Eric Rauchway and Ari Kelman on the UC Davis disgrace

by Henry on November 20, 2011

The following is a guest post from Eric Rauchway and Ari Kelman, both history professors at UC Davis (and bloggers at the recently revived Edge of the American West, which I imagine will have a lot to say about this over the coming days.
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On Friday, 11/18/11, police at UC Davis doused nonviolent protesters with pepper spray.

The police officer with the pepper spray, identified as Lt. John Pike of the UC Davis Campus Police, looks utterly nonchalant, for all the world as if he were hosing aphids off a rose bush. The scene bespeaks a lack of basic human empathy, an utter intolerance for dissent, or perhaps both. Pike’s actions met with approval from the chief of campus police, Annette Spicuzza, “who observed the chaotic events on the Quad, [and] said immediately afterward that she was ‘very proud’ of her officers.” Clearly in Chief Spicuzza’s mind there was nothing exceptional about the use of pepper spray against nonviolent protesters.


Campus and community response has held otherwise. Chancellor Linda Katehi (the Chancellor is the top administrative officer of a UC campus) sent an email Friday afternoon saying, “We are saddened to report that during this activity, 10 protestors were arrested and pepper spray was used.” Note the Reaganesque passive voice. One might well conclude from that construction that the protesters were the ones using the pepper spray; one does not have one’s attention called to the fact that the Chancellor herself ordered the police to the quad.
A Saturday email from the Chancellor uses slightly stronger language: “Yesterday was not a day that would make anyone on our campus proud”—clearly the Chancellor hasn’t spoken to Chief Spicuzza— “… The use of pepper spray as shown on the video is chilling to us all and raises many questions about how best to handle situations like this.”

But it is clear that the use of pepper spray was not so much chilling as routine for the police officers and also, again, that Chancellor Katehi ordered the police to clear the quad of protesters. Was she then surprised by what ensued? Did she not see what happened at UC Berkeley only a week ago? Based on even a passing familiarity with both recent and more distant history, the results should and could have been predicted; a reasonable person should have known to a first approximation how UC campus police might respond when facing nonviolent protesters, and, most important, a prudent administrator should have given strict instructions on how to handle such a situation.

What is remarkable here is less the error of zeal than the sin of ignorance. Violence is an ineffective response to nonviolent protest, a fan to the flames of community unrest. Those of us who teach the history of the US in the 1960s know this; Martin Luther King, Jr. and other leaders in the nonviolent Civil Rights movement understood how to capitalize on the pigheaded stupidity of the policemen they faced. Eugene “Bull” Connor, police chief of Birmingham, used fire hoses and Alsatians against nonviolent protesters, including schoolchildren and college students; Jim Clark, the sheriff at Selma, used tear-gas and billy clubs. Their names we know, for these characters are inextricable from major Civil Rights victories: they helped create the indelible images that shocked the world and fostered lasting change in America.

To see the attitudes of segregationist police officers toward civil dissenters recapitulated on our campus is a matter of great shame. As Chancellor Katehi suggests in her statement linked above, UC Davis should be “a place of inquiry, debate, and even dissent.” We cannot fathom how such sentiments can coexist with the callous brutality of Friday. That said, we agree with the Chancellor. Universities should devote themselves to inquiry and learning. Such activities can thrive only in an atmosphere that not only tolerates but encourages rigorous debate and dissent, an atmosphere in which students and faculty feel confident and safe even when they choose to confront the administration with contrary opinions.

Americans have known for decades it is both immoral and ineffective to meet nonviolence with violence. UC Berkeley and its Chancellor, Robert Birgeneau, provided us a reminder of this lesson last week. But we forget nothing and learn nothing. Ronald Reagan, after all, met UC protesters with tear gas. Which can help you get attention so you can run for higher office. But it is no way to run a campus.

{ 165 comments }

1

Antti Nannimus 11.20.11 at 4:35 am

Hi,

Why are the cops and civil authorities always on the wrong side of every social justice movement?

We need to be very careful about who we give the right to monopoly on the use of force and violence. When we give exclusive power to use force and violence to thugs, we should expect thuggery will be committed on us.

The question, of course, assumes we still have the power to make that choice. I suppose we also need to admit as well that we don’t have that choice anymore.

Have a nice day,
Antti

2

Doctor Memory 11.20.11 at 4:54 am

Antti@1: oh, but we have been careful about who we give that power. So very careful, indeed.

This, of course, ties well into D2′s strategic arsehole deployment theory of tyrannical government. In situations where the proles start getting ideas above their station, the USA has no need to call up an ad hoc reactionary militia to go break heads: we already have a standing reactionary militia, and it’s called your “local” police force. “Local” in scare-quotes, since the odds of any given urban policeman living anywhere close to the city he is paid to police are vanishingly small: here, D2′s hypothetical busful of coal miners is already being paid to commute 2-3 hours per day to come break heads for the man.

(Link above to Delong’s quote of Daniel since D2′s blog has recently gone off the air. What’s up with that?)

3

Anderson 11.20.11 at 5:16 am

So if she doesn’t resign, then what?

4

Atticus Dogsbody 11.20.11 at 6:04 am

So if she doesn’t resign, then what?

Step 1. Brutalize the kids.

Step 2. ???

Step 3. Profit!

That’s the game plan.

5

Aditya Dev Sood 11.20.11 at 6:24 am

The odd phenomena encircling the world, of leaderless protests lined up against institutions with known and named heads represents this one challenge: there is no one to provide the mass movements leadership.

In this case leadership might involve one on one meetings with institutional power, the brokering of specific terms for on-going actions of dissent, the building of a new theoretical horizon which would represent the common future towards which both parties might jointly head.

MKG and MLK would ask today, what is the dream?

6

Jim Harrison 11.20.11 at 6:28 am

UC chancellors make big bucks as they cheerfully vote behind closed doors to raise tuition for the umpteenth year in a row. The pepper spray is not the only reason this woman needs to be shown the door.

7

Yarrow 11.20.11 at 6:31 am

Violence is an ineffective response to nonviolent protest, a fan to the flames of community unrest.

Sometimes it is.

After Seattle, and before Occupy Wall St., violence worked just fine for the police. It made John Timoney’s career at the Republican National Convention in 2000 and the Miami FTAA protests in 2003. (If he did not create the Miami model of false stories about protesters’ plans for violence, preemptive arrests, and finally massive police violence toward protesters, then certainly he popularized it. It became conventional police wisdom. The AP article about UC Davis quotes “Charles J. Kelly, a former Baltimore Police Department lieutenant who wrote the department’s use of force guidelines” as saying “What I’m looking at is fairly standard police procedure”. I believe him.

