Wednesday, November 23, 2011

John, John, John...What Have You Done?

From Lt. John Pike, U.C. Davis Police...

Photo by Louise Macabitas by way of Reddit, which is not good if you've been bad.

To "Pepper-Spray Cop" cultural meme in about 72 hours...

From the pointed send-up of the new meme at Wired's Underwire


I'm pretty sure Lt. John Pike didn't get out of bed Friday 18 November 2011 intending to become the poster boy for the use of excessive force against passive resistance and civil disobedience.  But by the time his Defense Technology MK-9 Pepper Spray was empty he had secured his place in history.

Regardless what you think of the Occupy Wall Street movement (or whether it will ever get its act together and come to mean anything) this was not an escalation of force scenario, this was civil disobedience and passive resistance. If peaceful protesters must be removed you bring in enough officers to pick up each one and remove him or her to the paddy wagon. If anyone actively resists then the officers making the arrest apply sufficient force to proceed. At least that's the way it's suppose to go ever since the Birmingham cops quit using German Shepherds and fire hoses on civil rights protesters and the Ohio National Guard quit using live ammo on Vietnam war protesters.  Anything less than TLC is a win for the protesters and they know it. It's important that those with responsibility for public order understand it too. In this case, regardless whether or not the force applied was strictly legal or within department guidelines, the techniques applied and video collected played precisely into the hands of the protesters. The incident represents a massive fail on behalf of those in authority.

O.C. sprays - like Tasers - have undoubtedly saved many criminals from serious injury or death due to the baton blows, choke holds, or gunshot wounds used to subdue suspects in the days before these non-lethal force alternatives were developed.  Likewise, their use reduces injuries to law enforcement officers and is safer for the public.  But non-lethal does not mean harmless, and force is still force.  And this force is being applied on our behalf.  We had better be sure what objectives we wish to achieve.  The Occupy movement couldn't have stage managed a better PR coup had they tried; was that the objective? 


  1. I'm also sure Lt. John Pike did not get out of bed thinking 'gosh, I've already
    cost U.C. Davis $240,000 as a result of my bigotry, let's see if I can perform some
    thoughtless action and boost that into the millions of dollars today'. Certainly civil
    suits are being drafted.

    It is unfortunate that current laws, government and departmental polices protect people sworn to protect the public who abuse their authority. Here is Denver
    there is much outrage of highly publicized incidents of police abuse that is
    being dealt with appropriately in my opinion. Naturally, the response from
    the police union is that any such measures will cause police officers to be afraid
    to do their jobs. If they perform their jobs in an illegal manner, naturally they
    would and should be afraid. They should not be afraid of performing their job
    in a thoughtful, morally correct and legal manner. Although, as stated above,
    performance of duties using strictly legal guidelines can and do lead to abuse
    because the line is often very fuzzy, especially with the current police
    self investigation and self-discipline systems in most communities.

    On another note, the comment by Fox talking head, Megyn Kelly, that pepper
    spray is "just a food product essentially" has caused a backlash. I'm sure that
    this particular food product is not on her Thanksgiving table. To dismiss it as
    such is likely based more on callousness than naivety. She should step up and try
    a dose before making further comments. Erich "Mancow" Muller stepped up to the
    plate with waterboarding. Yes, there were accusations of this being a hoax; accusations which were denied. Still, the result was a right-wing talk show host who defended waterboarding changed his tune and declared it torture. So what
    "news" person is going to step up to the plate and take a face full of pepper spray and declare it "just a food product"?

    To say the Bill O'Reilly/Megyn Kelly segment is remarkable is obvious. Kelly tries
    to come across as an expert on police tactics. O'Reilly and Kelly then show dismay
    that members of the police were place on administrative leave due to "just following
    orders" of the chancellor. Well the chancellor did NOT order them to use
    pepper spray in such a manner. And no, I'm not going to invoke Godwin's Law
    here regarding "just following orders". :)

  2. The first rule of wielding power is to never give it away. John broke the first rule. It will be interesting to see how much power he is allowed to keep.

  3. According to this article I see nothing wrong with what the officer did, in fact, the people are lucky they weren't shot!

    Again, only if this incident is referring to the same incident in the article below, and the facts in the article below are true.

    If people surround officers and create a human barrier / aka -preventing them from taking non-complying citizens (law breakers) into custody, that is an escalation of force.