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The Future of Protest In Panopticon Nation 566

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-the-world-is-a-stage dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "James Fallows writes that you don't have to idealize everything about the Occupy movement to recognize the stoic resolve of the protesters at UC Davis being pepper sprayed as a moral drama that the protesters clearly won. 'The self-control they show, while being assaulted, reminds me of grainy TV footage I saw as a kid, of black civil rights protesters being fire-hosed by Bull Connor's policemen in Alabama. Or of course the Tank Man in Tiananmen Square,' writes Fallows. 'Such images can have tremendous, lasting power.' We can't yet imagine all the effects of the panopticon society we are beginning to live in but one benefit to the modern protest movement is the omnipresence of cameras (video) as police officials, protesters, and nearly all onlookers are recording whatever goes on bringing greater accountability and a reality-test for police claims that they 'had' to use excessive force. 'What's new is that now the perception war occurs simultaneously with the physical struggle. There's almost parity,' writes Andrew Sprung. 'You have a truncheon or gun, I have a camera. You inflict pain, I inflict infamy.'"
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The Future of Protest In Panopticon Nation

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @04:49PM (#38141452)

    First Post

    "There's almost parity,' writes Andrew Sprung. 'You have a truncheon or gun, I have a camera. You inflict pain, I inflict infamy.'""

    haha come on, parity?

    Has this guy ever been pepper sprayed or beaten up before?

    People shouldnt have to endure this to receive justice

    Its a sad day our society thinks this is some kind of achievement or "balance" of power

  • by infolation (840436) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @04:51PM (#38141480)
    With the proliferation of video and photographic 'evidence', people seem much more ready to believe an event didn't happen nowadays if there isn't visual 'smoking gun' evidence to prove it.
  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @04:52PM (#38141492)

    Look for more incidents involving agents provocateurs in future protests. It's easier to "justify" whatever actions are taken if they can show footage of a "protester" acting in an "unreasonable" fashion.

    The public footage is having a huge impact right now because people are seeing people like themselves at the protests and NOT causing problems ... and hearing the official reports contradicting the footage.

  • by jpapon (1877296) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @05:00PM (#38141598) Journal

    because the cop used weak sauce pepper spray and casually doused them

    Cops shouldn't be "casually dousing" any group of students assembled in a park, no matter how "weak sauce" the pepper spray is. Perhaps the resulting video was a little melodramatic, but the fact that you think it is okay for police to pepper spray citizens in a park shows you for the fascist that you really are. I hope you enjoy your anonymity, you pig.

  • by Riceballsan (816702) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @05:02PM (#38141630)
    True, but accidental in a horrendous way. "We only intended to hurt him by bashing his head into the pavement with the club, we had no intention of killing him". I agree the death toll will be negligible if it even exists, but at least a few people have taken some serious beatings that could cause permanent damage
  • by causality (777677) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @05:03PM (#38141652)

    People shouldnt have to endure this to receive justice

    No, they shouldn't, but this is the way it has always been.

    You can read the autobiography of Mohandas Ghandi (a really wonderful book) and see the same patterns. You can read some Henry David Thoreau and understand why he would have preferred to remain in jail instead of having a well-meaning but less-principled individual pay his poll tax for him.

    As long as the masses, the majority of people, are largely passive and indifferent to the injustice around them there will always be a need for exceptional individuals to take this kind of abuse to effect any real change. What people like Thoreau and Ghandi realized was the error of violence, the way it makes it so easy for those who control perception and use propaganda to make the violent (however justified) into evil bogeymen who will always be demonized in the popular mind.

    I heard this one time and I never forgot it. It is a saying of Ghandi's: "the good that violence appears to do is temporary; the harm that it does is permanent." I suppose there are a lot of low-brow, smarmy types with nothing to contribute so for them maybe I should add "within the context of protest and trying to change society" so the fact that war sometimes is quite necessary is irrelevant. There was a time before it became necessary and that's when peaceful change was possible. I'm tired of that small-minded crowd, so I don't consider it a total waste to deny them the slam-dunk "victory" they so desperately crave.

