Are all California police just nuts?

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 21, 2011 in Randomness | Subscribe

I surfaced briefly from under the pile of end-of-semester homework to catch up on the news, and just now stumbled upon this whole UC Davis pepper spraying incident via a friend posting this YouTube video on Facebook:

Now I’m no fan of the Occupy movement and Occupiers’ tendency to willfully violate the private property rights of others to try and make a point.1 Even so, this is downright insane :crack:

The university’s claim that the pepper spraying was prompted by a “hostile” situation is thoroughly debunked by the video. There’s nothing here but a bunch of wannabe hippies sitting there linking arms thinking it’ll make a difference in tuition increases.2

They weren’t preventing the ingress or egress of vehicular traffic, presenting a safety hazard, or causing any other public disturbance to a level that demanded the use of force. Totally, shamelessly, incontrovertibly outrageous — what seems to be a recurring theme among California law enforcement agencies.

Remind me not to visit California again any time soon…

  1. I’ll concede I wholeheartedly agree with the Occupy folks with respect to crony capitalism bearing some responsibility for the economic mess we’re in — but they don’t seem to grasp that the reason crony capitalism persists is because it’s incredibly lucrative when the federal government has its tentacles in every cookie jar available. A regulation costing you or I a nickel apiece might cost a given industry millions of dollars, which prompts companies to buy legions of lobbyists to push for special favors from the government. That’s why things turn into a mess. End crony capitalism, but also end the government overreach that promotes crony capitalism. []
  2. Though I suspect most of them aren’t registered to vote, and I doubt they’ve tried any of the tactics we successfully deployed in UNCASG. []

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Nov 27, 2011 at 10:04 PM

I can neither condone nor condemn; I wasn’t there. But I can say that videos are rather one dimensional views to what is transpiring sometimes, depending on angle, duration, and how much information we are allowed to see to support the point or perspective that we are supposed to conclude. Now in the matter at hand, were the students obstructing the sidewalk? I think that’s obvious they were. Were they instructed to make the way clear for others? At the 90 second mark of the posted video, they were instructed to move and one officer tried to remove one of the participants, without success. So did they have a chance to comply prior to being sprayed? Yes. Is the place they were located a protected place under the traditional public forums doctrine? That may be the issue to ultimately be resolved. However, arms interlocked, they refused to move from a walkway utilized by others. If you noticed, no one on the periphery was instructed to move or was otherwise interfered with by law enforcement. Given the numbers of people present, the potential for escalation and all out riot was quite high and certainly should have been a consideration contemplating the use of force such as this. In light of that, I don’t think it unreasonable to conclude that the least amount of force necessary to effect the arrest was used. The flip side of this is, assuming that they were in an unlawful assembly, would have been for them to comply with the orders they were given. That didn’t happen and we have seen the result. If they were in fact in a lawful assembly, then the police acted improperly, violated their rights, and grossly irritated their mucous membranes to boot. However, this is being tried in the court of public opinion and as usual, there is a sentence of guilty and perscribed punishment before the charge has been read.

Either way, I think they accomplished what they intended.

Nov 28, 2011 at 2:24 PM

Valid points, but I still don’t know man — I’m usually a pretty law-and-order guy, but this is one of those instances where I’d have just let them alone.

Even if we assume arguendo that they were blocking a sidewalk, clearly the grass is a suitable bypass since there was a crowd hanging around on it. The Occupiers had a legal duty to comply with the school’s order to disperse, and after failing to do so I’d certainly understand them being arrested (and challenging the arrest on First Amendment grounds after the fact). Was getting doused with pepper spray a necessary prerequisite to those arrests happening though?

Point taken re trials in the court of public opinion, but with so many cameras taking so many videos I’d argue this is one of those instances where that’ll be the most accurate trial we’re going to get on this issue ;)

Nov 28, 2011 at 4:57 PM

The footage I haven’t seen yet, and if you caught glimpse of them would probably provide an accurate point of view, is the semi-pro looking camera guys who were squatting down amongst the line of the ne-er do well sidewalk blockers. I agree, the proper challenge would have been to resist the order to disperse, un-interlock your arms and be arrested and then challenge the action in the proper venue to answer such questions. As it was, it got pushed to the point of no return. Once those words, “You’re under arrest” get uttered, there are two basic choices. Comply or resist. There are two kinds of resistance, passive and overt. Overt resistance to that action doesn’t bring a pleasant conclusion, and they weren’t being passive by struggling a little or twisting away as they were being taken into custody. We’ll never know this until well after the fact, if at all, but I’ve got a feeling someone higher up on the food chain called the Campus Police and said, “get them off the sidewalk.” Forgetting that one truism of all time, ‘be careful what you ask for, you might just get it.’ There is certainly a time and place for everything and it seems this was the inevitable train wreck looking for a place to happen.

Yes I know your pro stance and we’ve discussed that at length in other venues. I stand on that same side but I know too that things can go too far and when they do, sanction needs to be applied to stop and dissuade it.


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