense, I cannot imagine anyone spraying that stuff in the face of someone they’d just been speaking to. If anything, the “accurate” video makes the whole thing even more disgusting.

      Ugh. Those police had NO RIGHT, and they and whomever ordered such actions should be ashamed of themselves.

    4. Richard Kline

      Oh gawd, ‘Daisy,’ must be a busy night; took you one hour and fifty minutes to get in here and try to sandbag a comment thread facts deliberately taken out of context to shape your counter-messaging for ‘undecideds.’ Busy night . . . so many truths to fuzz, so little time. Who’s paying you to do disinformation, ‘Daisy?’ What’s the name of your contracting front? Is is lawyer-like or PR typed?

      Seriously, there are always quislings like you for hire to foregin occupations and other fascists. I doubt you care a jot for the ideology you enable, you’re just in it for the gold teeth and the retirement villa by the Rio Plata.

    5. rd

      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    6. PL

      Just because there was warning, Daisy, doesn’t mean that pepper spraying was a necessary or justified response. Wouldn’t it have been more effective to simply arrest, book and fine the nonviolent protestors?

  16. HTML Reader

    Unless and until the police officers who are committing these assaults are charged and face consequences, we should expect them to continue and even worsen. This is happening all over the country (although not universally).

    1. Why are the officers not charged with assault? We would expect anyone who did the same to a police officer to be arrested and charged.

    2. Why are the other officers standing around passively? We would expect them to act if someone did the same to one of their fellow officers.

    3. Why are the district attorneys in the jurisdictions not filing criminal assault charges? We would expect them to do so if someone did this to a non-threatening (or even a threatening) police officer.

    1. Richard Kline

      Charges would and will be good, but that’s the fine grain. What is really important from the strategic sense is to erode the morale of the police and the local mayors who are being used as cannon fodder to protect the 1% from criticism. The police are only tools in this, my friend, and tools put in motion by hands far above their level. Break their morale, and the _real_ conversation with the perps follows on. That is why, to me, the confrontation with Chan$ellor Katehi of UC-Davis was even more important: she gave the civilian authorization to ‘do whatever you want’ and then ran and hid.

      It’s those crouching behind the police who are the real strategic objective, and so collapsing the morale of the police through their own misuse is the tactic.

      1. HTML Reader

        I agree that it is, but for now it is their “soldiers” versus “our soldiers.” If police officers thought that they would face consequences then their cost/benefit equation changes.

        Now, it is “refuse to obey orders to assault protesters and you lose your job.” But if officers faced criminal charges then their thinking becomes “refuse to obey order/lose job or obey order and face prison.”

        And that’s why they don’t face charges. This needs to be confronted directly so that they DO face charges and stand up with their union to tell their bosses that they won’t obey unlawful orders. But if no one ever questions why they don’t face charges, then there is no pressure to change.

        1. burnside

          I don’t think you’ve understood the force of non-violence. It shames, drains and often absorbs the opposition. Filing charges against the offending officers is operative at ‘one remove’, while silence and the events at Davis leave these participants to confront their motives on their own.

          No indictment is more powerful than the one in your own head. And it won’t leave you alone.

          1. HTML Reader

            That’s wishful thinking. Consider how long Jim Crow lasted in the U.S., how long apartheid lasted in S.A., how long the shameful, dehumanizing prison system has existed and continues to exist in the U.S. 1) There are people who do not think as you do and do not feel your shame. 2) The people who are ordering that this be done are at a significant remove and feel nothing at all, other than what their interests are and what needs to be done to accomplish them.

          2. Richard Kline

            So burnside, I agree with your remarks completely. Folks often don’t understand how nonviolence works because of ingrained analogies regarding ‘force’ which don’t apply.

            Forces oppose. The work in terms of mass. Their effects are linear. Force has visible impact even short of complete effect. And so on. Nonviolence completely violates the ‘logic’ embedded in these analogies.

            Nonviolence deactivates force rather than oppose it, or at worst diffuses force.

            Nonviolence works in terms of dispersion of effort rather than concentration of mass. But beyond that nonviolence also works in the sense of ‘signal’ in the impact it has on morale and belief, both of its practitioners and its recipients. One could make a (poor) analogy of nonviolence as ‘electricity’ rather than mass.

            The effect of nonviolence is often non-linear, especially when used en masse in a prolonged political effort. It’s like the last grain of sand that causes a huge area to slough away to a different position. Or a slow undermining around a hard structure which shifts the ground support so that the stress of the structure against gravity can’t be dispersed effectively and it topples from an impact it would otherwise expand. But these shifts don’t work on a ‘so may days/so many ergs and it’s done’ basis. There are threshholds, but one seldom knows where they are until the authority structure slumps back or falls back into grains of sand from a formerly cohesive mass.

            Nonviolence works on the _will_ of the opponent more than upon their material resources. And in this way, the impact of nonviolence is hard to see because one doesn’t see into the head(s) of those targeted. It isn’t like ‘if we take that building we know we’ve won,’ a direct visible measure of success or failure. It’s more like’ if the police concede they can’t stop us’ or ‘if the authorities initiate negotiations’ or the like. And where the line of morale is crossed often occurs far from the action in the minds of those targeted but not present.

            For these and other reasons, nonviolence doesn’t ‘act’ like most of us expect, so it doesn’t seem to ‘act’ at all to a surface inspection. This is part of what focused leadership matters, because the gradual shifts can be monitored so that a closer assessment of result is achieved. To me.

      2. Crazy Horse

        Richard, I agree with your analysis. Cops are the trained front line storm troopers of the Homeland Security State, but objectively they are part of the oppressed majority. They have seen their home or the home of a friend stolen by financial fraud, and are just as likely to be financially underewater as the next middle class debt slave.

        Hey, Cop:
        Bank of America/Countrywide stole your house through fraudulent foreclosure.
        JP Morgan/Goldman Sachs gambled away your pension funds and added the loss to your tax bill.
        Shouldn’t you be pepper spraying and arresting Jamie Dimon, Jon Corzine, and Lloyd Blankfein instead of us?

    2. howard

      i have emailed the yolo county district attorney, asking exactly this.

      i will be repeatedly and publicly asking until adequate answers are given.

    3. Stephen Nightingale

      Well perhaps it would be helpful if every single one of the students filed into their friendly campus police office to make a complaint, and make sure it gets to the district attorney.

  17. just me

    Your Kent State link doesn’t work for me and also I don’t see the 13-second Kent State clock you mention in your transcript. But here’s a link to a youtube that syncs what I think is the only movie of the shooting with what I think is the only audio:


    The Guard at Kent was ordered to shoot — http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2010/05/new_analysis_of_40-year-old_re.html — and just like Donald Rumsfeld and Abu Ghraib, denied it and deflected blame. Like now, the story then was that the Guard fired in self-defense, and that the students’ assembly was illegal. Hence CSNY’s Ohio record sleeve, which they rushed to release:


    Lyrics on the front, the First Amendment on the back. It’s incredibly relevant, still.