Before OWS, I’d been in demonstrations where I narrowly escaped injury, and where some of my friends hadn’t. I’d seen the news stories — about violent protesters and restrained police response. I wasn’t expecting anything like the media response to OWS. The mood of the country has changed.

(Though I’ll note that the police lie that UC Davis cops were surrounded by protesters before they pepper-sprayed anyone was very prominent in the early news stories, and is still there in most of them, hanging like a swollen tick from the facts that anyone can see on Youtube.)

8

Michael Harris 11.20.11 at 7:02 am

9

Michael Harris 11.20.11 at 8:44 am

10

David M 11.20.11 at 9:08 am

Must see video of Chancellor Katehi walking to her car with a line of silent students marking her path.

11

Andrew F. 11.20.11 at 11:30 am

Worth investigating, but the author of the article fails to distinguish between nonviolent resistance and passive resistance, and it’s a pretty important distinction for a case like this. At a minimum I hope that it’s stressed to any volunteers for the protests.

Passive resistance would involve simply “going limp,” not helping an officer render an arrest, but not using strength and movement to resist the arrest.

“Nonviolent resistance” isn’t the same as passive resistance, though as a category it includes passive resistance. Nonviolent resistance can also involve tightly linking arms and refusing to be moved, using one’s strength to prevent an officer from effecting an arrest, and so forth, i.e. actively resisting arrest.

Generally, use of force guidelines would likely prohibit an officer from using pepper spray against an individual exhibiting merely passive resistance.

But actively resisting an arrest, even in nonviolent ways, requires the officer to use more force to effect an arrest. This can include hands-on pain compliance, which would involve the application of physical force and temporary pain to induce compliance; this can also include the use of pepper spray (which, though very unpleasant, fades quickly).

In a truly peaceful protest, one uses passive resistance when an officer makes an arrest. Being arrested, submitting peacefully to authorities, is a part of nonviolent civil disobedience. One breaks the law, and accepts, peacefully, the consequences.

Without seeing more of what happened before the use of pepper spray, it’s difficult to make any judgments. If the group had actively resisted arrest, and continued to do so, then the only question for the officers there would be how to effect the arrest within the use of force guidelines and as safely as possible for themselves and the protesters. The alternative to pepper spray for the officers there may have been to use other forms of force to induce compliance, none of which would have been pleasant for the protesters and which – depending on how many officers were actually on the scene – could have been more dangerous for the protesters. These are issues which cannot be resolved by a viewing of that video, and these are issues which must be resolved before one can justifiably condemn the officers portrayed.

Now, there’s also certainly a decision-point before the police arrive on the scene, and it’s worth asking whether alternative avenues were explored. But that decision-point obviously isn’t the focus of the video or of the article.

12

Bill Snowden 11.20.11 at 11:54 am

Andrew F. always seems to find it “difficult to make any judgments” that might reflect poorly on police; after all, officers may have been badly injured by students and evacuated by helicopter just before this video begins, or perhaps just out of frame. Besides, the almost perceptible rise in turgor pressure that accompanies his use of the phrase “to induce compliance” is justification enough.

13

Henri Vieuxtemps 11.20.11 at 12:37 pm

Protest was staged in support of the OWS movement. OWS clearly is framed in terms of a class war – 99% vs 1% of the richest. But the class war is a war; what’s the point of complaining about a little pepper spray? The top 1% controls $19 trillion of wealth, and they are not about to start hugging, sharing, and singing kumbaya with you. You want to take them on, you should count pepper spray without machine gun fire a good day.

14

Rich Puchalsky 11.20.11 at 12:58 pm

Glenn Greenwald: “Not sure why, but nobody spews inhuman, bureaucratic tripe as relentlessly & blindly as college administrators: http://is.gd/6x1CSJ“.

Andrew F’s laugh-out-loud bit about the difference between passive and nonviolent resistance, and how nonviolent resistance justifies pain compliance and pepper spray, is sadly paired with Henri Vieuxtemps’ tiresome “you signed up for class war, so you should feel lucky that you weren’t shot.” Meanwhile other people are assuring us that the recent evictions did us a favor because now that those homeless people are gone, Fox will stop saying mean things about us, and besides it made Bloomberg look really bad so why should we care. And the “libertarians” are going into full eliminationist mode, all about lice and TB and ringworm and isn’t it great how the police are wiping that health hazard out.

I don’t think that it’s ineffective to meet nonviolence with violence in general. It depends on the reactions of people not involved in the conflict. Based on the reactions of people here, Katehi hasn’t done anything wrong in terms of effectiveness.

15

Tom Bach 11.20.11 at 1:08 pm

This [g]enerally, use of force guidelines would likely prohibit an officer from using pepper spray against an individual exhibiting merely passive resistance is a perfect example of how difficult it is to defend the indefensible.

16

cian 11.20.11 at 1:30 pm

Without seeing more of what happened before the use of pepper spray, it’s difficult to make any judgments.

Good old predictably fascist Andrew. If the cop had shot one of them, he’d have justified it somehow.

17

Malaclypse 11.20.11 at 2:23 pm

If the group had actively resisted arrest, and continued to do so, then the only question for the officers there would be how to effect the arrest within the use of force guidelines and as safely as possible for themselves and the protesters.

Actually, there is a different possible question: why are these people being arrested at all? What crime have they committed?

18

Rich Puchalsky 11.20.11 at 2:30 pm

Malaclypse, here is the stated justification for the arrests:
“On Thursday, the group stayed overnight despite repeated reminders by university staff that their encampment violated university policies and they were requested to disperse. On Friday morning, the protestors were provided with a letter explaining university policies and reminding them of the opportunities the university provides for expression. Driven by our concern for the safety and health of the students involved in the protest, as well as other students on our campus, I made the decision not to allow encampments on the Quad during the weekend, when the general campus facilities are locked and the university staff is not widely available to provide support.”

So it was all because of concern for the safety and health of the students involved in the protest. That is why they had to be pepper-sprayed.

19

Uncle Kvetch 11.20.11 at 2:38 pm

Worth investigating, but

Oh, for the love of God.

Please don’t feed the Andrew.

20

John Protevi 11.20.11 at 2:39 pm

As Chancellor Katehi suggests in her statement linked above, UC Davis should be “a place of inquiry, debate, and even especially dissent.”

I simply fixed what was no doubt merely a transcriptional error.

