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Not Going to Join the Condemnation of UC Police

Lots of controversy over the use of pepper spray on protesters, including controversy that led to the UC Davis Police Officers, seen in this incident here, being suspended for what looks to be fairly standard police use of spray:

I’m not going to jump on this particular condemnation bandwagon. If you have a bunch of people blocking access to a public resource, or occupying private property, who refuse to move, the use of force by the police to get them to move is both legally and morally justified. In that situation you have two choices, you can either remove them by forcibly removing them through physical force, which is statistically much more likely to cause lasting injuries, or to use pain compliance.

Pepper spray is highly irritating, but once decontaminated, there are not really lasting effects. It is a compliance tool. If you had a bunch of people blocking access to your house, would you not use force to remove them? In this case the protesters knew what was going to happen if they didn’t move, and volunteered to pay the price.

53 Responses to “Not Going to Join the Condemnation of UC Police”

  1. Weer'd Beard says:

    Yep, I especially applaud the police for the slow methodical escalation of force. They talked to the kids, then displayed the cans of OC, THEN sprayed. Everybody knew what they were in for.

    Also in the current world we live in we still have a functional court system. If an officer is asking you to do something that he is not allowed to do, document the event, collect the officer’s badge number and name, and COMPLY, then bring him up on charges.

    Not only does this get you home without OC in your eyes, but if you’re correct the court fines will encourage the police to educate ALL their officers.

    In this case they were blocking the way and non-compliant. The Officers were exemplary and I’m disgusted at everybody condemning them for such civil actions in a time when cops can be anything but.

    • Heather from AK says:

      Not disagreeing on the overall issue here, just a specific point you bring up: how often does documenting police mis-behavior result in charges, much less anything other than a slap on the wrist for the cop? I’m not convinced that we still have a functional court system where the police are involved.

      • Harold says:

        Indeed, “charges” implies criminal prosecution, i.e. getting the cooperation of a prosecutor who’s other cases depend on those very same police; we know how much it takes for that to happen.

        Even in the cases where citizens have a private right of action to bring a civil suit, if they win how often do the defendants personally pay for their transgressions?

        A whole lot of the country’s problems are that our feedback systems have broken, or in the example of our modern police—what our Founders called select militias, which they hated—there never was much of any to begin with since it’s by and large impossible.

  2. Dannytheman says:

    You and I don’t agree! This was on a college campus, not your front yard. They were students, so in effect, it was their front yard as long as they are paying to attend.

    Walk around them. Simple! I am still waiting to hear who gave the order to spray them

    I’m ok with agreeing to disagree!!

    • Andy says:

      No, it is not their front yard. It is a public space. Just because they are students paying tuition doesn’t mean it is their property. If that were true, I could claim that since I am a tax payer I should have the right to protest in the ladies room of any public park or building, I should be allowed to protest in court rooms and civil service offices, inside the Pentagon, etc…

    • ExurbanKevin says:

      It’s not their front yard, it’s the front yard of every single Californian who pays state taxes.

      The job of the cops is to insure equal access to said front yard for everyone. This is called “public property”, and the instant they Occupoopers took it over, they tried to make everybody’s else property their own.

      Which, when you think of it, is the underlying intent of their movement.

      • Dannytheman says:

        It was overblown by the cops, the teachers and chancellor agree that to spray people who are peacefully protesting and causing nothing but a minor inconvenience is wrong in my opinion.

        If, God forbid, we ever have to go up against this government for real, I don’t want my rights to be squashed by any campus police. There was a better way to handle this, ignore them!!

        Walk away!!!

        • mike says:

          So you think the police should not enforce the law? Interesting.

          If the police had just ignored them, do you think they would have become MORE bold in their lawbreaking, or LESS bold in their lawbreaking.

          Regardless of whatever sympathies you may have for the protesters, the police need to uphold the rule of law, for everyone’s benefit. How many businesses do you think want to open up shop in a town where the police openly let criminals run free? How many families want to move there? As much as the knee-jerk feel-good reaction is to just let these misguided people do their thing, if they are allowed to go unchecked, society suffers when people think the police won’t enforce laws anymore.

          • mobo says:

            These people behave as they do *because* of the reaction they draw from police (and the cameras pointed at the police, of course). If they don’t receive the attention they crave, most of them will go home fairly quickly.