    Michael Moore posted a link a couple of days ago to a long youtube of the OWS projections on the buildings in New York — I started watching — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMvBPqN-vUo — and then froze the screen at the sign at 1:40. James Rhodes? James Rhodes was the governor of Ohio at the time of Kent State. Later I realized the assemblage of names on the sign was from Keith Olbermann’s special comment for OWS, which he lead off with Kent State: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoG9PmdGaT8

    Alan Grayson gave a speech in Congress last year, “They can’t kill us all,” in remembrance of the 40th anniversary of Kent State and the national student strike that followed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OebJEIHetY4

    Yes we remember.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’ll check the Kent State link. There’s no literal timer. I just remembered finding that the Kent State shootings took all of thirteen seconds, and I was struck that the time from the police raising their weapons ’til the Mike Check intervention was about that long. So I put in the stop and end information.

      1. just me

        I’m glad you made the connection to Kent State. I think of it all the time these days. And the Ohio record sleeve. The Guard shirked responsibility, so who was responsible for the order to shoot? Keith Olbermann and many others put the blame on Ohio Gov. James Rhodes, who had called the students “brown shirts” in a public interview beforehand, while Neil Young put it on Nixon. “Tin soldiers and Nixon coming…” My money’s on Nixon, who had just unconstitutionally invaded Cambodia. But so far all we have is miraculous conception smoking guns. And the aftermath seems to be that it is widely accepted that students have no right to peaceable assembly on their own campus. Which is crazy.

        The OWS students are kind of occupying the Constitution, except they call it “civil disobedience.” In fact, I see it as civil exercise of the Constitution, a defense of it. Use it or lose it. I wish they would say THAT.

  18. Montanamaven

    Time for the alumni and parents to occupy. And stop giving money to these institutions that are part of the military academic complex. Stop paying tuition too!

    1. mk

      I was thinking this myself, then wondered, those parents must be heavily invested in our current system, especially their retirement accounts…

  19. seenohearno

    As we know, there’s been a coordinated effort from a federal level (by the DHS and FBI) to break these protests up. Now we have a string of bizzarely similar incidents where police have used pepper spray on non-violent protesters in a completely assymetrical way: small group of protesters lock arms, outsized number of police move in, use pepper spray BEFORE arresting. Why?

    At first blush it looks incredibly stupid.

    But I think this tactic serves two purposes for the oligarchy: 1) It reasserts the authority of the State and threatens those on the fringes who are thinking of joining; and 2) It shifts attention away from protesting Wall Street to protesting the police.

    What a brilliant strategy and we’re falling right into it!

    My fear is that the focus on police brutality will UNFOCUS the legitimate grievances of OWS. Let’s not get carried away with these acts of police stupidity, glorifying them, and getting ourselves paranoid. Let’s get back to shutting the place down!

    1. Richard Kline

      There’s two tracks to this, though, seenohearno. The police are being used to protect the 1%—and it is this issue which the Occupiers are acting to drag into the camera lights. The message of ‘Bankers steal billions without one investigation while nonviolent protestors have a hundred cops thrown on them’ does resonate more widely. And _that_ message is being put out explicity, by the Occupiers as a whole and by individuals who have had police brutality infliceted on them as those individuls indicate in follow up interviews all over the web and wider media. And this last part is an interesting aspect of how the Occupation actions and police response are developing.

      In other places and times, those arrested at actions like at UC-Davis would be thrown in jail for some time, perhaps quite a long time, and so ‘the authorities’ could message what they chose while those on the spot couldn’t rebut that. Now, those receiving police brutality are gettin out in 12 hours on average, and are _back in front of a camera streaming live_ while the issue is still hot or even escalating. I’m not sure how to assess the impact of this, but I do think it is real, and will cumulatively be something new. It is a huge tactical flaw for this police repression that those arrested are back in the action and on record within hours. . . . When we get to Phase Three of all this, ‘the authorities’ will have realized that as a major mistake. There will be a move, I feel sure, to eventually fake-up more serious legal charges against arrestees come Phase Three, so I hope that also by them police morale is sloughing off into more erratic offensive action. Or that we see larger mass actions by then too. Even now, police are backing off when crowd numbers get above 5000, which is sensible since their methods and (numbers) X (force multipliers) fall below effectivness at that scale.

      1. seenohearno

        The protesters have no recourse but to remain completely non-violent. But make no mistake, history has shown that REPRESSION WORKS (<—- I can't bold that enough). Sure, there's a handful of big events where repression backfired. The Civil Rights Movement is a perfect example, and we know all about it. But there are hundreds upon hundreds of smaller protests where a stunning display of violence was displayed by the police and most Americans never heard about it (G8/G20 summits, FTAA, RNC, DNC, WTO….) The current ppolice tactics are out of those playbooks and actually quite tame in comparison.

        Look up "Miami model" for the DHS/FBI response to social justice movements post-9/11.

        We also need to keep in mind how eager the NYTimes, FOX News, and other establishment papers are to put pictures of bloodied protesters in their pages. Sure, it garners sympathy to a point. But trust me, they know that once the average American has seen enough, they'll get fed up with it all and demand normalcy. And in a stunning display of cognitive dissonance, guess who they'll look to for reinstating that normalcy? The oligarchy knows this.

        Again, this is different since it's on a large scale. The police now quite literally have the whole world watching. They can't throw people in pens for 48 hours with nowhere to lay and no access to toilets, because NOW there's 54% of the population supportive and 25% on the fence.

      2. Richard Kline

        Seenohearno, I understand what you’re saying, and I’m familiar with ‘the Miami model.’ But you mis-apply the lessons of repression in my view looking at the historical sample.

        Repression often succeeds initially. And it may be accurate to say that repression succeeds in the majority of instances where it is applied. However, most situations where repression are used do _not_ involve populations using nonviolent organizing. Repression more often falls upon _unorganized_ unhappy people. Reperssion often is aimed at isolated minorities or individuals who either lack public support or who are separated from it at the point of authoritarian attack. The point is that repression is often used on the unorganized who either lack the means to resist or fight back by burning dumpsters and throwing rocks, essentially joining a violent struggle with a popgun against a machine gun.

        In instances where _organized nonviolent_ organizing is used, the numbers turn around. More change movements of this type succeed at least partially than not.

        This doesn’t mean that nonviolent actions always succeeds. If the group using it has no public support, they may simply walk themselves into the barbed wire compounds for the authoritarians to whale on as they choose. That was what happened in the Miami instance, those in the action had little local support and very thing public support as a whole. Nonviolent techniques still work to a degree: consider how Miami would have turned out if it had turned into a quasi armed struggle; we’re talking dozens dead, and that didn’t happen. And nonviolence does not have a record of success against death squads. I think there is some evidence to suggest that death squads can be stalled by nonviolence training, but the political objectives of those doing nonviolence are generally smothered by the earth of the grave.

        Repression has a poor record against nonviolence. —And we see this here again. Do you think that the present police actions against the Occupiers are gaining ground for the authorities or losing it? I don’t think any case can be made that the authorities are gaining ground. What I see is that the Occupiers are becoming more radicalized and much better organized, so that at the very least the net effect of repression will be the strengthening of the exising action for change. And that’s not counting the broadening of public support for the Occupiers and even more for some of the critiques of the Occupiers such as income inequality. Spray an Occupier; the Occupier goes on social media saying why there were there; multitudes hear why that person was there regardless of silence or lies in the MSM; whether one or a thousand are convinced the message spreads. Call it, the Torturer’s Mike . . . .