    At any rate, doing it peacefully means you absolutely must maintain the high ground. If you want to expose the establishment for the bunch of power-hungry thugs they tend to be, you cannot use their tactics. It provides no contrast. The unwise, reactionary, direction-less types who tend to attach themselves to any major movement are the biggest problem the Occupiers currently have. Do you not notice how the media reports with glee the rapes, murders, etc. that occur on the Occupied territory? That's exactly what they want -- for you to be no better. If you want to be effective, don't give it to them.

  • From the summary:

    "'What's new is that now the perception war occurs simultaneously with the physical struggle. There's almost parity,' writes Andrew Sprung. 'You have a truncheon or gun, I have a camera. You inflict pain, I inflict infamy.'"

    No, what you inflict is spin - because all you have to is show a carefully focused video showing the police swinging their truncheons or spraying pepper spray, and those who believe video bites represent the entire truth will defend your interpretation, and forward it, and 'like' it, etc... You'll hang 'em in the court of public opinion, but that's much more important than reality.

  • by Nadaka (224565) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @05:06PM (#38141698)

    You have far to much faith in the system. As long as this massive inequity exists these protests will continue. As long as these protests continue those in power will become increasingly forceful in suppression of freedom.

    There really are Americans publicly saying that they should just roll over these protesters with tanks and shoot all the dirty hippies without any fear.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @05:10PM (#38141746)

    History always repeats itself. Swords and pens have become guns and cameras. The balance between them remains the same.

  • by 0123456 (636235) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @05:11PM (#38141768)

    YOU are also part of the 99%. those folks are fighting for YOU, you suburban twit.

    He is part of the 99%. The OWS hippies aren't, which is why they have to keep claiming that they are.

  • by Hentes (2461350) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @05:14PM (#38141814)

    Which is a good thing. The public being sceptical about what they hear unless shown proof is a huge step forward.

  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @05:15PM (#38141822)

    oh, you are so wrong!

    one very real thing that got accomplished: the world is seeing a new side of america.

    for the last 10+ yrs, america was the brunt of jokes and the poster child for anti-freedom in major world powers. we invaded, we killed, we were mercenaries for oil and big business. to be called 'an american' by someone overseas was getting to be an insult.

    things have now changed. or, are in change.

    overseas, I sense people are cheering us on. they see that its our LEADERS that are fucking us over. americans are not evil to the core (like many seem to want to believe and label us) but we, like so many other countries, have lost the war of control over our own government. but we are at least trying to get it back.

    the world is starting to give us a little tiny bit of credit for that. and they are showing support in their OWN occupy protests! that's proof, right there.

    we are [re]spreading freedom. from the bottom-up. and 'they' see that. it won't do a damned thing now; but we are planting seeds. the kids today who see this MAY think twice when its their turn to run things.

    I expect zero things to change in my lifetime. I'm old. but I'm somewhat hopeful about the future (for you guys) given this refreshing new spirit I'm seeing.

  • by causality (777677) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @05:16PM (#38141834)

    First Post

    "There's almost parity,' writes Andrew Sprung. 'You have a truncheon or gun, I have a camera. You inflict pain, I inflict infamy.'""

    haha come on, parity?

    Has this guy ever been pepper sprayed or beaten up before?

    People shouldnt have to endure this to receive justice

    Its a sad day our society thinks this is some kind of achievement or "balance" of power

    The balance of power has always been a slow, grinding play of justice against violent acts.

    You rob a convenience store, or ten, it profits you in the moment, but spending years behind bars is the price. If a cop beats a protester to death for no apparent reason and it is covered by several independent video cameras, he's a lot more likely to answer for his actions than if it was merely witnessed by 50 protesters who were also being beaten.

    Unfortunately the worst penalty the cop is likely to face is either a paid vacation known as "administrative leave" or maybe the loss of his job. This is a serious problem. A free society won't stay that way if the police have some kind of special status above the citizens they are supposed to be serving. Incidentally, a cop who beats someone basically has to also charge them with resisting arrest (or similar) or he's admitting he beat them for no reason, so there is both the assault and the criminal charge that may haunt the person for life.