    • mike says:

      Yes, it was on a college campus, and it was the campus police who wanted them to stop blocking pedestrian traffic. And even if they’re all students, that doesn’t give them the right to infringe on the rights of other students or staff who want to talk down the sidewalk unimpeded. Nobody has a right to restrict the rights of others because they’re angry about having to pay more for their own education.

      Can you imagine how much worse things would be if every time protesters refused to stop blocking traffic, police said “Ok, we’ll just go away then and you feel free to leave whenever it’s convenient for you.”

      That scenario would be a breakdown in the rule of law, and would lead to chaos. The protesters had locked arms together and made it clear they wouldn’t leave nicely. It was either pepper spray or batons, and I think the police chose correctly.

  3. Thirdpower says:

    Exactly. They police didn’t wade into the protesters w/ batons and clubs. Nobody got beaten or shot. They were pepper sprayed. That’s it.

    I have no sympathy for them at all. But the cops will be vilified no matter what comes out.

  4. FatWhiteMan says:

    I don’t understand what everyone is all upset about. The occupiers want a government solution then everyone gets upset when they get one. You would think they would be happy.

  5. Charlie Given says:

    Enough coddling of these “Occupy Idiots”. If they had been tea partiers they would have been broken up by force long ago. It’s time for them to quit demanding freebies and start working towards the goals that they just want provided to them.

  6. Dan says:

    You are right. During the civil rights movement people did sit ins on private property. They should have been pepper sprayed and forced to move too.

  7. ParatrooperJJ says:

    I am not quite sure what people expected. The Chancellor ordered the police to remove the protesters. The police issued several polite lawful orderes for the protesters to leave. The protestors chose to break the law and stay.

  8. BobG says:

    Hell, they should have just passed out some cattle prods to the police and started goosing people. They would have moved out fast enough.

  9. mobo says:

    I don’t buy the argument that “pain compliance” is a safer substitute for just grabbing them and slapping cuffs on them. Would it really be that difficult to pull them apart without causing injury? Can anyone seriously say with a straight face that this crowd posed any sort of danger to the police?

    Let’s just hope that our leftist protesters don’t suddenly sprout testacles like they have over in Europe. They might figure out one day that they can purchase the same pepper spray the police use and that a gas mask can be had for cheap.

    • Harold says:

      If any of them were to resist, from what I’ve read from various law enforcement officers I respect (e.g. the types from rural areas where they don’t have to make quotas of arrests) “pain compliance” of this sort is just fine (ignoring issues like asthma). Any time two or more individuals get into physical combat a lot of bad, permanent injury outcomes are entirely possible (and if this happens enough, statistically inevitable). Even if they’re not actively resisting, people aren’t that lightweight, there are many possibilities of damage to e.g. joints, especially to the protesters.

      If this pepper spraying was part of a proper continuum/escalation of force before the final alternative of “grabbing them and slapping cuffs on them” I therefore gather it was proper.

    • Steve says:

      Yes, pepper spray is safer than putting hands-on (I am saying this with a straight face). It also has the advantage of blinding the non-compliant person if you then need to put hands-on.

      It is not a question of posing a danger to police, it is a question of non-compliance to a legal police order to disperse.

      If protesters up the ante by attempting to use pepper spray on police, then most “use of force” standards would allow the police to upgrade to firearms. Police are never required to meet force with equal force. They are authorized to go one step above the amount of force they confront.

  10. Pat says:

    Here here!
    I didn’t jump on the condemnation bandwagon either. The protesters deliberately surrounded the police (their own words, look it up), and tried to force the officers to step over their lines.
    Perfectly reasonable response to people who’ve been warned numerous times to disperse.

  11. Stmarks says:

    They also took over a whole damn administrator building and wont leave. Outside was just part of it. The cops should had tased every single one. This is not protest, it’s mob and robbery of others property and a damn building.

    Ps I attended UC Davis, the cops there were super super mellow. These idiots got far less what they deserved. They should be prosecuted for taking over a whole damn building.

  12. A Critic says:

    Pain compliance = torture.

    Sometimes a show of force is a show of weakness. The cops are so weak they can’t handle a few non-violent college kids without Tabascoing their dull little heads? Weak. If it wasn’t for their firearms and ability to literally get away with murder I would always laugh in the face of cops. The protesters are shining specimens of the modern weak American…but the cops are even weaker.

