Side With Pepper-Spraying Thugs
by Steven Greenhut: But
America IS A Police State
If you want
to know which of your friends or neighbors believe in a free and
humane society and which ones believe in a police state, show them
the now-gone-viral video of a riot-gear-clad University of California-Davis
police officer dousing a peaceful group of Occupy protesters with
pepper spray as they sat, arms linked, in the campus quad. Most
of us react in horror at what we saw, and at the absurdly dishonest
explanations from the campus police chief. But some people think
the protesters got what they deserved and even called for heavier-handed
and these days, campus security guards have gained the power of
full-fledged police officers, complete with those massive pensions
and all the usual protections from accountability claimed that
the officer felt that his life was in danger when they he methodically
walked down the line of protesters and assaulted them with the spray.
"If you look at the video you are going to see that there were
200 people in that quad," said Chief Annette Spicuzza, who
was placed on leave (i.e., additional paid vacation) Monday after
a backlash against the brutality. "Hindsight is 20-20 and based
on the situation we were sitting in, ultimately that was the decision
that was made."
police always say no matter the situation. But in this age of video,
we can see for ourselves that the officers were in no danger. Multiple
officers effortlessly moved in and around the protesters. The burly
officer who sprayed the kids strutted slowly in front of them in
a way that belies any sort of danger, real or perceived. He, too,
was put on administrative leave after the video went viral, along
with another officer. Without the video, you know what would have
happened nothing. The lies would have become the official record.
This is why police officers have become zealous in their confiscation
of video cameras and arrest of people who record them doing their
is par for the course for today's militarized police and campus
security departments. What's really disgusting is the natural instinct
of so many conservatives to stick up for the police. They don't
like the Occupy protesters, so they willingly back brutality against
them, without considering the possibility that conservatives at
some point might be on the receiving end of this aggression. Then
again, this common, vulgar form of modern conservatism almost always
sides with the state, even as it champions the empty words of limited
A blog called
Extreme Conservatives wrote the following, "Sorry libs
can quit your squawking and take your leftie-indoctrinated butts
back to class. The UC Davis pepper spray incident was standard police
procedure. On Friday a group of UC Davis students blocked the campus
walkway with arms linked and started chanting, 'From Davis to Greece,
F*ck the police!' Moments later the little darlings were doused
with pepper spray. This was only after several attempts by campus
police to get them to move. Of course, the liberal media only played
the part where the students were sprayed down. But after two days
of leftist outrage we find out that this was standard police procedure."
The idea that
this is "standard police procedure" is exactly what makes
the video so horrifying. It doesn't make it acceptable behavior.
That's why so many viewers were offended by it. The cop struts in
front of the students and sprays them with massive amounts of pepper
spray. He's not in any danger. This is just standard procedure,
ma'am. We treat everyone that way!
Rick Hahn from Accuracy in Media, the problem here was, of course,
the liberal media, which failed to provide proper context. Hahn,
who is identified as having worked for the FBI for 32 years, made
the usual law-enforcement case that the cops were really in danger:
"Many of the protesters were seated with arms interlocked.
This means police would have had to physically engage them. The
fact that the protesters were seated leaves police trying to disengage
them from one another at a balance disadvantage. The cops have to
bend over or crouch down to try to physically disengage any one
individual, bring him or her to their feet and affect the arrest.
The fact that the protesters had interlocked their arms was surely
an effort to avoid any one individual being removed for arrest.
There's no way of knowing how strongly the protesters would have
fought disengagement, but the fact is, they were inducing, baiting
if you will, physical confrontation from the police."
writing in Conservative Outpost, joined a growing chorus of conservatives
who seemed to want the police to behave even more brutally toward
these "animals" and who have a rather authoritarian view
of the world: "When cops say move, you move even if you're
curled in a fetal position on the ground with flowers in your hair
listening to Cat Stevens and nursing orphaned kittens. The UC Davis
police could have acted a lot more brutally, including prodding
or beating protesters with batons. The occupiers should consider
themselves warned: Trust fund brat refuses to move, trust fund brat
gets spray tanned. Protesters in the UC Davis videos can be heard
chanting 'Shame on you!' at police after the incident. Actually,
shame on patsy mayors like Michael Bloomberg and Jean Quan for not
empowering police to clear out these animals ages ago."
into the modern conservative rabble, one ought to read FreeRepublic.
It's beyond irony. One commenter expressed disbelief at the sight
of police backing away rather than engaging the protesters: "Do
you get a chill up your spine like I do when you see the police
slowly back away as if they are backing down from an impending violent
standoff?" Others seemed eager to see violence: "A Billy-club
to the ribs would have been just as effective at removing the bums
and we would be hearing all this crying about pepper-spray!"
Granted, these are anonymous commenters, but they reflect widespread
with most of what the Occupy protesters are saying, quite obviously,
but when I see lines of riot-gear-clad officials standing in front
of these unbathed wretches, my heart goes out to the wretches. They
need a lesson in economics and politics. The policies they advocate
to the degree that many of them have any well-defined grievances
range from the silly to the disastrous. They are inconsistent,
foolish and hypocritical. Many of them are lazy freeloaders. Such
is life. They do create filth and chaos in public parks, but if
one cannot protest in a public park, there are not many places to
have a protest. It's in everyone's best interest for the authorities
to provide as much latitude as possible for protesters of any political
persuasion. We still do pretend to live in a free society, right?
bigger picture, this was a clear case of abusive and heavy handed
behavior by the campus police. The president of the university was
right to call for an investigation and the officer and the chief
need to be removed from their positions, not just given meaningless
and indefinite paid leave. And now it's time for Californians to
take a closer look at issues of police conduct and secrecy. In recent
years, Democrats and Republicans have made those issues off limits
thanks to their close association with the police unions.
Maybe the Occupiers
can become productive and lead a real movement for civil libertarian
reform. I know it won't happen, but who can live in California without
embracing a little wishful thinking?
Greenhut (send him mail)
is editor-in-chief of CalWatchdog.com,
author of Plunder!
How Public Employee Unions Are Raiding Treasuries, Controlling Our
Lives And Bankrupting The Nation!, and a columnist for The
Orange County Register.
© 2011 Steven Greenhut