        1. Dan B

          For what it’s worth, in the final weeks of the GDR (East Germany) the STASI/Party elite (most from the WWII generation) ordered physical repression and intimidation of demonstrators. I met or interviewed many of these demonstrators, and one STASI member as well. I think it fair to say that many of the rank and file STASI, police and military did what one demonstrator described to me: “When their officers were not watching they would stop beating or in other ways repressing us and look away in shame. They had no stomach for attacking fellow East Germans.”

          1. Richard Kline

            So Dan B, exactly, and the instance is worth a lot. Similar ones can be found. The morale of the police will go long before their effectiveness will go, but the goal of action is to erode that morale. And furthermore, those Stasi commanders (if they were any good) knew that they were losing their men because this is very much part of what officers gauge. And that sense of their men slipping away from them is, to me, what finally broke the surface tension of authority in the GDR in this instance, but in comparable examples elsewhere. That sense of the ‘structure’ of authority going gelid induces panic an confusion at the top, far more than mass casualties among the police would.

      3. aletheia33

        @ Richard Kline
        you’ve probably written this elsewhere, but can you clarify, what are phases 1 and 2, and how do you define phase 3, and any phases you see beyond?

        1. Richard Kline

          So aletheia33, I’m using the analogy of phases loosely, and I may generate some confusion with it. I have not explained my thinking on this elsewhere, and I’ll grant that my perspective may not be fully accurate.

          So to think out loud: Mass organizing if sustained does not have the same form and objectives at every point along an extended trajectory. This is true of most activities which function as ‘a campaign’ rather than as an action. It’s not a situation of ”we’ll [do X] every day the same way until [Y happens].’ It’s not even as simple as ‘we’ll come at [Z] from this direction and that one until we finally get there.’ And a ‘campaign’ doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Material circumstances change —e.g. it’s winter now. And even more, in an opposed campaign, such as the Occupations, the other side reacts to what the initiators do, so there is something of a dialectic of effect. That’s a long illustration of saying that in a campaign, situation and methods will evolve, and will typically evolve so much that the function _quite differently_ at different points in a timeline of continuous action. Inherently, there are likely to be phases, then. I take this position from looking at many different historical ‘processes,’ but one needn’t be that egg-heady about it. Andy military ‘campaign’ operated professionally recognizes that there are stages of planning and action and seeks to _deliberately control and dominate_ those stages, to ‘shape the space.’ Even without deliberate strategy of that kind, though, a mass campaign is likely to undergo shifts of organization.

          But more than that, mass campaigns starting from scratch are bound to go through phases of gathering support, meeting opposition, firming near-term objectives, assessing impacts. You hear lambert strether discussing ‘scaling out horizontally,’ from which I’ll extract that point that mass actions which don’t collapse quickly are likely to ‘scale,’ that is change scope, regardless of the vector or modulation. Indeed, keeping a mass movement from scaling would take a deliberate effort on the part of participants to restrict focus, and that is very much not the case here. So my view from comparable examples and the typically inherent aspects of mass propagation of effect, we can anticipate broadly successive states of action which are ennacted somewhat differently even if core participants and methods are continuously involved, though often participants and methods shift _significantly_ if the structure of a mass action is open to any and all comers, as this one has been.

          So Phase One is ‘Drawing a Crowd’ more or less, in this instance. That was achieved by taking ground, drawing in the like minded, and propagandizing observers and opponents. The Occupiers were both fortunate and rather brilliant in that they quickly disseminated common techniques an ideological parameters across a large territory without having to send instructors/organizers place to place. That aspect of this movement will be one to analyze closely from comfortable armchairs in years to come. Yes, the Occupiers marched. And yes, they were assailed by the police and authority both, which served to validate the Occupation movement as one both just and relevant. Authority and the oligarchy was flummoxed, specifically because the Occupiers during this Phase determined upon nonviolence, and nothwithstanding idjits in their midst who like breaking things the Occupiers have largely enforced nonviolence amongst themselves. Authority also tried to counter-message, but those effects were weak and drowned out by videos of police abuse. Governance was left very fluid for the Occupations in Phase One. This was critical in growing participation, but has made effective strategy quite difficult.

          But at some point, the authorities would clearly move to evict, that is would seriously try to disperse the base camps. [Note: This is not inherent. They could have decided to ignore them, which would have been a far, far smarter strategy. I would tend to say that the authorities are too sure of themselves, so that they have chose for a tactical victory even at the probable risk of a strategic defeat, in my view.] If and as they committed to this, a more serious effort at counter-propaganda was likely, though I’ll say that the authorities are doing a damn poor job of it (and let them keep failing). The point here is that we would see a ‘state change’ from Phase One, when the authorities got serious about dispersing crowds and the Occupiers settled upon their response(s). It seems likely that mass specific actions will be part of Phase Two for the Occupiers, but clearly other tactics are under discussion as well. We have seen a mass action already for the Port of Oakland, and the mass action nationally this past Saturday, while planned, was also fairly effective. I would expect that we will see more mobile actions in Phase Two. I think it likely that specific actions for specific goals begin to be more tightly scripted in Phase Two, but that is not certain and there would be advantages to _not_ doing this. But getting coherent governance is likely the most important strategic imperative for the Occupiers in Phase Two, and much of what follows will be guided by the extent to which better governance is achieved. Also, though, whether mobile actions predominate or base camps are contested further, confrontations with the police are likely to increase in Phase Two because there are far more people involved not than before, and they can’t gather anywhere without large masses of police being sent thither. The Occupiers may well expand to also target the gatherings or presence of Very Serious People more in this phase. Whether that’s advantageous or not yet is debatable, but though it hasn’t been a principal action it can be. Further, growing the movement is also still a critical goal. We see actions going on campus now, and that will be extremely important. Another prospect in my view, though, is in drawing in union workers _individually_ out from under their timid and compromised union leadership; this can proceed by solidarity support of striking or threatened workers, not through the union leadership but directly. Cowed union leadership is inhibiting the expansion of this political movement, let’s be frank, but the membership is often more reachable.

          Do you see how Phases One and Two differ in that perspective, aletheia33? Ideally, the Occupiers would be thinking explicitly along strategic lines in growing the movement, setting strategic goals, and evaluating tactics. Yes, just being a community is an important and valid goal by itself, and it isn’t for me to prescribe a specific ‘method’ anyone should be following. What the Occupiers decide on may work better than any abstract strategy simply because they commit to it and that determination is itself a strategic ofjective so long as the actions don’t cost more than they consume in resources and morale.