21

Platonist 11.20.11 at 2:43 pm

From Gandhi’s “laugh out loud” principles of resistance, that seem to rely on the distinction between passive and non-passive forms of civil disobedience:
“When any person in authority seeks to arrest a civil resister, he will voluntarily submit to the arrest, and he will not resist the attachment or removal of his own property, if any, when it is sought to be confiscated by authorities.”

Of course, this is all beside the point, since it’s absolutely unacceptable to use violence against non-violent protestors, passive or otherwise.

If anything, the distinction seems important strategically and symbolically. There may be situations where the symbolism of not assisting or resisting, of “suffering anger” as Gandhi puts it, is more effective. That’s probably not the case here, since OWS has been successful precisely by asserting the people’s right to anger, and by intentionally choosing a symbolism (occupation) that asserts that right to non-passivity.

22

Henry 11.20.11 at 2:45 pm

John, I imagine that “even” is being used in that figure of speech I can’t remember where you draw attention to something by deliberately understating it.

23

John Protevi 11.20.11 at 2:57 pm

Hi Henry, I think “litotes” is the figure of name of the figure of speech for deliberate understatement. But I read the “even” in Katehi’s sentence as a psychological slip rather than a rhetorical ploy, indicating Katehi’s view of dissent as grudging admission of something she would rather not have on campus, rather than something to be encouraged.

24

John Protevi 11.20.11 at 3:07 pm

“the name of the figure of speech” it should be.

25

Yarrow 11.20.11 at 3:22 pm

Platonist: But also, “If a civil resister has any property in his possession as a trustee, he will refuse to surrender it, even though in defending it he might lose his life.” Is your arm, linked to mine, something in my possession as a trustee? If so, Gandhi tells me not to surrender it. And didn’t satyagrahis link arms to defend people boiling salt during the salt march?

26

Rich Puchalsky 11.20.11 at 3:26 pm

When those students seen in the video being pepper sprayed were kneeling on the ground in front of the police, I guess that they were not resisting in proper Gandhian fashion! Unlike when Gandhi’s resisters used to, oh, lie down on train tracks.

27

Meredith 11.20.11 at 3:49 pm

I do not pretend to know the full legal implications of the federal jury’s 2009 verdict, which held the County of Humboldt and the City of Eureka liable for excessive force, in violation of the 4th amendment, when police applied pepper spray directly on the faces of environmental protesters at an old forest in Humbolt County in 1997. digby has a post, “Yes of course pepper stray is a torture device,” on 11/19 and links to this:

http://www.pej.org/html/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=2451&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0

At the very least, the UCPD, other law enforcement groups at Davis involved in this “action,” and the university itself, face years of civil litigation.

This is mostly about intimidation. The increasing reliance of “authorities” on intimidation to discourage people’s exercise of their first amendment rights of free speech and peaceable assembly is particularly heinous when it’s college/university administrators enlisting instruments of intimidation to be used on their own students and faculty.
A small state college near me, in a virtually no-crime area with the local police station two minutes from campus and a state police barracks ten minutes away, is preparing to arm the campus security guards with guns. The administration claims that students and faculty will feel and be safer. (Yeah, right. Nearly all the students and faculty oppose the move.) I guess we’re all learning what it’s like to live in a police state, one that defends vast income disparities and various forms of privilege. Banana republic, here we come.

28

Another Damned Medievalist 11.20.11 at 3:51 pm

One of the things that has struck me about the videos of various protests is that, even when we see the excessive use of force and what can only be termed as police brutality, there are at least as many officers trying to calm things down as there are ones who are crossing the line.

A friend of mine from grad school is now a police detective in one of our metropoleis. I asked her about this, and the points she’s made include that: the people at the top generally set the tone of the police response (although a lot of experienced officers will interpret orders as conservatively as possible, because they KNOW they don’t want riots, and will try to get that message through); a lot of the people we’ve seen crossing the line in the videos are brass — people who should know better, but who also aren’t normally out on the streets; Pike, the guy at Davis, appears to be in charge of Records, and that many of the people in that position are guys who are close to retirement or who haven’t done anything to lose their jobs, but it’s considered better off to have them behind a desk. It would be very interesting to hear what the UCDP officers have to say, rather than the brass.

We expect better of police, because they are better trained to react to crowds, violence in groups, etc. But they are still people, and at some point, for some of them, all of those things we hear about mob behavior are going to come into play. I think what we are seeing in the bigger picture is not much different to what we are seeing in the banking industry, government, etc. Too many people given too much power with too little accountability. This isn’t new. It’s the culmination of at least 20 years of citizens who should have been more vigilant being lulled into a false sense of security based on very comfortable lives.

29

mw 11.20.11 at 4:04 pm

And the “libertarians” are going into full eliminationist mode, all about lice and TB and ringworm and isn’t it great how the police are wiping that health hazard out.

Really?

http://reason.com/blog#article_153682

Which is consistent with extensive Reason’s coverage of non-OWS-related police brutality, which has certainly not ended with Radley Balko moving from Reason to Huffington Post, for example:

http://reason.com/blog/2011/07/29/homeless-man-dies-after-being

And don’t forget, the police who are carrying out the beatings are public-sector union members and part of the Democratic coalition, and the officials giving the orders are putatively ‘progressive’ leaders (big city mayors and university administrators). There are no libertarians involved.

30

Antonio Conselheiro 11.20.11 at 4:08 pm

Without seeing more of what happened before the use of pepper spray, it’s difficult to make any judgments.

No it isn’t. You have decided to say that it is, though. That’s the judgment you have made. The period before the video isn’t unknown, though for your purposes it’s necessary to pretend that it is.

If the group had actively resisted arrest, and continued to do so, then the only question for the officers there would be how to effect the arrest within the use of force guidelines and as safely as possible for themselves and the protesters.

Also not true, unless it’s decided for some reason that the protestors must be arrested.

Thanks, though, for your exhibition of fake judiciousness and bureaucratic obfuscation.

31

Antonio Conselheiro 11.20.11 at 4:11 pm

“Not sure why, but nobody spews inhuman, bureaucratic tripe as relentlessly & blindly as college administrators

Also true at the level of HS and middle school administration.

32

Antonio Conselheiro 11.20.11 at 4:21 pm

A lot of the people we’ve seen crossing the line in the videos are brass—people who should know better, but who also aren’t normally out on the streets.

In a tense situation one individual escalating on his own initiative can change the rules for everyone else. This was used in the other direction by the “radicalization” faction during the Vietnam era — invite everyone to a peaceful demonstration and then provoke police violence. (This tactic was advocated; it wasn’t just an accusation). So maybe someone in the police department wanted something like this.