    Even the idea that "assaulting a police officer" carries a higher penalty than assaulting a citizen might sound good but it's completely misguided. The cop is better able to respond to an assault, to have back-up, and carries an assortment of weaponry everywhere he goes. The average citizen is more likely to be unarmed and more likely to hesitate to use any available weapons for fear that a court will not consider it self-defense (we like victimhood and we like to encourage bullies so in many states you are expected to try fleeing first, nevermind this only emboldens the criminals). Even if there were not such an inequality, the cop is our servant, one particularly able to abuse his authority, and granting him equality alone is generous.

    You simply can't have "special" or "protected" groups and expect to remain an egalitarian society that cherishes freedoms. It has never happened before and it won't happen again.

  • like when veterans are hit in the head with a tear gas cannister on video by a polieman firing at them while they are already on the ground receiving medical attention? Yeah, total accident.

    Fuck you, and take your bullshit out the door with you.

  • by Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @05:17PM (#38141854)
    The problem is that very clearly neither the Republican party nor the Democratic party will face these issues. They're both part of the same partisan shell-game that instills apathy and just gets more and more corrupt. Voting for either party is just a distraction, instead what is happening right now is an absolute no-confidence in government, and we need to ditch BOTH of the existing parties. Down with the two party system.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @05:18PM (#38141868)

    [citation needed]

    Last I heard nobody is rolling tanks over protestors in Sweden or Denmark, to name two mixed capitalist-socialist countries of the sort most OWS protestors tend to favor as a model for a more equitable society. Stop believing the crap you're hearing in your echo chamber. The rank-and-file OWS protestor is no more a Mao-loving communist than the rank-and-file tea party protestor is a redneck racist.

  • by Professr3 (670356) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @05:21PM (#38141908)
    If you consider pepper spray to be "weaksauce", there are a few people who were still coughing up blood 45 minutes afterward who'd like to have a word with you. There are a few marines who might want to tell you about their war veteran friend who was shot in the head and almost killed, while the police tossed concussion grenades at the people trying to get him to medical care. The fact that the methods used "aren't as bad as X" doesn't make them any less heinous.
  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @05:21PM (#38141916)

    Exactly.

    The general populace understands that the State is the only entity that has a legitimate right to project force. Whether via the military (hopefully outside the country) or the police (inside the country). I include the CIA / FBI / etc in those categories.

    Anyone else using force (particularly outside their social group) is IMMEDIATELY identified as a criminal. A threat to society.

    There may be problems in society. And the majority of the population may even AGREE with you about those problems. But they do NOT want to have to deal with non-State violence. They see enough of that (and its effects) from criminals.

  • by causality (777677) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @05:21PM (#38141918)

    Right because, sitting on the ground arms behind your back while the cop takes out his can of pepper spray, holding it up and walking with it, showing it to the entire crowd before spraying you in the face untill the can is empty, is totally provoking him.

    Those bastards and their damn sitting.

    I wish you'd take one minute to Google a term with which you are obviously unfamiliar (agent provocateur) prior to responding to a post based around it. It would be better for everyone. It would also make it easier for you to avoid responding with pure emotion during a factual discussion.

  • by Anonymous Psychopath (18031) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @05:28PM (#38141994) Homepage

    Sorry to ask you, but what exactly Ghandy achieved? I am not saying that he is not extraordinary man, but, did he actually change anything at all???

    Other than India's change from a British colony to a sovereign nation, you mean? Are you serious?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @05:28PM (#38141998)

    I love this post so very much. Thank you.

  • by Genda (560240) <(mariet) (at) (got.net)> on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @05:38PM (#38142106) Journal

    Even from "State Authority" we demand that violence be tempered and that force be fair and proportional to the threat. When a Bull Conner unleashes attack dogs on people quietly walking or a National Guardman shoots an unarmed girl with a high powered rifle standing in protest on a campus lawn or Police assault people up to and including deadly force for no apparent cause, we are rightly dumbstruck and appalled. Because they have the charge of using force, they must be all the more responsible for using it as the last possible way of managing a circumstance, and at that in strict measure according to the threat.