          So what would _you_ project as likely state changes from the latter matrix? Well, I’ll say one thing in my view: A change to Phase Three would include either, or likely both, of two major ‘state changes.’ Official repression can be scaled up if the authorities decide to escalate. I would think that one part of that would be the filing of more serious legal charges against ‘key organizers’ on whatever phone grounds would serve in lieu of warrants. Because the Occupiers are by and large doing nothing illegal, it is difficult for the authorities to escalate a ‘charges have been filed’ strategy, so alternatively tort action—suits—might be pursued, though again it will be quite difficult to get traction.

          A second potential state change to any Phase Three would be some significant defections to ‘a movement for REAL change’ but authority insiders or some who would by nature rank amongst oligarchs. This would be much less important for ‘building the movement’ in view of the leaderless nature of it than it would be for ‘fracturing solidarity of power.’ I wouldn’t trust any such converts very far myself, and the Occupiers might scorn them altogether, but the act of breaking ranks would be a state change. You may have noticed that very well known faces have so far taken up the core issues of the Occupiers, let along materially aided them. Yes, we have some celebrity artists—whose support I much appreciate by the way—taking personal stances, but many of them are well known already for strong views on social justice, and artists are in a category of their own in influencing mass opinion. The overt defection of individuals in executive positions in education, business, or public government, though, is another matter.

          A third potential state change has to do with the impending election cycle. To the extent to which the Occupiers critique this election cycles on grounds of validity, or are separately perceived as a threat to it by salient portions of the oligarchy, counter-propaganda and targeted repression would likely change in significant ways, though I wouldn’t even attempt to project how that would play. To this point, though, dealing with the Occupation has been farmed out to ‘local authorities,’ in part because there’s no other good course for the powers that be. Having the Occupation become ‘a central concern’ for _any_ reason would be a state change.

          I’ll conclude in saying, as you may note from that sequence, that I see these Phases as _escalating_ in breadth and intensity. And because they are likely to increase in vigor, they can go ‘sideways’ in their course readily in ways we may not now be able to see. That’s enough for now, I think.

          1. Richard Kline

            Phase One: “Draw a Crowd.”

            Phase Two: “Ripple Past Pushback.”

            Phase Three: ‘One (or More) Material Change,” with this being the cusp phase for state control, i.e. either the state suppresses the movement or the movement changes the organizational state of the power structure in some way.

            There would be other significant parameters to assess organizational-state change between phases beyond scope alone—for example, internal governance—but that’s enough for a rough-out.

    2. Montanamaven

      I’d like to meet the guy/gal who came up with “You can go”. Masterful . The students declare their sovereignty. “our university…our quad”. You do not belong here. We have decided though to let you go in peace. But you must leave now.”. Cool! Dig it!

      1. seenohearno

        Agreed, absolutely brilliant! Stays on message, shows the hypocrisy of the State, gets to the heart of who the agressor really is.

        1. MontanaMaven

          That is why Lambert is right to emphasize that part of the video. Powerful stuff as is the silent walk of shame that the president of UC Davis had to walk in the dark Friday night. Very dramatic. In the past these protests have been sporadic rallies and marches mostly against the war.

          This is much bigger and it is not a rally or a vigil. It’s an occupation of the commons and of common sense. My gun owning rancher husband now agrees with me that his friends sitting in their houses counting their ammo and reading their NRA magazines are not the courageous ones. He still feels like it will all come to nothing but he was pretty outraged at what they did to the students. When I showed him the Tampa tank and I said that they are laying off cops and teachers, but the city has tanks, he got it. Hopefully he will spread the word to his buddies at the local watering hole. He is my stealth messenger. Gotta do what you can.

          1. Richard Kline

            So Maven, your husband’s message is _at least as important_ as anything that those in Occupations do, and perhaps moreso because of it’s impact; And that message is simply, “Open your eyes.” Which is what you say he did.

            One reasonable person saying, “Open your eyes, and stop going along” is, to me, the intrinsic message of this movement. Whoever does that realizes that they’re in the 99%. All the rest follows naturally from that realization.

  20. chip

    Being male, should I take offense at your use of the word “policeman” when I definitely saw at least one woman in blue?

    The weapons you speak of are paintball rifles. Painful, yes. Traceable, yes. Deadly, no. You have no need to exaggerate. The situation is bad enough already as it shows how over-equipped and all too eager our police force has become.

    Did you mention the one officer NOT in riot gear, out front, friendly, trying to keep reporters and other bystanders away from harm?

    Other than these minor quips, nice transcription.

    1. howard

      thank you for noticing the one cop not wearing a riot helmet, and behaving as a peacemaker. he is a city of davis police officer (not a ucdavis campus cop, like the others on the vid). he is the son of my old jv basketball coach/psychology teacher, when i was a davis high school student about a hundred years ago. he was a great kid when we were young, and while difficult to judge from a few frames of video, he appears to be serving the public, not attacking and assaulting his employers.

      as far as paintball guns or so-called non lethal rifles. how dare campus police officers raise the barrel of their rifle to cover peaceful, non-threatening college students? i don’t care if they were aiming daisy air rifles–completely unacceptable in the context as presented by the facts to date. this is intolerable and inexcusable. the adults in charge will be compelled to change this crap, up to and including governor brown.

      1. Stephen Nightingale

        Considering the students pay the hefty fees, then the campus police were actually raising their weapons at their own employers. Worth reminding them of that.

        Re: the Chancellor’s perp-walk in silence. Agree that chanting would have been over the top. But how about a murmur progressing down the walkway. The words “Kent State” would have done just nicely.

        1. subalp

          There’s a lot of power in that silence, though. I can see portions of that video being used in documentaries of some sort decades from now, largely because of it.

      2. Richard Kline

        So howard, even unarmed _large_ groups of people can rush cops and beat them do death. Or take them hostage. Or seize their weapons and use them. Police are trained specifically to be mindful at all times of the _potential_ for such outcomes, even in instances where most present are specifically, overtly trying to avoid it. Something that I don’t think most people realize at all, but they should, is that putting on a police uniform makes a person a target, and that those wearing any kind of security uniform are very, very, very aware of that aspect every moment they have the uniform on.

        I’m not saying that to excuse anyone’s conduct. I do think, though, that it is important for those who are likely to come into conflict with police to understand how the police think, for tactical reasons if no others. And that is part of what the de-escalation in this situation shows so potently: the person on mic grasps how this looks _from the cops’ perspective_ and clearly gives a way out from an escalation.

        Cops in uniform don’t see things like any one else present might, they see things through their training and through the fact that they are targets. Let’s all keep in mind that the perspective of police (and soldiers) isn’t necessarily any more ‘evil’ than is most of ours, but that their thinking takes place in a box that is quite different than the decision space of any others present or any observers at all.