In much of the US the local police are semi-autonomous, often with elected police chiefs. The liberal cities of the US (SF, Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis) are especially notable for inability to to control their police (if only because there’s a presumption that the civilian authorities actually want to control the police).

And with the Wars on terror and drugs, and steps taken to federalize policing, and the growing authoritarian constituency egged on by authoritarian media, there’s little reason for cops to respect local elected officials.

33

Rich Puchalsky 11.20.11 at 4:38 pm

Have you ever read the comments on Reason’s blog posts, mw? Sure, they kept Radley Balko around for a while as the token civil liberties guy. And the posters themselves generally try to appear less propagandistic than Fox — though I note that the current post up about OWS is titled “OWS Los Angeles Clashes with LAPD; Promises to ‘F**K Grey Aliens,’ Illuminati, Satan”, so I think that I just gave them too much credit. But the comment sections, the people they’re playing to, are absolutely filled with people cheering the cops on to beat up the hippies, with all of the standard tropes about how they’re vermin who need to be wiped out. The only difference is that this time they need to be wiped out to defend private property.

34

bcgister 11.20.11 at 5:18 pm

Also posted at TBogg:
From Charles Pierce at Esquire:
“In case you missed it, disgrace-to-boozy-bar-room-skanks everywhere Annie Coulter has a new book out. Apparently, she was plugging it on some San Francisco radio embarrassment yesterday.
I draw your attention to No. 6:
‘Remember the lesson from my book: It just took a few shootings at Kent State to shut that down for good.’”
November 18, 2011 at 5:51PM By Charles P. Pierce

Apparently, the administration at UCDavis thought well of Anne Coulter’s wise words and heeded them: the pepper-spraying of the students was simply a bald display of power with the intention of intimidating any future wanna-be protestors. When the expectation of a measured response to a demonstration is taken off the table, future protestors can rationally fear that any response from the police is possible.
Given that it has a name that is seemingly no longer implausibly reminiscent of a ministry in an authoritarian regime, perhaps it is time for OWS to add the dismantling of the DHS to its list of demands.

35

markg 11.20.11 at 5:50 pm

I can understand a poorly-disciplined sociopathic cop engaging in brutality against a group he/she despises. It literally happens every day somewhere. What I can’t understand is how it ever got to the point where officer Pike got that opportunity at UC-Davis. How could administrators have possibly reached the decision to send it large numbers of heavily armed cops in riot gear to forcibly end a small, non-disruptive student protest? couldn’t anyone involved see the downside, the chance of a catastrophic outcome, for protestors or police, or as will probably be the case, for their own careers? Couldn’t anyone think of of a better response? One can only speculate what was going through the chancellor’s mind, or whether she now appreciates how badly she handled matters. I hope she will soon.

36

Bill Benzon 11.20.11 at 5:53 pm

Cathy Davidson (formerly vice provost at Duke) on police violence against students:

http://m.cathydavidson.com/2011/11/why-this-is-a-gettysburg-address-moment-for-higher-education/#mobify-bookmark

First, let’s look at the reason for calling the police in the first place. I keep hearing the arguments that universities have to call in the police to protect the students, that the Occupy encampments are unsanitary, unsafe, and insecure. That’s almost comical when you teach at Duke where “tenting” is one of our most venerable student traditions. A tent-city called K-Ville has been thriving since 1986. Krzyzewskiville (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krzyzewskiville) is an encampment of students staying in tents, in winter, for weeks at time in order not to lose priority getting into Duke basketball games. A few years ago, my students and I even looked at the community rules and community standards for K-Ville in order to understand self-organizing community groups, constitutions, and regulation. You can read the university’s own evolving rules for this extraordinary phenomenon here: http://www.kville.info/ If K-Ville can thrive safely, securely, and with proper sanitation even in the heat of winning and losing basketball championships, for a quarter of a century, so can a well-organized group of students fighting for their education, for better funding for their university, and for their future.

Last two paragraphs:

We are at a turning point, and leadership is required to prevent disaster. We need to take in what is happening and change course. It is not too late. University leaders across the nation need to step back, think about what is happening, and be on the side of justice and right and, in the end, on the side of education. That is what our students want, and we want that too.

We need wisdom and passion and moral vision. That is what we all say higher education is for. It’s a Gettysburg moment. I very much hope our university leaders will claim it.

37

PGD 11.20.11 at 6:06 pm

In this case leadership might involve one on one meetings with institutional power, the brokering of specific terms for on-going actions of dissent, the building of a new theoretical horizon which would represent the common future towards which both parties might jointly head.

Screw that. This is like the left version of the administrative mumbo-jumbo Katehi put out. Flood the campus with protestors until Spicuzzi, Katehi, and Pike are all gone. Of course they’ll likely get six figure pensions but you can’t have everything.

38

chris y 11.20.11 at 6:09 pm

Twitter-rumour:

Two UC Davis police officers have been placed on administrative leave following their use of pepper spray in Friday’s arrest of protesters.

39

Bill Benzon 11.20.11 at 6:15 pm

@ PDG # 38. Yep, fire the lot of them. And let the administrators sit on the bench next to the Penn State administrators who’ve been sacked.

40

Meredith 11.20.11 at 6:23 pm

Bill Benzon@37, thanks for the Cathy Davidson/Duke story. Gives me enough hope to get through the day.

41

nick s 11.20.11 at 6:28 pm

Campus cops = mall cops with more toys at their disposal.

42

Platonist 11.20.11 at 6:32 pm

Puchalsky 11.20.11 at 3:26 pm
“I guess that they were not resisting in proper Gandhian fashion!”

On the contrary, I think the protesters behaved perfectly and the police abominably. My point was that the distinction between passive and non-passive resistance is a meaningful one, not that the passive form is preferable.

Yarrow,
The salt march might well be a case of inconsistent practice. On the point about possessions “as a trustee,” I took that to mean property that is not one’s own.

At the risk, of hijacking the thread topic, I still think this difference between active and passive non-violent resistance is important for distinguishing the unique features of OWS. It seems to me that passive resistance acknowledges a basic or overall systematic legitimacy, by demanding that one suffer, without resistance, the legal consequences of civil disobedience. This is consistent with many of its historic instances: demanding fair and equal application of the law. In this respect, it does what OWS seems very intent on not doing, asking the ruling class to grant concessions, and enforcing this posture of requesting by willingly taking the punishment for violating the law.