    • Weer'd Beard says:

      Did you READ any of the above comments? Break up enough people by physical force you’ll get a few lasting injuries and on a long enough timeline some permanent injuries.

      The injured people will sue for medical costs, pain and suffering, and probably throw in an excessive force case to boot…and that’s not even taking into account the few smartasses who will take a swing at the cops once they make contact.

      Meanwhile you hose them with OC, they’ll hurt like a sonofabitch have diminished viability and respiration if the cops need to slap cuffs on them, and it’ll take the fight out of most of them so there will be less fists thrown by the non-compliant.

      And the ones that smarten up once their eyes start to burn and simply walk away will feel fine in a few hours, and will have learned a valuable life lesson.

      Seeing this as “Torture” flags you as pretty weak in the reason department. You should feel more than a little ashamed…

      • mike says:

        Don’t feed the troll.

      • A Critic says:

        “Did you READ any of the above comments? Break up enough people by physical force you’ll get a few lasting injuries and on a long enough timeline some permanent injuries.”

        That’s an unavoidable consequence. Torture is an avoidable consequence. There is no reason to inflict pain on a non-violent person.

        “Meanwhile you hose them with OC, they’ll hurt like a sonofabitch have diminished viability and respiration if the cops need to slap cuffs on them, and it’ll take the fight out of most of them so there will be less fists thrown by the non-compliant.”

        These people weren’t throwing fists.

        “And the ones that smarten up once their eyes start to burn and simply walk away will feel fine in a few hours, and will have learned a valuable life lesson.”

        Valuable life lesson? That protesting for no good cause is a great way to get tortured by the cops? That’s a valuable life lesson?

        “Seeing this as “Torture” flags you as pretty weak in the reason department. You should feel more than a little ashamed…”

        Um, you are the one who just argued that imposing pain on a non-violent person isn’t torture by the police…and you are accusing me of poor reasoning?

        I have no sympathy for these people…but it should never be acceptable to hurt people merely for the sake of hurting them.

  13. Ed says:

    Let us all read the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution together.

    “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.”

    So lets review the UC Davis incident.

    1) State College Campus (Government/Public Space)
    2) State College Police (Government Employees)
    3) Students Peacably Assembled (Yes)
    4) Students Petitioning their Government for a Redress of Grievances. (Yes)
    5) Students were not imepeding foot traffic, other students and even the police could freely walk past them, as the officer did before he pepper sprayed them. (Yes)
    6) Police were not surrounded by the students sitting, but they were pepper sprayed. (Yes)
    7) Students surrounding the police, inclduing those filmng, were not pepper sprayed (Yes)

    So Sebastian help me understand why you do not advocate for the 1st Amendment, as you do for the 2nd Amendment?

    The Bill of Rights is not a menu, you can not pick and choose.

    • mike says:

      5) Students were not imepeding foot traffic, other students and even the police could freely walk past them, as the officer did before he pepper sprayed them. (Yes)

      Impede: Delay or prevent (someone or something) by obstructing them; hinder.

      You’re saying that blocking the sidewalk doesn’t meet that definition? We can argue about the degree to which they were impeding foot traffic, but let’s not pretend they weren’t doing it.

    • Stmarks says:

      Ed:

      You misses the part that they tried to take over the Quad and also,

      They took over a damn building by force. That’s not peaceful assembly.

      This not 1a.

      Unless of course you have no issue someone taking over your home.

    • Sebastian says:

      I don’t see it as a First Amendment issue. My understanding is they were monopolizing a public space, and occupying and denying access to a building, we’re told to disperse, and refused.

      Your First Amendment rights don’t go as far as interfering with someone’s property rights, not even others access and use of public property. Lots of people have managed to do successful campus protesting without going as far as the occupiers.

  14. DirtCrashr says:

    As a taxpaying Californian who is forced to support this pile-of-crap institution and it’s spoon-fed idiot-rabble, and one who graduated from an identical CA institution only a few-many miles distant with a similarly useless POS degree and student loans – and one who was fully aware that it was INDEED was a useless POS degree and the loans would take a while to pay-off at DISHWASHER wages, I’M F*ING FED THE F*UP WITH THIS BABY-SUDENT SH*T.
    It’s institutional ROT and academic turpitude, it’s baked into the whole shit-cake of wasted Academe and Education, and they should hose-down both the Professoriat AND the Studentia with a fire-hose of pepper spray.
    It would be a nice start for our taxpayer’s money, to see where the money actually goes (on)to these assholes.