        1. howard

          no worries, richard. i fully understand exactly what cops are trained for, and how they are trained. i am aware of the range of hypothetical situations, being tossed about to vainly excuse the inexcusable.

          but not only did not a single member of the crowd rush the cops. or attempt to seize a cop weapon. or even gesture or move in the direction of any of these aggressive, threatening actions.

          nothing happened to reasonably raise any concern beyond mindfulness of any potential threat to the cops. much less to raise the barrel of a weapon and cover any of these protesters.

          the ‘what ifs’ are sufficiently covered by their assuming a defensive huddle formation, backing out of the situation, and relying on their possession of deadly as well as ‘non-lethal’ weapons, their helmets and body armor.

          the one critical defensive tool they utterly lacked–judgment. particularly, judgment exercised by one of their senior officers, lieutenant john pike III. i am not sure if he was the most senior officer on the scene.

          again, in case you missed it. there was a captain of the city police force (who was there to assist and support the uc police riot thugs). he was not wearing a helmet. he was not holding a nightstick. he was using his voice, his hand gestures, and even an occasional smile, to properly respond to the actual situation. (as opposed to some ‘what if’). yeah, i’m biased because i knew him and his dad. but the video speaks volumes, clearly illustrates the right and wrong way for a skilled cop armed with judgment for that particular actual situation.

  21. patricia

    Lambert, I might be wrong. I sometimes see things as more intentional than they are.

    That said, it seems to me that these police were trying a maneuver they recently learned/put together. Just because some of the police were embarrassed doesn’t mean that it wasn’t planned.

    For one thing, Pike stepped out from behind the sitting protestors at .05. At the same time, the police in front of the protestors backed off. He waves his pepper spray bottle around to show his colleagues and everyone what he is going to do, and then off he goes. Immediately afterwards police step in and work on the sprayed protestors.

    The pleasant-looking supervisor talks to someone on walkie-talkie at 2:23, 2:35, 2:40, but is in/out of screen. At 3:11 the police start pressing students off the sidewalk and then policemen start coalescing down the middle of the walk and begin retreat. There was no exteriorly threatening reason for them to start moving off. It was a coordinated move.

    Yeah, the reaching out to each other was curious (3.25, 3.45, 3.56, 4.01, 4.24). When they just stand there at 5:07, I am supposing they had come to the end of the maneuver, more or less, it having ended with something like: “stay together and wait for the trouble we know will come from our provocation”. But as there was none of the expected trouble, they were flummoxed and embarrassed and very wary. So they clung together and slowly backed off, peering in every direction as if threatened by a cackle of starving hyenas.

    So at 6:30, after something occurs off camera that we don’t see/hear, Pike gets the bright idea to provocate a little more, perhaps a last attempt to push it over the edge, by repeating his waving-the-sprayer act, asking his buddies for an extra sprayer for the performance. At 7:01, Pike looks behind him and gets approval for retreat which he relays to his fellow officers. And off they go.

    But of course, the real story is how our dear fellow citizens responded so beautifully. I am soo proud of them. I wish we knew some of their names as we know Pike’s. They completely declawed the battle scenario that was shoved onto them and turned it into a complete embarrassment.

    I agree that we need to understand what the police have determined to become (at the moment), our combatants. Not all of them are happy about it. I suspect this was a somewhat half-baked attempt at some tactics they’d been learning. This incident is useful for us because it was confined and simple. One thing is clear—their maneuvers include co-opting a compliant media. That videographer was an approved part of the plan.

    Thanks for caring so much, Lambert. Your work is an additional vital element.

    1. patricia

      A correction. At 6:20, a police comes forward from back of group and speaks to Pike. Pike nods and immediately (6:25) he turns to his fellow officers and they hand him two pepper sprayers which he shakes up and down.

      I was wrong–it wasn’t Pike’s bright idea. He was following directions.

      1. PQuincy

        The role of UC Davis police chief Annette Spicuzza deserves a lot of very close attention at this point.

        1) the UC Davis police have all the riot gear and trainings of a serious paramilitary. Why? As chief, this must be in part her doing.

        2) The Chancellor ‘decides’ to send the police to forcibly clear the protestors Friday afternoon. Who advised her on this? Surely Chief Spicuzza’s professional assessment was a major precipitator of this stupid decision.

        3) By her own account to the press on Saturday, Chief Spicuzza followed the whole incident from the edges throughout. She was calling the shots, and the shots were called in a very dangerous, stupid, and provocative way.

        4) One thus wonders if it was Chief Spicuzza who ordered the Pike to provocatively gesture with the pepper spray during the ‘walkback’ — perhaps expecting to provoke some action that would justify further violence. He was on radio, someone told him to do this. Who else?

        In short, circumstantial (and so far only circumstantial) evidence argues for the possibility that Spicuzza is an authoritarian and active opponent of student protests, for whatever reason, and made choices that clearly opened the possibility not only of the needless violence of the pepper spraying, but also the possibility of a real riot (which was not inherent in the situation at all). Why?

  22. craazyman

    this reminds me of a Billy Jack movie. ha ha

    Is this 2011 or 1971?


    The cinematography isn’t quite up to current standards, but Hey, it’s Billy Jack! I guess Billy Jack these days is Mic Check and the roundhouse kick is metaphorical. I suppose that’s progress. :)

  23. Lloyd C. Bankster

    (Letter to Mayor Bloomberg from a group of concerned Wall Street bankers.)

    Dear Mike,

    Now the OWS vermin are starting to occupy abandoned and decaying buildings, cleaning them up and using them as shelters to serve the poor and homeless. This is completely unacceptable, as the poor should be left to die in ghettos and back streets, out of sight and out of mind. *Not* in abandoned buildings near neighborhoods or shopping boutiques of the one percent. And certainly nowhere near Paulson, Dimon or any of my golfing buddies.

    It’s time to declare a national emergency as this is a direct assault on the billionaire class. Use Rex-84 (Readiness Exercise 1984) to suspend the United States Constitution, declare martial law, place military commanders in charge of state and local governments and detain all members of the Occupy Movement as national security threats, as well as all of their sympathizers.

    Have everyone in the MSM repeat that Occupiers are Terrorists, repeat this 24/7, until the public “groks” the message. And once these security measures have been implemented, it will be time to launch operation Einsatzgruppen der Sicherheitspolizei und des NYPD, using specially equipped gas vans and carbon monoxide, in order to “process” these OWS worms before their despicable ideas, such as “democracy” or “equality”, begin spreading like bacillus.

    Please forward a copy of this directive to the errand boy at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and remind him to keep referring to us as “savvy businessmen”.

    Signed: Lloyd C. Bankster


  24. Dave Stratman

    Here is a comment (by John Spritzler) on the video which I found very powerful:

    There have been a lot of positive developments in the Occupy movement in the last few days. Much of it is reported at http://www.occupywallst.org (which announces in its header: “The revolution continues worldwide.”

    One amazing video is at http://occupywallst.org/article/whom-do-you-serve/ –amazing because of how it ends. It starts out showing the cops attacking students at U.C. Davis, pepper-spraying students, who were sitting down on the ground with their heads bent down, repeatedly (nothing new there) and a large crowd of students chanting “Shame on you!” to the cops (good, but not terribly new either), but then something unexpected happens: The students take the offensive, not violently, but in every other way, and they start marching into the cops, forcing the cops to walk backwards. The students actually drove the cops off the campus, chanting “cops clear out!” and such.

    This was not a tactic from the nonviolence book; the students didn’t passively let themselves get arrested or go limp. No! They told the cops to leave, and marched into the ranks of cops to make them leave. Three cheers for the U.C. Davis students!!