OWS, in contrast, seems to challenge the ruling class on a deeper level, performatively declaring the right, not to protest or to disobey, but to occupy in the sense of *taking over* a space and *actively refusing* to give it up. This, in turn, suggests that the movement conceives of its legitimacy in a different way than former movements: there is an implied claim of a right to stand against both law and its consequences, which in turn implies a more foundational challenge to the legal and economic system in which fair play has been so systematically damaged that the losers no longer accept the ground rules, rather than rejecting the inconsistent application of secondary level rules.

So, does anyone have any links to a good focused discussion on the theoretical underpinnings of OWS, especially its emphasis upon the concept of “occupation”?

43

Another Damned Medievalist 11.20.11 at 6:42 pm

And if this weren’t upsetting enough, this little piece in the CHE, showing that Pike makes about twice what an assistant professor makes (and actually, twice what this UC alumna associate professor makes at a SLAC), really puts the icing on the cake.

44

Antonio Conselheiro 11.20.11 at 6:44 pm

Pike is a high-ranking officer, did what he did very deliberately, and seemed very sure of himself. It wasn’t a training problem. It was a discipline problem in that he was presumably confident that at this stage in his career, and given the California justice system and the powerful policemen’s union, it was very unlikely that he would ever suffer any serious consequences.

And paranoid as ever, I’ll speculate that he had encouragement from somewhere or another, and supporters in high places.

45

Uncle Kvetch 11.20.11 at 6:44 pm

Seconding Meredith: thanks for that link, Bill.

46

Antonio Conselheiro 11.20.11 at 6:49 pm

Pike is high-ranking and he seemed very self-assured. It has to have been a deliberate provocation, not a training deficiency or misunderstanding of instructions. He must have reasons for feeling confident that he will suffer no serious consequences.

47

Antonio Conselheiro 11.20.11 at 6:52 pm

Woops, Already said that here. Wrong thread.

48

bert 11.20.11 at 6:56 pm

But platonist, you were picking up on Andrew@11, and that wasn’t Andrew’s point. He was attempting to parse some kind of distinction between non-violent and passive resistance, the fine gradations of which he would doubtless give you on request. Someone upthread described his style as “fake judiciousness”, which sounds exactly right. His transmissions from Uranus are a regular feature here, and generally he’s best ignored. Although if you find yourself with a minute to kill, poking him with a stick can be amusing. He never drops out of character.

49

bert 11.20.11 at 7:09 pm

Forgive me, I read your response to Rich, not your response to Yarrow. I see that you are making the same distinction, but unlike Andrew you aren’t using it to take the side of the police.

50

Barry 11.20.11 at 7:15 pm

I’m skipping to the end, so please forgive me if this has been covered:

Andrew F: “Generally, use of force guidelines would likely prohibit an officer from using pepper spray against an individual exhibiting merely passive resistance.”

Has there been a comment thread on CT in which Andrew F was not a right-wing BS artist/concern troll? I’m asking seriously. I’ve seen even McMegan have a spark of humanity on occasion, but I don’t recall Andrew displaying this.

51

Henri Vieuxtemps 11.20.11 at 7:20 pm

My point was that the distinction between passive and non-passive resistance is a meaningful one

Could this get any more ludicrous? What about the distinction of performing a pas de trois, as you’re being hit in the face?

52

Barry Freed 11.20.11 at 7:34 pm

It’s now no longer a twitter rumor but being widely reported that two officers involved in the pepper-spraying brutality have been placed on administrative leave. No doubt the ensuing whitewash investigation will finely parse whether the officer’s actions were warranted based upon whether the protestor’s resistance was passive or non-passive.

53

J— 11.20.11 at 7:35 pm

All just a big misunderstanding. Pike thought it was a can of bear spray and the people, Golden Bears from big rival UC-Berkeley. Go Aggies!

54

Platonist 11.20.11 at 7:49 pm

Henri, I have no idea what you find ridiculous. Here are the key views I’ve expressed:
1. The protesters actions were good
2. The police’s actions were bad
3. There is a difference between allowing yourself to be arrested and standing your ground peacefully.
4. There are probably good reasons for OWS to prefer standing their ground, since allowing yourself to be arrested symbolizes a superficial political critique of the system.
5. Therefore it’s useful *in support of* the protesters to acknowledge the difference between passive and non-passive forms of non-violent resistance.

Which of these views is ludicrous and why?

55

Henri Vieuxtemps 11.20.11 at 8:25 pm

I dunno, breaking it down to elementary moves, as if it’s some elaborate game or performance or something. I feel even the distinction between ‘violent’ and ‘non-violent’ is rather meaningless: after all, everybody is entitled to self defense. Let lawyers argue fine points, after the fact.

56

John Quiggin 11.20.11 at 8:26 pm

I just wanted to mention that, a couple of posts back, I asked people not to respond to Andrew F, and various commenters suggested he had been hard done by. If any of them happens to be reading this, or any of the other recent posts on which Andrew F has commented, perhaps they will got the point.

I hasten to add that I’m not inviting discussion of CT comment policies here. I’d just emphasise that any assumption of good faith on AFs part is misplaced and that any response to him (maybe including this one) is unwise.

57

Henry 11.20.11 at 8:49 pm

Hi John – sorry, you are right – I had read your comment hurriedly, and thought the bit you were quoting was from Kelman and Rauchway, whose entire post is, I think, understated in just this way.

58

Downpuppy 11.20.11 at 9:37 pm

I don’t understand the history of how campus security became fully armed police. It’s hard enough to control a police force under an elected mayor & council, but where they’re the personal army of an autocratic chancellor and despise the students and faculty they’re supposed to protect?

Penn State is the other, equally ugly, face of this mistaken grant of power.

59

Meredith 11.20.11 at 10:26 pm

Downpuppy, yes. I especially worry about armed campus police (guns, pepper spray, tasers) because I doubt most of them get the training regular municipal or state police officers get (inadequate as even that may often be). For instance, if the campus police at the state college near me become armed with guns, they’ll be required to get “training” over a “couple of weeks” (some weekend and night classes?). Not exactly a full course at the state’s Police Academy. Nor will they be working day-in and day-out in an environment where, through apprenticeship, they might learn proper use of these weapons. Most of all (and this is the problem with all this militarization of police), they will risk never developing or failing to maintain the ability to handle difficult situations without resort to force but rather through talking (or, when necessary, mild forms of intimidation — like, just wearing a uniform and having all that walkie-talkie kind of gear can be pretty intimidating). Campus police probably spend 90% of any difficult policing they do either dealing with drunk students (sometimes even some fist fights and vandalism) or following up on the wafting scent of cannabis. (For more serious problems, they call in the local police anyway — or are supposed to.)
I think it was on BoingBoing that I read an interview with one of the pepper-sprayed students, who said that, a few days before, he had been chatting in a friendly way with the very police officer who ended up pepper-spraying him. That earlier, friendly exchange could have provided the basis for further conversation (with an opener like, “Please open a path so we can leave without having to step over you,”) if the pepper-spray and billy clubs and tear-gas-projectors-that-look-like-rifles hadn’t been options.
As for class resentments and such: could get interesting. Another Damned Medievalist (alas, would that the world were awash in Medievalists) @44 links to a Chronicle bit. Apparently Pepper Spray Man receives an annual salary of $110,000.