    Mayor Bloomberg had terrible force unleashed on the Occupy protestors. He knew this is his last term and he would have to return to Wallstreet after his term was over, so we can all clearly see whose interest he protected and protected savagely. This is exactly the kind of misuse of power, that makes good Americans want to take their government back from from death grip of the 1%. Sadly some are willing to use violence, and sad as that may be, it too is something that is sometimes justifiable.

  • Yes, accident (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Quila (201335) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @05:44PM (#38142172)

    No intent to kill.

    The Chinese shot them, drove over them with tanks. The Democrat KKK killed civil rights activists with impunity under the tacit approval of local governments, even having victims handed to them by the police (who were often KKK themselves anyway). Khadaffi used snipers and helicopter gunships to kill dozens of people in just one protest. The protesters in Syria know full well their protesting is very likely to be deadly, with thousands dead so far.

    An OWS protester has no real fear for his life in comparison to them.

  • Re:Ooooo, Infamy. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RobinEggs (1453925) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @05:46PM (#38142184)

    and I hope he has a problematic life for the rest of his life, too. I hope he can't get a job or gets made fun of by 'the other bullies in blue' until he dies.

    I do understand that pepper spraying someone without cause is a violent crime, an insanely painful assault with occasional adverse reactions and even rare deaths, but how can you possibly advocate such a punishment?

    Our theory of social wrong and our justice system are at least in theory based on reformation: people are punished in hope that they 'go forth and sin no more', to use the biblical phrasing. People are fired for gross misconduct at work and left to seek another job, not ostracized for life. Criminals are prosecuted, punished and then released under appropriate restrictions, not destroyed and left to suffer. If Lt. Pike is both a criminal and a bad employee why is it not sufficient to see him fired, bared from law enforcement, and prosecuted? Why do you want his life to be over? And what kind of sick bastard are you that you'd consider letting him continue working in law enforcement simply so he could endure the mockery of his co-workers? Leave a man who committed a violent crime in a position of physical authority, and then make his life steadily worse? Where do you think that's going to end?

    You're asking us to ruin a man's life rather than give him a second chance, to torture him forever rather than rehabilitate and restrict him. Your options are that he endure constant abuse at work or be unable to work at all? Why not just shoot him?

    How is this vengeful destruction of this man's dignity and potential any better than than what he's done to the protesters? How can you call yourself American when you advocate vengeance and lifelong suffering in the name of justice?

    If 'his type is what is wrong with America' then what are you? Do you believe you're what's right with America?!

  • by itchythebear (2198688) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @05:51PM (#38142246)

    You make a very important point about how video bites don't always show exactly what happend, and can often appear to support the party who was actually in the wrong. However, this does not apply to this specific case.

    Many videos that show the event start well before the actual pepper spraying occurs and continue well afterwards. Additionally, the students who were sprayed were simply sitting down, not resisting arrest. The students should have just been arrested, pepper spraying was totally unneeded.

  • by Genda (560240) <(mariet) (at) (got.net)> on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @05:56PM (#38142304) Journal

    Sadly or perhaps frighteningly, there is a growing movement among police departments and the law establishment in general to criminalize filming police under any circumstance including the police committing criminal acts of violence. One of the great dangers we're now encountering is our government indulging in dark and immoral ventures and it can only participate in these ventures if its not being watched. The last administration used our fear and rage to twist our government into something truly unholy. The current administration hasn't seen fit to dismantle what was created and put things right. It is time for the American people to demand from all its leaders that our nation be returned to us the people, and that unfair influence through wealth and power and greedy self interest be mitigated,

    In a vital move towards that future, Government must become COMPLETELY TRANSPARENT... I no longer trust my government to act in my best interest (not that I ever did, but now I'm certain they are working against us), and unless I can see both hands all the time, I am deeply concerned that it labors busily, stealing my future and perhaps all our futures.

  • by 0123456 (636235) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @05:59PM (#38142336)

    Other than India's change from a British colony to a sovereign nation, you mean? Are you serious?