    Of course the cops were armed and the students were not. The cops could have used whatever violence necessary to remain on the campus, even shooting the students on the spot if they dared. But they didn’t dare to use their superior violence in this incident. I wonder why not?

    Two things come to mind. 1) The “white shirt” commanding officers of the cops or the politicians above them may have been afraid that if they used violence it would have strengthened the Occupy movement and diminished whatever legitimacy the ruling class has left. Or 2) the “white shirts” and politicians may have been uncertain that the blue shirt cops would have obeyed orders to use lethal violence (their limited pepper spray couldn’t stop the large crowd of students) and afraid to risk having to deal with a mutiny by the cops. The cops seem to have been almost eager to retreat. Or maybe there’s another explanation.

    In any event, it is encouraging to see the Occupy movement force the cops to retreat. I hope this is a preview of how the movement can grow so large as to prevail against the ruling class completely, by overpowering them and causing them to be unable to trust that their hired cops and soldiers and sailors will obey orders to attack the movement. Revolution is possible!


  25. don

    What you call a narrative is really an interpretation of an event. While an accurate interpretation, using the term narrative strikes me as one that is meant to shape what is the storyline, how we are supposed to think about an event. Narrative has become a postmodern, fashionable term, the outcome of Jacques Derrida’s theory of deconstruction, in which narrative today has evolved into a normative construction.

  26. Paul Tioxon

    The level of political dissidence has not risen the to the level of sedition, insurrection or actual organized violent resistance. So the reaction of the police serves to put the public on notice that even speaking while assembled in public is an event requiring law enforcement. And the use of force against the peaceful, unarmed, matriculated and I might add, very polite verbally to the cops, is overreaction, and over reach commensurate with the political overreach of the right wing to dismantle the New Deal, the Great Society and Civil Rights wholesale.

    The police need to be reformed to be political neutral in all political spheres, whether at the polling booths or in public. Politicians can not be allowed to order police actions against political events or participants. Only criminal behavior requires police presence or activity. There needs to be a non-violent civil affairs squad, attached to political events to ensure civil rights are not impaired by the police. They would be an equivalent of the Internal Affairs department that investigates the police. There needs to be a firewall between the political use of the police forces and their control by politicians against the public. The police have to be neutral in politics, like the military.

    1. John

      down here in Texas it seems like every large event, dance hall, music festival etc. is casually patrolled by county sheriff department personnel earning an extra buck. Almost never a lick of trouble. Might be an interesting tactic to hire authorized, uniformed, armed officers of the law to shepherd over #OWS events. Perhaps move events and demos to unincorported areas – farms and small towns – where jurisdictional issues wouldn’t come into play. Seems like a suckers game to me the way this is going. Play to the rural audience for a change of pace and the media would come running like the @#$%*’s they are. Throw a curve ball. Get the message out on terms and conditions that are under #OWS control. Might be a good idea for some of these folks to get to know their rural neighbors since the depression is on and no amount of reforms is going to stop it. Do they really want their hands on the steering wheel when the car goes over the cliff for the next few decades?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author


      This is actually lambert, guest DJing. If you could credit me, and not Yves, that would be great. Not for my ego, but because it’s not fair to her to associate her name with something she didn’t ask to be associated with.

      But I’ll be more than happy to add the links tonight. I think this could go viral very, very fast.

      Does Mike Check have a facebook page? I’d grab one soon.

      UPDATE Oh, and I dno’t think it’s an “I am Mike Check” thing (fake persona). That would be fun, but I think the larger point is better served by “We are Mike Check”

      1. Matthew Johnson

        lambert, thanks for the correction. I’ll make the updates where I have posted. I agree it could go viral very, very fast. I also agree that it is not about a fake persona, but about all of us. The name Mike Check is a stand-in for all of us as a mic check is the people’s voice speaking.

        I created MikeCheck2012 on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and also registered the domains (.com and .org). Again, not for my ego, but in order to make sure no co-opters get there first. If it takes off we can figure out what to do with the accounts…

        1. Richard Kline

          So lambert and Matthew, I love this idea, and hope it goes big fast. And what you two are doing is an archetypal instance of horizontal scaling. “We are all horizontal now.”

    2. Stephen Nightingale

      Just ordered a bunch of bumper stickers from Zazzle:
      “@MikeCheck2012 for President”.
      Needed a face, and the most respectable one I could imagine was FDR. With the flag behind him.

      I adamantly oppose bumper stickers on any car I drive. But this time I’m making an exception.

      1. Richard Kline

        So Stephen, well done. I suggest, however, no human face be used. If people see one, they will focus on it, and that will inhibit the ‘generalizing’ of the message just a bit. That’s one reason why the Vendetta mask has stuck around (though I’m not suggesting using that), because seeing an image rather than a face we project what we choose onto it.

        Maybe an animal. Maybe in a hoodie. Just thinking out loud here. Ever seen a real ‘Guy Fawkes’ straw man?; maybe that. Or a a tan cardboard shape roughly face-like, with or without something on it, mirroring the improvised signs. Something. But not a face.

        1. Richard Kline

          I mean not a _specific_ face, but something face-like. A face-like silhouette is perhaps the most deeply embedded visual object in human cognition. There’s plenty of research on this, and it may have a reflexive aspect that is processed sub-cortically, i.e. below conscious recognition. So something face like engages observing humans a a deeper level than they realize; just not a specific face.

  27. casino implosion

    The whole meme of “they were surrounding the officers/cutting off their retreat/proper training and procedure dictate armed response” is pathetic.

    If I were one of those cops watching a youtube of myself strapped and looking like I was in the middle of a firefight in Fallujah instead of a quad with a crowd of upper middle class hipster kids, I’d be sweating with deep shame.

  28. patricia

    In the vid Daisy so kindly, hah, linked


    …at 4:58 Pike says something like “So we’re backing it up” and motions police to retreat. He keeps motioning back and repeats at 5:04, “So we’re backing it out all the way to ___.” This compares approx to 3:18+ on terrydatiger’s vid.

    One of the things that makes me most angry is the way generally good-hearted people (like some of these security) get caught and are required to make terrible moral decisions. I remember my daughter asking me about boycotting BP stations after the Gulf oil spill, and having to say, of course we must, but do not forget that the gas stations are franchises owned by people like us and the consequences land completely on them.

    I despise that. It outrages me.

    1. PL

      The police are caught in a situation where they probably think it’s impossible to walk away and save face. What made them think that pepper spray is an appropriate response to non violent protest? Whose playbook did that maneuver come from?? Are they not trained to meet non violence with proportionate, commensurate response?

      1. patricia

        Yah, it isn’t even close to an appropriate response. I’m supposing that these security folks are practicing the new post-9/11 approach to policing, which connects domestic protest to “soft terrorism”, requiring a military-type response.

        I imagine if you’ve been inculcated in that view of your fellow citizens, citizens become slightly de-humanized, in the same way that the military de-humanizes its enemy in order to get their nasty job done.

        But we’ve been de-humanizing people in our financial/economic sphere for quite a while, now, and in the “war on drugs”, and also in our medical care system. So maybe it’s a kind of zietgeist. I don’t know.