  15. MikeSilver says:

    Spray is the next level in the force continuum above verbal and “soft hands”. It is totally appropriate to spray someone who disobeys a lawful order by law enforcement. Disputes about lawfulness of an order are done in court not by the mob.

    That said, I don’t see the reason the police even moved against the mob. As soon as the path was cleared, the police retreated. What was the point.

    Here in Atlanta, the police ’emptied’ the park and then closed it. The Occupy ATL group couldn’t get back in. When the park reopened, the cleared it nightly.

  16. SayUncle says:

    The police can’t exactly show up and say ‘leave the area. No? Well, alright then’

  17. JR says:

    This edit doesn’t show the line being broken to allow people to pass, that I read about. So as we’ve seen time and time again, protests are merely theatre. The protesters get their photo ops, the police get their photo ops, the protesters get brutalized, zero goals are achieved (except martyrdom), and no civil suits are filed. Status quo bullshit.

    • Harold says:

      Except the status quo is not “bullshit” in that it does not allow mobs to control the streets.

      I would hope people would notice that a movement which has the active verb “occupy” is stating that intends to use extra-legal means to try to achieve its ends.

      • JR says:

        If reports are true, moving when people legitimately need to get through and non-compliance with illegitimate and unconstitutional orders to disperse a peaceful protest by militarized riot police does not equal “mobs [in] control [of] the streets”.

        Unless you believe police get to say and do whatever they want to violate civil rights of non-violent protesters, then that makes THEM the mob in control of the streets. Absolute, unquestionable, tyranny.

        • ecurb says:

          ^This. I was going to post my own comment, but enough has been said already.
          It’s disgusting to me that the same people who loathe the militarization of police in this country are perfectly happy when it’s their opponents being attacked.
          This WILL be us in twenty years. How will we feel about it then?

  18. Matthew Carberry says:

    20/20 hindsight, the counter-protest “theatre of ridiculousness” would have been to get a group of people with nothing better to do, form a long line on the path and walk through their “blockade” from the front then curve to form an oval to do it continuously from both directions. Heck, carry signs ostensibly in support of OWS like it’s a picket line and you just got a different memo.

    Folks trying to get through could just jump in the revolving turnstyle from either side.

    Make the next move the sitting protestors, if they physically try to intervene once the line is going they will be in the factual and legal wrong (there’s nothing illegal with walking on a sidewalk, particularly when exercising 1A rights while not blocking anyone’s travel) and potentially up for assault charges if they cause a stumble.

  19. DirtCrashr says:

    They want to cause a violent confrontation and they need to in order to have their Kristallnacht. In not very distant Oakland the black hooded-and-suited troops exercised the violence, inciting others and breaking windows and lighting fires – and then hid within the crowd – there is an out-of-town element at ALL these events, and they are orchestrated events, not just passive “sit-ins.”

  20. MicroBalrog says:

    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Latest-News-Wires/2011/1123/Pepper-spray-explanation-doesn-t-wash-with-UC-Davis-students

    Clearly UC management which gives orders to these officers was not OK with this behavior either.

    • Harold says:

      Or they’re ivory tower types who have an insufficient idea of what their orders translate into on the ground. What the chancellor is saying now is either dishonest or incoherent (e.g. remove the tents but use no force???) or both.

      Or they’re upset that the implicit standing order of “Don’t embarrass us!” wasn’t followed.

      Or that it can’t be followed nowadays in this era of ubiquitous digital video (see first suggested alternative).

      Above I commented on a lack of feedback in the system; related, elsewhere I’ve commented that the frequent police loathing of civilian video is due to the fact that for too many of them a citizen with a video camera is one of the greatest threats they face. Beside the physical ones they hopefully have some control over, it’s the only thing that can cost them their jobs or worse. So it’s no wonder they view it as a serious threat.

      Add to that the out of context problem, going back to Rodney King where the earlier parts of the clip where he was violently resisting were somehow seldom or never shown by the media….