    India was going to become a sovereign nation regardless; the British couldn't afford it and the Indians wanted them gone. Gandhi's main 'success' was in bringing that forward a few years as a chaotic withdrawal where I believe around a million Indians died, instead of a peaceful handover of power.

  • by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @06:00PM (#38142350)

    You can read some Henry David Thoreau and understand why he would have preferred to remain in jail instead of having a well-meaning but less-principled individual pay his poll tax for him.

    Thoreau's essay (search for "Civil Disobedience" online) is excellent and should be required reading of every high school student in America.

    (Preferring to remain in jail is a little less impressive when it's only overnight, until Emerson comes to bail him out in the morning. Kinda like how his whole self-reliance theme is a little less powerful when he's squatting on land owned by Emerson. But still, considering the essay that came out of the overnight stay in jail, and its subsequent influence, it was pretty awesome.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @06:02PM (#38142376)

    Even from "State Authority" we demand that violence be tempered and that force be fair and proportional to the threat. When a Bull Conner unleashes attack dogs on people quietly walking or a National Guardman shoots an unarmed girl with a high powered rifle standing in protest on a campus lawn or Police assault people up to and including deadly force for no apparent cause, we are rightly dumbstruck and appalled. Because they have the charge of using force, they must be all the more responsible for using it as the last possible way of managing a circumstance, and at that in strict measure according to the threat.

    Mayor Bloomberg had terrible force unleashed on the Occupy protestors. He knew this is his last term and he would have to return to Wallstreet after his term was over, so we can all clearly see whose interest he protected and protected savagely. This is exactly the kind of misuse of power, that makes good Americans want to take their government back from from death grip of the 1%. Sadly some are willing to use violence, and sad as that may be, it too is something that is sometimes justifiable.

    Pepper spray is the minimal level of force. It's unpleasant, yes. Very. But it's not exactly Syria. They were requested to move. They failed to comply. They were moved. The pepper spray eliminates attempts to resist by distracting people and making them focus on the less than fun consequences of being sprayed. In short, it's easier to move them that way. Were they breaking the law? Yes. Should it have been used? Maybe. Is it a crisis of democracy? No.

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @06:17PM (#38142536) Homepage Journal

    The problem is that unions make it very difficult to fire people that really deserve firing.

    It was not unions that ordered the police to use force at the level that they did. And it should not be the officers, even the infamous Lt John Pike from UCDavis who will forever be known as the fat turd who strolled in front of peaceful protestors on their knees and casually sprayed them point-blank in the face with military-grade mace (and whose email address and personal information has been disseminated everywhere).

    Some of the photographic mashups of that famous photo are terrific, by the way.

    The people who ordered such over-the-top violence, the mayors and chancellors (I love that word, "chancellors") who thought they were being clever by coordinating their actions to neutralize the protests, those are the folks that should pay the price.

    But nice try, ShakaUVM, you sad fuck, to make this all a "union" issue or a "marxist" issue, instead of what it is, an issue of the overt militarization of municipal police forces. And an issue of an increasingly antsy elite who are starting to sweat in the cracks in their asses because there are just so many people who aren't rich out there who are starting to get pissed about being misused.

    I mean, when exactly did campus police start dressing like extras from an S&M production of The Empire Strikes Back, anyway? The funny thing about when you bring all that para-military drag and hardware into a small force, there are always a few who are just dying to get a chance to use it. And that sad, chubby little thug with the mustache who thought it was just so cool to show those oh-so-superior college students a thing or two about what it means to carry a badge, that little shit who probably never got the time of day from any of the hot coeds he tried to chat up on campus, who saw all those smart-ass college kids who thought they were better than him because they were going to get Masters Degree instead of his associates in criminal justice from a community college. Oh, Lt John Pike was going to show them what's what alright. And ShakaUVM who I'm sure identifies with Lt Pike shakes his fist and says, "Yeah, give it to them hippie bitches".

  • by blackest_k (761565) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @06:26PM (#38142646) Homepage Journal

    Pepperspray is not the minimal level of force. The minimal level of force would have been to pick the protesters up and move them arrest them whatever. The use of pepper spray was to instil fear into the protesters.