60

Antonio Conselheiro 11.20.11 at 10:34 pm

Adult, you’re a moron. Nobody was objecting to the arrest, it was the pepper spray. And the supposed proletarian I’m supposedly biased against is upper middle class (at $100,000 per), and as an officer he’s management, not labor. And the measures they used were not only not necessary, they may have been illegal and in most places are against policy.

What was your point? You give adults a bad name.

61

MPAVictoria 11.20.11 at 10:45 pm

“I don’t understand the history of how campus security became fully armed police.”
Yeah. Is this kind of thing common in the United States? In Canada campus secruity services are more like security guards. They don’t normally carry firearms.

62

Tim Wilkinson 11.20.11 at 10:50 pm

Antonio Conselheiro: Pike is high-ranking and he seemed very self-assured. It has to have been a deliberate provocation, not a training deficiency or misunderstanding of instructions. He must have reasons for feeling confident that he will suffer no serious consequences.

Yes. And of those caught on video performing the most obviously malicious (unprovoked, calculated and furtive) hit-and-run pepper spray attacks on protestors in NYC, many if not all appear to have been white-shirted senior officers.

And as I think has been pointed out here before, there seems to have been substantial coordination between police depts.

an adult: If the police are told to arrest you

63

Barry 11.20.11 at 11:07 pm

JQ, I apologize for feeding the troll. I’d appreciate it if you and the other CT folks just broomed him out.

64

Barry 11.20.11 at 11:09 pm

Henri Vieuxtemps 11.20.11 at 8:25 pm

” I dunno, breaking it down to elementary moves, as if it’s some elaborate game or performance or something. I feel even the distinction between ‘violent’ and ‘non-violent’ is rather meaningless: after all, everybody is entitled to self defense. Let lawyers argue fine points, after the fact.”

It’s basic fascism-lite. Of course you have the right to protest, but you must do it while weaving Mission Impossible style through the laser maze of what the authorities say you can and can not do, second by second. Oh, we’re not banning free speech……………………………….

65

Gatherdust 11.20.11 at 11:13 pm

I posed this question at Americablog: what are the sources for the police procedures and tactics in crowd response? The cops don’t seem to be acting like their out of control. Nor does it appear that these actions are the result of overreacting lone wolf thugs in uniform. These are calm and disciplined responses by the cops. And the heavy-handed actions by the cops seem consistent with their training.
Forty years ago people excused police brutality in crowd situations as a lack of professional training. Nowadays they got the training and they can be heavy-handed and brutal in a more professional and disciplined way. Lieutenant Pike was trained to spray and walk that way.

Now there’s more than a little naiveté in my question since it’s clear that cops, mayors, and college administrators are coughing up bogus reasons for their aggressive crackdowns. Even taken at face value, the reasons put forward seem to involve relatively minor infractions that hardly justify SWAT teams, tazers, pepper spray, or rubber bullets. If Bloomberg was seriously concerned for poor sanitation he could have simply called in sanitation workers armed with brooms and mops to clean around the protesters if there was serious concern for littering. UC Davis could have handed out recycle bins and pointed instructions about cleaning up after oneself. The many OWS encampments have hardly done anything justifying the use of any force but the use of force on a college campus once again removes the veil and shows us the modern university as a rubber-room factory farm for the next generation of knowledge workers. But that’s another story.

The trumped up rationales are obviously aimed to distract from the real purpose to intimidate protesters and to inflict pain and suffering to underscore the simple point that cops can and will hurt you. It’s a display of power for the sake of power. Intimidation and coercion are awfully unprincipled ways to get compliance, however common or routine they’ve been.

But what are the sources for these police procedures? I’m not familiar enough with the kind of criminology that could scrutinize the source of these kinds of social control procedures. But I got a feeling that there’s a parallel universe in criminal justice that has built an impressive library of applied psychology and sociology that either informs enforcement tactics and actions. There’s theory behind their practice. These people have been trained to view any situation and any resistance as tantamount to an armed attack, justifying pain. That’s scarier than viewing the cops as bullies or thugs. They’re sanctioned and trained bullies but don’t require malicious motives to energize their actions.

66

Barry 11.20.11 at 11:15 pm

And if any police officer decides ‘f*ck the rules, I want blood’, then they’re above question – after all, they’re the professionals, they can do what they want, and plead necessity. Amateurs are always accountable for not doing the right thing under stress. Professionals get a free pass.

67

Gatherdust 11.20.11 at 11:30 pm

I asked and I’ve received:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/bob-ostertag/uc-davis-protest_b_1103039.html

Oh my, here’s a real wtf moment:

“…regulations prohibit the use of pepper spray on inmates in all circumstances other than the immediate threat of violence. If a prisoner is seated, by definition the use of pepper spray is prohibited. “

and here’s the answer I feared:

“former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper published an essay arguing that the current epidemic of police brutality is a reflection of the militarization (his word, not mine) of our urban police forces, the result of years of the “war on drugs” and the “war on terror. Stamper was chief of police during the World Trade Organization protests in Seattle in 1999, and is not a voice that can be easily dismissed.”

68

Rich Puchalsky 11.20.11 at 11:31 pm

Gatherdust, the evolution of police force philosophies was similar what happened when Bush was succeeded by Obama. There used to be old-style, let’s break heads to show them who’s boss policing types. They were succeeded by new, technocratic styles of policing that use educated officers and advanced policing theories to break heads in a new, much more sophisticated way.

Old-style thugs like Bull Conner used fire hoses on people. The new, more professional police would use fire hoses on people and explain that it was necessary for sanitation.