        Sure stinks.

  29. Fernando Garces

    Great insight. Kudos to the person(s) who caught this video narrative.

    The People’s Mic is one of the greatest ‘weapons’ of all time!

    Amazing action, and clever tactic (Adbusters must be proud!), on the part of the person who called for the Mic Check to let the cops know that, despite what had just occurred, there was no deep-seated animosity toward them.

    I can only hope that the look on the police faces affirms the notion that maybe, just maybe, they feel like they are been duped and manipulated, as this article suggests. If that proves true, they need to join us!

  30. AynRand

    Do you want to play with fire little hippie boy? don’t cry when adults give you a nice spank

    now get a job or shot yourself little boy

    1. SidFinster


      Liberals hate them, but firearms and ammunition are cheap and plentiful in the United States. USD 900 gets you an AK and 1000 rounds, last I checked. I won’t even go into the other ways to get hold of a rifle.

      If the government ever starts shooting protesters in earnest, the protestors can start shooting back. There are a lot more protesters than there are cops, and they aren’t bound by the same rules of engagement. vid. Afghanistan.

      You’d better plan on Going Galt a long ways away, cause a civil insurrection is hell on private property….

    1. Richard Kline

      So patricia, that might be her only positive quality, but everybody’s got at least one golden thread, hey?

  31. Joe Firestone (LetsGetitDone)

    Lambert, Terrific post and discussion following. Great analysis outlining the tactics of civil disobedience. Very moving to people who watch these videos and who have any soul left. America has descended into near-fascism, but courage like this can pull us back from the brink.

    Also, Bloomberg with his actions in New York has doomed any chance he may have had for a third party candidacy. After al with Bloomberg at its head, his new party will instantly be called the Party of Fascism.

  32. the shadow of himself

    “Henry David Thoreau believed the obstacles for change would not be governments but the ones who protest yet still obey (1849)….

    “Mahatma Gandhi didn’t invent nonviolence as a negation of violence. Nonviolence, for him, was a constructive program. But it was not running away from violence. In non-violence non- and –violence confront each other. Nonviolence goes where it is really needed. Nonviolence gets inside the violent system.

    By going into a system to change it, nonviolent resistance is closer to parliamentary politics, cooperatives, communities and fair trade than demonstrations and protests. Demonstrations and protests are thought to have an effect even though they stay out of the power systems they want to change. How does one think one can send effective signals from outside a system into it? The mystical medium is information, to be conscious, which would lead to enlightenment and change.

    Proactive resistance materializes visions and morals. This nonviolent incarnation happens inside military bases, companies, prisons. Nonviolence is to imprint.

    Then it becomes possible to repeat. It replicates as communication and repetition. The repetitions become stories, innovations, habits, routines, institutions and systems. A society grows out of repetitions. Paradoxically, change is always repetition; otherwise it is just an event. What we call society, culture, economy are series of repetitions which are coordinated through imprints (imprinted memory).

    What makes nonviolence so special is that it works like a hologram. Every part of the hologram includes the whole picture. If you block out part of the hologram, the rest would still contain that part. The simple action is never a simple action, like poetry it creates a world. Nonviolent resistance is a whole vision.” – Per Herngren

    Disobedience as construction:


  33. Motorod

    Title 18, U.S.C., Section 242
    Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law

    This statute makes it a crime for any person acting under color of law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom to willfully deprive or cause to be deprived from any person those rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution and laws of the U.S.


    United States of America Constitution
    Article I

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

  34. F. Beard

    OK. I finally watched that video.

    My response? Rage. I literally wanted to kill that fat pig with the pepper spray. So insolent. So callous.

    However, ‘Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.’ Romans 12:19
    New American Standard Bible (NASB)

    Please make an example of that cop soon, Lord. Yet not my will but Thine be done. Amen.

  35. Economic Maverick

    Can we please have a national discussion about the State agent/Police brutality?

    This should include
    -Power of Police Unions and their total lack of public accountability

    The #OWS movement is NOT part of the usual Left/Right brain-dead debate. The power of police unions should absolutely be on the table, along with a discussion of who’s interests the police actually serve. Are they serving the 1% or the 99%. Seems pretty clear to me here

  36. MichaelC


    Transcripting the video was brilliant!

    You’ve found the antidote to soundbite journalism.

    Distinguishing noise from signal is always difficult when you just see the clip broadcast as part of the story.

    OWS is going to be successful simply because there’s not enough noise in the world to drown out the core message. The 1% need to be restrained.

    Marrying the video with the text helped me filter the noise I’m sure to encounter when I see this broadcast anywhere else.

    I think the quality of the comments on this would have been less thoughtful without the accompanying text.

    Nice work.

    1. lambert strether

      Awesome link, HTML Reader, on the interview.

      NOTE I try to call them Occupier, and not “protesters.” What we are seeing now is not “protest” as we have understood it, but something new.

  37. PQuincy

    For the record, and to see the difference between a high administrator who communicates effectively compared to Chancellor Katehi, check the statement just issued by UC President Yudof. Yudof is a tough, mean, unpleasant fellow whom I often disagree with, but he’s also smart, effective, and has helped the University in important ways. He deserves credit for this statement, which minces no words, and which is a world away from Natehi’s wishy-washy ass covering.:


    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.[my emphasis]
    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.

    1. PQuincy

      Just compare Katehi’s to Yudof’s rhetoric (and both, to be sure, are rhetoric):

      Katehi: Yesterday was not a day that would make anyone on our campus proud. (distributing blame, no personal engagement)

      I spoke with students this weekend, and I feel their outrage. (note that she expresses no outrage on her own part this way)

      I am deeply saddened that this happened on our campus. (“Saddened” is the best she can do? She’s sort of trying to apologize while not apologizing — no doubt at the advice of campus counsel, since lawyers are trained to do the stupidest thing, in many cases)

      I am forming a task force made of faculty, students and staff to review the events and provide to me a thorough report within 90 days.(Displacement of responsibility, diffusion, delay)

      Yudof: I am appalled (direct personal engagement)</em)

      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. (personal pledge to act in his own person)

      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. (Not appointing a committee to report, but convening a discussion himself.)

      Yudof may be a card-carrying 1%-er, but you’ve got to respect the difference between his response and Katehi’s.

      (Katehi, quoted from the LA Times: “I spoke with students this weekend, and I feel their outrage,” Katehi said in a statement. “I am deeply saddened that this happened on our campus, and as chancellor, I take full responsibility for the incident. However, I pledge to take the actions needed to ensure that this does not happen again.”)

  38. Kyle

    As to the “non-lethality” of the paintball guns. As an expaintballer I know that close range shots to the head and neck can be very painfull and potentially dangerous.

    The paintball guns in the video look very similar to Tipmann paintball markers, while competition limits them to 300 FPS. If someone was so inclined they can potentially fire in range of 400 to 500 FPS. Even at regulation speed a shot to the face, eye, ear, or neck at close range could cause blindness or injury. In the worst case scenario, overclocked gun and a close range shot to the neck or eye there is the potential for lethality.