  21. Andy B. says:

    Gosh, it seems like only yesterday gun owners were castigating “Jack Booted Thugs.” I guess thuggery is a function of the ideology inside the heads the thugs are gassing? Dang, it’s hard to keep up with the changing times!

    • Sebastian says:

      Eventually laws are backed up with force, so accepting there will be laws means force is going to be used to enforce those laws. It could be argued that perhaps the Regents of the University of California shouldn’t be able to act as property owners, and remove people obstructing access to buildings and public parts of campus the rest of the students, and taxpayers are paying for, but I don’t really find that convincing.

  22. Andy B. says:

    “Eventually laws are backed up with force, so accepting there will be laws means force is going to be used to enforce those laws.”

    My apologies. I forgot how I had learned that on May 4, 1970.

    • mike says:

      My apologies. I forgot how I had learned that on May 4, 1970.

      Bad example:
      http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/may/04/new-light-shed-on-kent-state-killings/

      See also: (don’t forget to play the audio)
      http://www.cleveland.com/science/index.ssf/2010/10/analysis_of_kent_state_audio_t.html

      • Harold says:

        From the Washington Times item: “[…] many questions remain unanswered — including why the [FBI] documents quoted here were overlooked, or discounted, in the Justice Department’s official findings.”

        Well, we know the answer to that: they didn’t fit the narrative, which had become entirely anti-war after a Republican became President in 1969. Just like any well informed citizen of the time (including myself, even though I was just out of short pants) knew that the arson of the ROTC building was a critical part of the timeline but one seldom mentioned by the MSM.

        Prior to the rise of MSM alternatives (which have by and large left our adversaries sputtering nonsense) omission of inconvenient facts seemed to be the #1 method used for shaping public opinion.

        To bring this back to this blog’s official topic, the nationwide sweep of shall issue concealed carry has now informed a large number of people of the truth about handguns and their owners, something that our adversaries are going to find impossible to change for the foreseeable future.

  23. dustydog says:

    Stupid tactic, designed without imagination. Police should not engage in behavior that a reasonable person would consider bullying. Assertion of authority for the sake of authority is evil.

    The bill of rights is not a complete list of rights; unenumerated rights do actually include the right to inconvenience the government without suffering violence. What unenumerated rights do you believe in, if you don’t believe in that one?

    What those kids were doing warrants civil penalties, but not physical force. Did the school threaten to expel anybody? If not, then the school didn’t really care enough about the sit in to warrant use of force. Anyone sprayed but not arrested had their civil rights violated – the city didn’t really care about their sit in (not enough to arrest them).

    What do police do when they are afraid? Throw up a barricade and a nnoy them with loud music. If the police put up a chainlink fence with no exit, and blared rock music ala Waco, those kids wouldn’t have lasted days (if only from lack of food).

    • mike says:

      unenumerated rights do actually include the right to inconvenience the government without suffering violence.

      Do you believe that unenumerated rights include the right to inconvenience private citizens? Because that’s what they’re doing by occupying public property and blocking traffic. My belief is that other peoples’ rights end where mine begin, and that nobody has a right to inconvenience me.

  24. dustydog says:

    “What the chancellor is saying now is either dishonest or incoherent (e.g. remove the tents but use no force???) or both.
    Or they’re upset that the implicit standing order of Don’t embarrass us! wasn’t followed.”

    Police should accept the responsibility and duty that goes with the gun, badge, cuffs, and spray. The willingness to spray somebody with a chemical based on nothing more than a vague preference expressed by a bureaucrat is depraved indifference. The situation is analogous to a domestic disturbance. Drama and culpability on both sides. A cop who says, “screw it, let’s just arrest the husband” should lose his job. That is essentially what happened here.

    The removal was color of law. California has ruled that a person can claim any public space as a residence. A homeless person can use a park bench as a residence, and have a reasonable expectation that the cops will get a warrant before searching the bag under the bench. A homeless person can register to vote by listing a public park as a residence. The Occupy Protestors have a prima facie case that wherever they were protesting was their home. Allowing cops to force people out of their ‘homes’ is serious enough to require warrants.

    • mike says:

      The Occupy Protestors have a prima facie case that wherever they were protesting was their home. Allowing cops to force people out of their ‘homes’ is serious enough to require warrants.

      C’mon, that’s just desperate. It’s like you’re not even trying.

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