69

Michael 11.20.11 at 11:40 pm

Just to note that the forms of non-violent protest / confrontation which have become part of the political culture of India, a place born in such protest, can feel very threatening, something like mob rule, but without actual physical attack. It can feel as if the concentrated psychic rays of rejection and dislike are focused on their object. You can see some of this when the students at Davis, so very intelligently and effectively, began chanting ‘shame on you’ as the police backed uncertainly and fearfully away. In this respect the question of relative legality, of different forms of non-violence, passive or active, gives way before moral force, both of whose terms, ‘moral’ and ‘force’, are present. One element in that moral force is something relatively new, namely that the ‘moral’ part of it is acted out by occupiers through their creation of a more or less working community on the spot, based on first principles, sometimes including first principles of how we treat the planet. In the medium term the stultified and sclerotic erections of power will have to give way to some degree, perhaps to a significant degree, in the face of that moral imagination.

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Gatherdust 11.20.11 at 11:42 pm

It’s those “advanced policing theories” that I’m interested in. They predate Bush and the war on terror. They’re clearly associated with the war on drugs. I know they involve injecting a hell of a lot of militarism in policing. And one of the fears I’ve longed had about the fiasco of Iraq was that it would routinize the kind of courtesies displayed by the U.S. military and which were visited upon the Iraqis. Who or what is writing the rules of engagement used by local law enforcement and what is the source of the knowledge used to explain and justify these rules.

71

Harold 11.20.11 at 11:58 pm

Acutely painful chemical sprays would seem to be cruel and unusual, by definition.

72

Doctor Memory 11.21.11 at 12:05 am

Gatherdust: you will probably find this article and the sources it links to illuminating:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/11/standard-police-procedure/248776/

Short form: the fact that our police forces are widely stocked with ex-military is part of it, but this is a storm that’s been gathering internally since the WTO protests and prior to that the anti-logging protests by Earth First! and related groups in the pacific northwest.

73

Gatherdust 11.21.11 at 12:07 am

Under what nefarious circumstances – on a college campus but perhaps anywhere – would you find people locking their arms together such that twisting them would be necessary and appropriate?

74

Gatherdust 11.21.11 at 12:34 am

I think Ta-Nehisi Coates catches the consistency between Moskos and the Baltimore cop who thinks even minimal resistance to arrest can justify baton strikes. The more I think about this the more I’m wondering ‘why force’ rather than ‘when to use force.’ As someone commented above, OWS should put DHS in it’s portfolio of problems.

Much of police work is social work which is about many things but more in the direction of conflict resolution and not brute rule enforcement. Peter Moskos operates from a theory of policing where things still remain black and white so that its always a matter of when to use force. It answers my question – Moskos is doing police theory. But something is still off. I’m thinking rustily of Peter Manning’s research on policing where it seems the issue was more about how routine situations were negotiated, where interaction didn’t revolve around the trigger to use force or not. Still Moskos isn’t the kind of police theory that these cops have been trained in.

75

cian 11.21.11 at 12:41 am

Old-style thugs like Bull Conner used fire hoses on people. The new, more professional police would use fire hoses on people and explain that it was necessary for sanitation.

Actually they’d do it in the way to inflict maximum pain; possibly using techniques researched at our fine universities.

The way this is done was brutal, but I’m guessing most people here realise far worse than this happens all the time to black teenagers in the hood. Which doesn’t justify it (despite the misname “adult”‘s apparent claims otherwise), but this was always inevitable. I’m actually surprised we’ve not seen worse – I guess all those cameras have some affect.

The most interesting thing here is how the students responded afterwards. The “shame on you” stuff, followed by the silent vigil outside the VC’s office. That’s impressive stuff. I honestly never thought the university protests would amount to much. Its nice to be proven wrong.

76

cian 11.21.11 at 12:44 am

As someone commented above, OWS should put DHS in it’s portfolio of problems.

They apparently are starting to. Some of the people involved in OWS have been campaigning on these issues for years, so I would guess there’s already quite a bit of knowledge to be tapped there. And even before Zucotti, in New York they were linking up with the protests against police brutality.

77

dilbert dogbert 11.21.11 at 1:21 am

The pepper spraying brought an image to mind of the Chinese and Japanese executions in the WW2 era. The kids are producing theater so make it good theater. In the newsreels of the Chinese I think the victim is kneeling with hands tied behind with some sign board tied on a board attached. An officer walks up and shoots them in the back of the head. The kids should copy that. In the Japanese case the victim is kneeling with neck exposed as the soldier whacks the head off. Not sure that would make good theater.
The other image that came to mind was of German newsreel footage of people, Jews and other undesirables, being shot, some naked and some clothed who fall into a pit. The uniforms of the German and American officers, soldiers, are surprisingly similar.

78

G. McThornbody 11.21.11 at 2:55 am

Don’t trust the mainstream media or the internet for that matter. Here’s the real report.

“Updated! – Katehi Press conference held, Rauchway comments.

A police squad at UC Davis surrounded itself and then became trapped by students near the campus quad on the 18th after being called in to perform tent safety inspections. The video below shows Officer Lt. Pike stepping over a wall of students and then suddenly realizing he is still trapped by the wall of students.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmJmmnMkuEM

Chief of Police Annette Spicuzza noted that even though untrained civilians were upset at the use of so-called “pepper spray,” what they really saw was the standard use of Freedom Spritzer, a harmless and natural organic deterrent used only to defend police officers from imminent danger.

“I was completely surrounded with no way of escape,” Pike wrote later in his police report. “I followed standard procedures in leading my men to safety. Freedom Spritzer was our only option at that point.”

The officers managed to regroup and escape without injuries. Spicuzza showed signs of relief in a press conference that evening. “We train our officers for years to handle situations like finding their way out of a circle. It’s possible to become cut off from your support and get hopelessly lost. It’s basically a war in there, a war between classes, where you have math on one side of the quad and socialism studies on the other. It’s a life threatening situation, not to mention an unsanitary one.”

In the same press conference, Chancellor Linda Katehi reiterated that UC Davis should be “a place of inquiry, debate, and even dissent,” and is already backing that claim. Speaking on behalf of a newly formed investigative committee, Katehi promised that, “an inquiry into the rampant student violence is forthcoming, we will debate what to do, and if you disagree with us we will proudly dissent. We will not tolerate students kidnapping campus peacekeepers.”

Katehi also expressed concern over a leg disability epidemic that also seems to be affecting the student population. “A lot of people are having trouble standing upright and walking, and it is going to severely cut into the university budget if we have to install extensive handicap access over every square foot of campus. If this continues, we will comply with burdensome federal handicap regulations, which means a tuition hike for all students, crippled or not.”

After the press conference, Katehi graciously provided a walking demonstration to groups of stricken students.