    Now if this was one officer getting out of hand then his colleagues should have restrained him on the other hand if that behaviour is state sanctioned then perhaps it is a crisis of democracy.
       

  • by Genda (560240) <(mariet) (at) (got.net)> on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @06:27PM (#38142656) Journal

    You have to put this into context... Students around the country are being priced out of an education, while banks are getting filthy rich enslaving entire generations of young people with crushing debt attempting to chase the American Dream. All this happening while School Chancellors are retiring on multimillion dollar pensions and salaries that are growing astronomically every year. When such a vanishingly few seem to grow wealthy on the backs of those they should be serving how can you honestly say students shouldn't exercise their fair and legal right to protest publicly.

    Simply blasting children with pepper spray not only did not solve the problem, but the video of the event so inflamed public opinion that all involved will either lose their jobs or face criminal prosecution. The use of force in this circumstance is completely unwarranted, and people will do hard time for using it. By your logic, we could start macing j-walkers and parking violators. I'm certain you'd only need to be maced once to forever find committing that crime unpalatable. How about children being unruly in the classroom, forget the Ritalin, let's just mace the little buggers, that'll make them behave. Have you ever been pepper sprayed? Do you actually think that is an appropriate response to people quietly sitting down?

  • Re:Ooooo, Infamy. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @06:27PM (#38142662) Homepage

    And then very quietly, a shift happens. They see a cop who seems a touch nervous and somewhere in the back of their mind, they think danger. Then they think they shouldn't have to think "danger" when they see a cop. After a while, they tell their kids to avoid cops entirely, even if they're lost. Slowly but surely, the population comes to think of the police as an enemy. An invading force they don't want in their neighborhood.

    Minorities are way ahead of the curve on that one for various good reasons, but the rest of the population is catching up.

    Even though I obey the law, the more stuff like this I see, the more I regard the police as a potential enemy.

  • by fishbowl (7759) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @06:37PM (#38142776)

    Even that incident is totally different from the UC Davis one. Main point: Those particular individuals were in a place where they had a specific right to be because it was their domicile. Orders to vacate could not be lawfully given in the first place, at least not without specific and valid reasons (they were not trespassing, they were not blocking ingress or egress, or creating any other specific hazard.) They weren't under arrest, and there wasn't a warrant for their arrest or even a judicial process through which their arrest was sought. If the police had authority to make arrests, they could have done so with the handcuffs and 45ACPs. It is exactly _because_ they didn't have this authority that got Pike upset enough to cease being a law enforcement officer and become a vigilante, disobeying orders, ignoring California law and the policies and procedures of his department, and take out his aggressions against these individuals. He treated them as though they were the same people as some group of Oakland rioters or whatever. When the lawsuits inevitably come, the university is going to have to settle them quietly because there are serious risks they face if they have to admit either that they lied about not giving orders to use force, or if they have to admit that Pike disobeyed orders. Either way, ugly.

  • by dougmc (70836) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @06:38PM (#38142800) Homepage

    but the video of the event so inflamed public opinion that all involved will either lose their jobs or face criminal prosecution. The use of force in this circumstance is completely unwarranted, and people will do hard time for using it.

    Are you talking about the same video? The cop who pepper sprayed the sitting protesters?

    Hard time, really? The protesters who were arrested will probably have their charges dropped. The cop is likely to get some sort of discipline applied -- he might even lose his job, depending on how badly they want to scapegoat him. The people who gave the order will receive no official punishment at all. And nobody involved (except maybe the protesters) will be charged with any actual crimes.

    This isn't the first time police have used excessive force and it was caught on video. How such cases are handled has been worked out already -- and it only involves criminal charges in the most extreme situations (and this isn't one of them. Nobody was killed or raped or robbed, for example.)

