Here are my three favorite posts – plus my “Pic of the Week” – from my Facebook wall during the preceding week (I try to get this done each Friday).

On Monday, November 21, I posted:

When I saw video of a UC Davis police officer using pepper spray on demonstrators, I almost immediately asked myself, “Why wasn’t that lieutenant charged with assault and battery?”
As I’ve thought about the situation more (and as I’ve read friends comments here on Facebook), I’ve asked myself, “If I was on the jury (in a case where the lieutenant was charged), what would I want the state to prove?”
I don’t have an answer to the second question, but I know I want the UC Davis police to answer these questions:
a. What are standard police guidelines about the use of pepper spray?
b. What are “best practices” regarding police use of pepper spray?
c. When is it legal for a civilian to possess and/or use pepper spray on a UC campus?
d. What was the threat – to police and/or public safety – that caused the necessity to move the protestors?
e. Why was using pepper spray the appropriate IN THIS CASE?

This elicited several responses including this response:

A very interesting essay by a Andrew Sullivan reader about the pepper spraying incident at UC Davis: The thing that strikes me in the UC Davis video is the posture of Lieutenant John Pike, the man who directs pepper spray into the faces of those students at point blank range. Pike’s visor is up and his manner is completely relaxed – this is not a man who is concerned about a threat of imminent violence against him. He looks like someone spraying a weed with Roundup.
Let’s call the pepper spraying incident what it was: punishment. There was no threat of danger to the police. No, those students were punished by the police for refusing to obey. When they tried to protect themselves, the police ensured that they received the full dose of punishment, literally down their throats.
The thing is, punishment is a government act that is controlled by the Constitution. Three separate amendments in the Bill of Rights apply. Under the Fifth Amendment, government punishment cannot be meted out without “due process of law.” The Sixth Amendment requires a fair trial before punishment. Under the Eighth Amendment, “cruel and unusual punishments” cannot be employed no matter what kind of “due process” is given. All of these Amendments apply to the Davis police force and Lieutenant John Pike through the Fourteenth Amendment, which applied these duties (and the First Amendment) to the states. This act was not just evil, but a violation of our most sacred Constitutional precepts.
The Davis police website even indicates that the force has a “Professional Standards Unit” that is required to “ensure the department complies with current law, community needs and industry standards.” Of course, I don’t think I’d get very far with that approach. The name directly above the description of the “Professional Standards Unit” is Lieutenant John Pike.

And this response:

It would be hard to say that having a hazardous substance directed (in close range) at vulnerable mucous membranes was completely in the name of self defense, in that particular instance. I do think it’s a bit off-target for us as a public to latch on to Lt. John Pike’s ‘casual,’ ‘bored’ or ‘indifferent’ application. Having worked closely with people applying serious force, such as Tazers, I would far prefer the officer for whom force was a duty, rather than an amusing pastime. With that said, the expression on ones face may not betray the content of their heart. He may have been filled with dread, loathing, or the boredom people interpreted. However, it’s only his actions we can judge. (In my humble opinion.)

And another friend pointed me to this piece from The Atlantic [that I also think is worth reading]:
http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/11/why-i-feel-bad-for-the-pepperspraying-policeman-lt-john-pike/248772/

Later on Monday, November 21, I posted:

It seems to me that there are various levels of group protest. For instance, there is the group organizing a letter writing campaign, there is holding a legal rally to voice opinions, there’s holding a non-violent act of civil disobedience, there’s holding a violent action (violence against property), and there’s holding a violent action (committing violence against people). [I do not think this is an exhaustive list, but you get the idea. Let me also add that I think the violent choices are morally bankrupt.]

The first two acts are legal and mostly non-disruptive. Unfortunately, sometimes disruption is necessary to get the point across. Sometimes disruption needs to be great enough that it forces uninvolved people to take notice, inviting them to take action, so that eventually the desired change takes place.

It is important to recognize, however, that when a person or group choose a more disruptive course of action, when they choose civil disobedience, they are choosing to be *disobedient.* That is, they are choosing to break a law. And when someone chooses to break a law he/she should expect to be arrested.

The question in the UC Davis case is, I think, did the police use excessive force in arresting the persons who were breaking the law?

The video that I’ve seen and the eye witness reports I’ve heard suggest that excessive force was used. Excessive force is also a criminal act and cops who perpetrate it should expect to be sanctioned for it.

I’m looking forward to what others have to say about this POV.

I got responses, including this on from a friend who once worked in Probation:

In watching the video on the news, it did not appear that any of the protesters that were sprayed were offering physical acts of violent resisting arrest. They just sat and linked arms in classical non-violent protest. To have at hand the much pepper spray, means to me, that they officers were planning to use it. There is not question from the video that excessive force was used, and that the officers that used the spray should be charged with a felony. Do understand that they were suspended, but the whole thing shows the mind set of a department. A real problem on a campus of a university, the campus police will do that to students.

And this:

I think you are too charitable to disruption. If I sit in traffic because of a group choosing to block a road, that’s annoying. If a thousand people are stuck in traffic caused by a group blocking a road, that’s a bit more than annoying. What percentage of those people needed to be somewhere? How many of them had to pay out extra cash because they couldn’t get to the normal pickup time for their kid’s daycare or babysitter? What it some of those folks were sick and needed to be home to rest, vomit, sit in warm water, or relax? Then sitting in traffic is a cruelty, not just an annoyance. What if an ambulance is delayed by protesters? They can call themselves magnanimous by allowing emergency vehicles to pass their protest, but they need to get to the protest first, which is made harder and slower.

Traffic happens and we deal. Some are inconvenienced and some are harmed. And some folks die in transit to a hospital when they might otherwise live. That’s life. But when it happens because of a conscious decision, then there is culpability to bear. The rhetoric from the protestors that I hear is that they do not care about the inconvenience they are causing. The rhetoric I hear is that we deserve it because we do not pay them sufficient attention.

The occupy movement is not being ignored. They should not employ the tactic of mass disruption. Occupying a bank lobby, occupying a college quad, these are all fine. Occupying one of the four bridges in Seattle … now you’ve lost me.

And my response to this last comment:
I think Chuck raises an interesting point about the tactic of using non-violent civil disobedience — that there are different ways to do it and different levels of disruption that can be caused. Sometimes some actions gain supporters (or at least gain notice) and sometimes some actions lose supporters. However, I think that the pictures of the water hoses and dogs helped the cause of the Civil Rights movement as much or more than the sit-ins at Woolworth lunch counters.

On Wednesday, November 23, I posted:
Here’s Billy Nye (the Science Guy) explaining what climate change is all about … and why we need to cut through the lies and denial NOW.

And I’m not sure which of these should be my “Pic of the week.”

FINALLY, a use of the pepper spraying cop meme (not sure if that’s correct grammar) that actually made me laugh!

Obviously, we need to write our signs a little more slowly.

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