  39. JSK

    I am almost 11 years old and my parents explained the occupy wallstreet protests to me and showed me this video.I don’t think that the police pepper spraying people is fair. I mean the students didn’t harm the in any way the police are probably just scared that the students are going to overpower them.

  40. Susan

    Strether, thank you for this. I’ve been trying to get people to focus on what happened AFTER the sadistic outrage with the pepper spray, but haven’t been able to get past the horrible act.

    What the students did here is something I have never seen.

    I was interested to see that a different but also inspired moment happened later on the same campus, resulting in the long silent walk of the Chancellor down a long path through a large silent crowd of students. No threats, no intimidation, but a demonstration of dignity and purpose by the students. There seems to be some collective genius at work there at the moment.

    Video here:


  41. JohnBoy

    What is over looked is that pepper spray is a chemical weapon classified as a neurotoxin – a kinder, gentler chemical weapon that is considered to be non-lethal. Its lethality and other adverse health effects are directly related to how it is used and the promptness and quality of medical attention provided after its use. From NYPD Procedure No: 212-95, Use of Pepper Spray Devices (included in the Appendix of Report of the Pepper Spray Committee Civilian Complaint Review Board of New York City).

    … discharge pepper spray into a subject’s eyes for maximum effectiveness, using two (2) one second bursts, at a minimum distance of three (3) feet …

    The Patrol Guide prohibits the use of pepper spray against subjects who passively resist (e.g., going limp, offering no active physical resistance). If possible, avoid using pepper spray on persons who appear to be in frail health, young children, women believed to be pregnant, or persons with known respiratory conditions.

    Avoid discharging pepper spray indiscriminately over a large area for disorder control. (Members who are specifically trained in the use of pepper spray for disorder control may use pepper spray in accordance with their training, and within Department guidelines, and authorized by supervisors.)

    The desk officer will ensure that all prisoners who have been sprayed with pepper spray receive appropriate first aid, if needed, upon arrival at the stationhouse. Desk officers are also responsible for ensuring that prisoners who have been sprayed with pepper spray are properly observed throughout the arrest process, and that they receive prompt medical attention if they need or request it. A Command Log entry will be made stating whether the prisoner has had his/her skin flushed with water, been examined by EMS, or been transported to the hospital.

    The NYPD procedure has several interesting provisions:
    – Discharge pepper spray into a subjects eyes
    – Using two (2) one second bursts
    – At a minimum distance of three (3) feet
    – Prohibits the use of pepper spray against subjects who passively resist
    – Use of pepper spray for disorder control must be done by offices trained in its use for disorder control
    – Pepper spray is not to be used for disorder control except by officers who are trained
    – Desk officers, not arresting officers, are responsible for the health of prisoners
    – First aid, if needed, is done after a prisoner has arrived at the stationhouse

    If the NYPD pepper spray procedure is representative of police pepper spray use, we have a serious problem. My primary concern is that its use does not comply with the procedure and possibly by officers who are not trained in the use of pepper spray for disorder control. Video tapes can be reviewed to determine where pepper spray was aimed and for how long. This objective evidence can be reviewed against police training and procedure documents, manufacturer’s recommended usage, and material data safety sheets (MDSS) which describe the health effects of hazardous materials. This can be done a few days or less depending on the number of people involved.

    Advanced Chemical Weapons – http://www.tscm.com/mace.html
    is a comprehensive guide to the effects of pepper spray and its use. It states that pepper spray is a neurotoxin. Of interest is the “When to use – Use of Force Ladder or Continuum” that is about half way through to document.

  42. dear occupant

    shame is the new black and nothing is more powerful than the truth especially when it’s caught on video. i agree with villanova. we don’t need hyperbole. we have the truth and it’s finally being broadcast on the msm.

    as useless as they usually are, even the desk jockey on cnn last night was pressing Spicuzza on the proper police procedure for pepper spray while the video was being replayed over and over. even the most casual observers can recognize abuse when they see it.

    if that was a “split second decision”, then that piker is a painfully slow thinker and has no business being in a police uniform. as sad as i am that this had to happen, i’m so proud of those students and all the frontliners who are sacrificing themselves for us all. thank you.

    shame is the new black.
    if we continue to occupy the high ground, there will be more silent walks of shame in their future. how frightening for them.

  43. aerosol

    Reading Katehi’s bio, I deduct that she must have been a student in Athens Polytechnic school during the 1973 uprising and the resulting massacre. These events are deeply carved in Greece’s psyche and November 17 (the day of the massacre) is observed as an educational holiday, while thousands of people march and lay wreaths on a monument within the “Polytechneio”. It is indeed ironic that the pepper spraying at UC Davis happened at almost the exact day of these commemorations.

    I should note that after the fall of the Junta and the restoration of democracy in Greece (1974), the living memory of the uprising helped the establishment of the “University Asylum”. This is -or, rather, was- a law prohibiting police forces to enter university campuses without having being formally asked by the Dean -and Deans were very reluctant to ask for such a thing. It is true that during civil unrest this asylum has been abused by some activist fractions, but was still regarded by most as a useful measure that protected democracy and the students’ free speech rights. This asylum is no more: after 2 years of crisis and increasing occurrences of civil disorder the law has changed and the police can interfere, although the Deans are still to be asked for permission -which is not considered unheard of anymore.

    I’m translating an excerpt from an interview Katehi gave to Alex Mizran on the 4/10/2011 (found here: http://usa.greekreporter.gr/?p=4994 )

    “Q: What’s your position on the so-called University Asylum?
    A: There was a time when the university asylum was important for the protection of civil rights. Nowadays, it seems anachronistic and it helps harbor elements of societal disorder. It saddens me that it was used by university deans as a way to not go forth with changes that were necessary for the improvement of education and student’s life.”

  44. vermeer

    The kids showed huge courage and restraint when being subjected to an unprovoked assault. Their parents should be proud of them. They give some glimmer of hope to this rotten world.

    As for the cops, the crowd had it dead right, ‘Shame On You’

    1. MattGMD

      @ Magpie

      Our police officers very seldom incur criminal charges for any excessive force incidents. Those that do are when a video shows the excessive force or if the autopsy from medical examiner greatly disputes the officer’s report of circumstance. When one is charged, then almost never convicted – juries brainwashed to think the cop must have been right or the dead criminal had it coming. In the rare times when there is a conviction, then they don’t receive nearly the long sentence as a citizen would.

  45. Mapgie

    I’m not a lawyer and, on top, I live in NSW (Australia), where our laws surely differ from those in California and the US, but to me, it looks like the police officer using the pepper spray was actually assaulting those kids.

    At the very least, he was using disproportionate force.

    I am amazed he was only suspended and not charged. In NSW, simple assault can carry a penalty of 5 years imprisonment.

    1. LucyLulu

      It was assault in our country too, IMO. If it had been done by a civilian, charges would have been pressed. I don’t know the official policy of UCalifornia on the use of pepper spray but one jurisdiction that I read, NYPD document I believe, its use against passively resisting citizens by police is legally considered assault. If not explicitly permitted per policy, I agree that at minimum, he should have been suspended without pay, as should any superior officers present.

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