  • Re:Wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rahvin112 (446269) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @06:39PM (#38142812)

    They were committing a misdemeanor by blocking a SIDEWALK. You're argument is akin to arguing that it's OK to pepper spray someone for Jaywalking. What the officer did was assault under the color of authority. That he warned them before he indiscriminately sprayed them and the crowd doesn't change the fact that he assaulting individuals who were not a threat. Pepper spray and Tasers have their place, unfortunately, but it's not to spray a bunch of protesters engaged in a non-violent misdemeanor. The purpose of Pepper spray and Tasers is to replace the truncheon and gun in violent situations where the VIOLENT suspect can be subdued rather than shot or beat into restraints.

    Unfortunately the effectiveness of these weapons and that they don't generally cause long term damage has caused police to begin using them as payback weapons. Used to inflict pain for disobedience rather than to stop a violent situation where life threatening measures would be called for. What that officer did was nothing short of assault. They could have pulled those people apart by hand, it would have taken time and been tiring but if they wanted them gone that bad they could have done it. Not a single protester threatened those officers with violence and the use of pepper spray only constituted assault. It was used to punish the protesters for refusing to comply.

    I'll point out that in 1997 some protesters chained themselves together (with hardened steel pipe to make it even harder to separate them) and the cops selectively( as in not indiscriminately) dabbed their eyes (only the eyelids) with pepper spray swabs, the courts later ruled it was a violation of the 4th amendment. I'll say it one last time, the reason people are outraged is that the cop assaulted under the color of authority every protester there and he should be charged with the upgraded assault charge that carries for every single protester and bystander that got sprayed. Under no circumstance should he ever be allowed to be a peace officer in the state of California again.

  • by EdIII (1114411) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @06:45PM (#38142860)

    Sadly some are willing to use violence, and sad as that may be, it too is something that is sometimes justifiable

    Justifiable violence is my fear. Passive resistance, civil disobedience, and jury nullification are all wonderful examples of making your point without violence and exposing the tyranny and rationale of those in power.

    However, I can fully admit that if it came down to it, I would kill another human being without a seconds thought if it was required to protect me, my friends, or my family. If rational discourse is not possible, and the environment so extreme that conflict resolution requires deadly force, I am going to survive.

    I do truly admire those that have the courage to be passive and forgiving even while dying painful deaths at the hands of others. I just don't have it.

    Sadly, I think we are heading towards justifiable violence as the only means to take back control of our countries and our lives. Protests and legislative bodies are accomplishing next to nothing and the situation is getting so bad, that my only choice will ultimately be violence or incarceration.

    As for leaving the US, just where would I go? Every country seems to be getting progressively worse and worse for their citizens, or is in economic slavery to the 1st world super powers.

  • by causality (777677) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @06:56PM (#38142972)

    "the good that violence appears to do is temporary; the harm that it does is permanent." I suppose there are a lot of low-brow, smarmy types with nothing to contribute so for them maybe I should add "within the context of protest and trying to change society"

    You could, but then you would just be making a fool of yourself for no reason at all. What good does violence do in child-rearing? In traffic?

    I suspect that you were trying to justify warfare with your statement. So then I ask you, name one war that has not done permanent damage?

    There is a time when war is absolutely necessary. People like Hitler and Mussolini couldn't have been reasoned with. How well did appeasement work again? The time for peaceful change within Germany was before he became such a powerful dictator. The fact that war does permanent damage makes it a thing of last resort. It does not mean you are obligated to lay down and allow a tyrant to walk all over you.


    Or for a less extreme example, have you ever been physically attacked in a completely unprovoked manner by someone you have harmed in no way? If you counter-attack and knock them out, are you not merely defending yourself against an aggressor? Do you not believe that receiving such a response might make the thug think twice about attacking the next innocent?

    But for a peaceful protest? No, there is no excuse for violence. I am sorry if you cannot distinguish the difference and attribute this failure of yours to some kind of foolishness on my part. I do not consider warfare justified when there are other options. Peaceful protest is one such option. So is voting (though not so effective in a two-party system). So is the soap box. There is simply no excuse for protestors to initiate violence. Likewise, there is no excuse for police to use violence against protestors who are peaceful and do not pose a threat.

  • by pluther (647209) <pluther@u s a . net> on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @06:56PM (#38142976) Homepage
    I see a lot of people claiming that the students were breaking the law by not moving when they were told to.

