Pepper Spray: “Food Product” or Weapon?
by Kevin_Foley
 Politics Progressive
November 23, 2011 02:42 PM | 3855 views | 0 0 comments | 95 95 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
It wasn't Kent State, but it was still appalling.

A group of peaceful students protesting tuition hikes at the University of California Davis were blasted with pepper spray at close range by campus police. This horrific, violent and unprovoked attack was caught by news cameras and scores of mobile devices before instantly going viral.

Bear in mind, in the very first amendment of the United States Constitution we find our right to peaceably assemble is protected. But what happened at UC Davis was eerily reminiscent of how police deal with protesters in Iran or China.

UC Davis police claimed they felt threatened by the crowd, but looking at the video shot by a local news crew, one sees only a bunch of heavily armed and helmeted cops poking batons at kids wielding cell phone cameras and iPads. The police officers who did the spraying seemed utterly nonchalant, as though they were using Raid on pesky mosquitoes at a backyard barbecue.

In an e-mail sent to students and faculty just hours after the police assault on the protesters, UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi seemed to blame the victims: “We deeply regret that many of the protestors today chose not to work with our campus staff and police to remove the encampment as requested.”

A few days later, Katehi was backpedaling as fast as she could as the public relations fallout over the scandal rocked the entireCaliforniauniversity system:

"We told the police to remove the tents or the equipment," Katehi declared. "We told them very specifically to do it peacefully, and if there were too many of them, not to do it, if the students were aggressive, not to do it. And then we told them we also do not want to have another Berkeley."

Well, she got another Berkeley, except Katehi’s happened in the digital age. The visual evidence of her police officers’ abuse is irrefutable. Now calls for her resignation are mounting. UC Davis Professor Nathan Brown’s petition demanding her removal has at least 73,000 signatures. 

“Your words express concern for the safety of our students. Your actions express no concern whatsoever for the safety of our students,” Brown wrote in an open letter. “I deduce from this discrepancy that you are not, in fact, concerned about the safety of our students. Your actions directly threaten the safety of our students.”

Chancellor Katehi’s fate remains uncertain. So far, only UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza and the two officers who pepper sprayed the protesters have been held to account. They’ve been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.

The far right media, which claims to hold the Constitution in high regard, went into mitigation overdrive. Conservative blogger Jim Hoft said spraying the students was, “How to shut down a row of screeching libs in 4 easy swoops.” Fox’s Jim Starnes asked what should be done about “domestic terrorists” on college campuses.

“We don’t have the right to Monday morning quarterback the police,” Bill O’Reilly laughably pronounced. “Especially at a place like UC Davis, which is a fairly liberal campus.”

Pepper spray, observed Megyn Kelly of Fox News, is just a “food product.”

I carry pepper spray when I hike in Montanain case I’m attacked by a grizzly bear. It is an awful weapon, especially when used on humans. Maybe Kelly should sample a dose on the air, perhaps as a salad dressing.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet
Kevin Foley is a 1979 graduate of the University of Connecticut and a former newspaper reporter. In 1981, he began his 30-year career in public relations, working in account management for Burson-Marsteller and Ketchum, two international PR firms. In 1986, he launched KEF Media in Chicago, a firm specializing in broadcast and Internet public relations. He moved the company to Atlanta in 1993. His career has taken him around the world and to every major city in America. Along the way he has worked with celebrities and public figures like Hank Aaron, Jane Seymour, Bob Dole, Nolan Ryan and Ryan Seacrest. Kevin went into semi-retirement in 2009 to pursue his long delayed writing career. In 2008 he published his first novel, "Where Law Ends," and has three other novels in various stages of completion. Kevin serves on the board of directors at Pinetree Country Club where enjoys golf and tennis. He and his wife Susie live in Kennesaw. The couple has two grown children.

Other Blogs:

Improving Our Community
by Kevin_Foley
Feb 06, 2012 | 430 430 recommendations | email to a friend
A look at ways Cobb County and Kennesaw can become more enriched
Buy Local
by Kevin_Foley
Jan 19, 2012 | 385 385 recommendations | email to a friend
I'll Take Marietta Square Over A Mall