    They may have been, but it's not clear that they were. Students at a University are not breaking the law by being on the grounds. There may be a school rule about erecting tents (though, at the time the pepper-spraying incident occured, all the tents had already been removed), but it's unlikely to be a law.

    Is disobeying a police officer's order to surrender your first-amendment right to peacably gather and petition the government for a redress of greviences against the law in Davis, California? I doubt it.

    But, even if they were, how come these same people who always pipe up with the claim that the protesters deserve it because they were breaking the law never also point out that the police were breaking the law by using pepper spray on them? California law is quite clear about when an officer can use force: To stop a fleeing suspect who is subject to arrest, and to eliminate a threat.

    At the incident in UC Davis, Lt. Pike was neither eliminating a threat (there was quite obviously not threat of violence by anyone other than the police), nor was anybody fleeing.

    So how come the approbation over the students who may or may not have been breaking a law, but none over the police who quite definitely were?

    Assuming New York's laws are similar to California's, Anthony Bologna was also breaking the law when macing protesters when they were corralled and contained.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @07:42PM (#38143390)

    "A policeman is a civilian" - Sam Vimes.

    Keep the peace. That was the thing. People often failed to understand what that meant. You'd go to some lifethreatening disturbance like a couple of neighbours scrapping in the street over who owned the hedge between their properties, and they'd both be bursting with aggrieved selfrighteousness, both yelling, their wives would either be having a private scrap on the side or would have adjourned to a kitchen for a shared pot of tea and a chat, and they all expected you to sort it out.

    And they could never understand that it wasn't your job. Sorting it out was a job for a good surveyor and a couple of lawyers, maybe. Your job was to quell the impulse to bang their stupid fat heads together, to ignore the affronted speeches of dodgy selfjustification, to get them to stop shouting and to get them off the street. Once that had been achieved, your job was over. You weren't some walking god, dispensing finely tuned natural justice. Your job was simply to bring back peace. - Terry Pratchett, Night Watch

    I've long thought that Pratchett should be compulsory reading in every police academy.

  • Astonished (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wdef (1050680) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:35PM (#38143800)
    The amount of belligerent, right wing disgust for people trying to assert their democratic right to protest astonishes me. Yet I suppose these right wind nut jobs are the same people who keep ranting about the right to bear arms to defend oneself against the government.
  • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:41PM (#38143850) Journal

    Pepperspray is not the minimal level of force. The minimal level of force would have been to pick the protesters up and move them arrest them whatever. The use of pepper spray was to instil fear into the protesters.

    Isn't there a term for the act of using violence to instill fear in a group of people?

  • by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @09:37PM (#38144210)

    The rest of what? People use the labels "communist," "hippie," and "socialist" as meaningless insults. Don't like what someone is saying/advocating? Call them one of those three ("pedophile" or "terrorist" might also suffice) names!

  • by Amouth (879122) on Wednesday November 23, 2011 @12:44AM (#38145324)

    which reinforces one law for the rulers and one law for the ruled.. i can assure you that if the person the officer sprayed had done that to the officer or even retaliated in the exact same manner (pepper spraying the officer) that person would be doing jail time and there wouldn't be any questions about it.

    by not prosecuting the officers and not punishing them for the crime you are giving other officers a very real affirmation that they can get away with the same actions.

  • by dougmc (70836) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Wednesday November 23, 2011 @01:11AM (#38145486) Homepage

    which reinforces one law for the rulers and one law for the ruled.. i can assure you that if the person the officer sprayed had done that to the officer or even retaliated in the exact same manner (pepper spraying the officer) that person would be doing jail time and there wouldn't be any questions about it.

    by not prosecuting the officers and not punishing them for the crime you are giving other officers a very real affirmation that they can get away with the same actions.

    If it was up to me, officers would indeed be prosecuted for things like this. I'd be inclined to give them some more leeway than normal citizens when they are clearly doing their job -- but that leeway would have limits, and this would have passed it.

    But it's not up to me.

    Pointing out what is likely to happen and explaining why is not the same as supporting it.

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