“It is important to present accurate information and encourage educated debates about history,” says Eric Rauchway, a UC Davis professor who witnessed students holding police officers hostage. “I’m positive that through honest discourse everyone will come to respect the leadership and credibility of Chancellor Katehi and the police officers who work so hard to improve the quality of our lives.”"

79

Phil 11.21.11 at 2:56 am

I notice that Linda Katehi graduated from the National Technical University of Athens in 77 which means she was a student there in 73 (it takes at least 5 years to get a degree there). This is the year when the students barricaded themselves in the NTUA to protest and start a popular uprising against the military junta. The military invaded the university with tanks and killed 28 students.

I wonder how someone who was part of that generation could later be authorising police action against the students of her university. Unless of course she had been a junta supporter in her youth, which wouldn’t be surprising.

80

Tony Lynch 11.21.11 at 3:10 am

Andrew F – Contrarian For Power.

81

8 11.21.11 at 4:01 am

“It is important to present accurate information and encourage educated debates about history

golly. Stanford U neo=con squeaks on History, and the proper way to study it.

82

Meredith 11.21.11 at 4:08 am

Wow. At WaPo no less (in the Styles section — but maybe more people read that, anyway):

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/uc-davis-pepper-spraying-raises-questions-about-role-of-police/2011/11/20/gIQAOr8dfN_story.html?tid=pm_lifestyle_pop&sub=AR

Still waiting for a hard copy NYT report (even the online Lede blog story that has gotten buried) — the paper of record hasn’t yet deemed the UCDavis story newsworthy. Perhaps tomorrow morning I’ll find a story in the sports section or something (where they’ve put their Penn State scandal coverage).

No time for snark, though. This WaPo article is excellent.

83

Another Damned Medievalist 11.21.11 at 4:24 am

Re campus police rather than security: I am pretty sure that the UC police when I was an undergrad were actual police (they definitely are now). Given that the university population was about 2/3 the size of the closest town, and that was unincorporated county, so there were only sheriffs to patrol, I think it made sense for the university to foot the bill for a real police presence (violent crimes against women were not all that uncommon, especially when tens of thousands of outsiders came to town for big events).

Grad U also had a professional police force, and several of the members also served as instructors for the local Metropolis’ police academy. Knowing that there were actual cops on campus made me feel safer. I waited tables locally (even then, full fellowships were not enough to live on), and got to know some of them. Unlike what we have seen at Penn State some 20 years later, the Grad U police didn’t consider themselves an arm of the institution; instead, they actively encouraged the people they got to know, especially grad students and faculty, to convince the campus community to come to them first — especially in cases of sexual assault — rather than going to Res Life or any administrative office, because they wanted crimes treated as crimes.

I’m now at a SLAC with security. They do not make me feel safe. They are badly paid and answer to administrators who are often more worried about the school’s reputation. I’m honestly not sure it’s the problem of “police force” vs. “security guards” per se. I think it’s much more to do with the changing nature of policing in general.

84

Meredith 11.21.11 at 4:49 am

Phil@82. I’ve been wondering about her personal history along those lines. That hard, bitter neighborhood in which the U. of Athens was once located. (No longer — it’s off in more bucolic suburbs now, or the departments I know about are — new campus, by design, no doubt.) If we’re generous here, she (and this is a SHE, in Greece of the 70′s, no less, studying engineering, no less — let’s give her some space and some credit here!), I suspect Katehi may have been led astray in the forest of 80′s and 90′s and aught’s academic-bureaucratic-plutocratic group-think. Have not nearly all of us, to some degree at least, if we are honest?

I may be jumping the gun. I’m not ready yet to weep for some fallen university chancellor about whom I know so little. Just some thoughts.

85

Rich Puchalsky 11.21.11 at 5:05 am

Gatherdust, I don’t really know much about this, but I remember that a good number of abuses at Abu Ghraib were convincingly linked to soldiers who’d learned them as civilian police and prison guards. And, of course, the torture techniques they learned in the Army are going to come back home with them from Iraq. All of the euphemisms about “pain compliance” really are about the same kind of thing as when people said the infliction of pain wasn’t torture unless there was organ failure.

So concerns about the training of the military as torturers go back a step to the militarization of police for the drug war. But the drug war itself could not exist unless it had started out as a means of implicit racial control after the Civil Rights movement made more explicit means untenable. And, of course, before then, police force was openly used to keep poor people and black people in line.

So I really don’t think that there has been any basic change. The justifications have changed, and, in part, the technology, but American policing hasn’t changed its basic form.

86

js. 11.21.11 at 5:36 am

Here’s a link to the Norm Stamper article mentioned by Gatherdust above:

http://www.thenation.com/article/164501/paramilitary-policing-seattle-occupy-wall-street

Very well worth reading.

87

js. 11.21.11 at 5:41 am

So concerns about the training of the military as torturers go back a step to the militarization of police for the drug war. But the drug war itself could not exist unless it had started out as a means of implicit racial control after the Civil Rights movement made more explicit means untenable. And, of course, before then, police force was openly used to keep poor people and black people in line.

I think this is exactly right.

88

Meredith 11.21.11 at 5:42 am

Gatherdust (inspired to include this low-level research by Rich P. — and by my Latin 101 students, ardent in a review session tonight to understand weird things, like the double dative and opus est, their yearnings so sweet):

Gatherdust@67 suggests what seems to me a really good question: what are the institutional frameworks for policy training, state by state and across the states? Do the states coordinate with one another, perhaps assisted by federal agencies, and to what extent?
You find some curious/weird things when you google “massachusetts police academy”:
http://jointhepoliceacademy.com/?id=PAN-aa-&gclid=CNbhp6XPxqwCFUbf4AodLBexpg
=the same site when you google “california police academy”:
http://www.jointhepoliceacademy.com/?id=PA-ca-ad1&gclid=CKDA86bQxqwCFU1x5Qodkgggsw

More to the point, re California:
http://www.ehow.com/how_4424989_apply-police-academy-california.html

As in California, so here in MA, “the police academy” is no longer one school but numerous training centers, for basic training as well as for refresher courses or for getting trained in new areas. Here an interesting set of one-day seminars coming up soon at various training centers in MA, from “Emotional Survival for Police Officers” to “FBI – Officer Safety and Survival Training:
http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=eopsterminal&L=6&L0=Home&L1=Funding+%26+Training+Opportunities&L2=Law+Enforcement&L3=Training+and+Courses&L4=Municipal+Police+Training+Committee&L5=Chiefs+Corner&sid=Eeops&b=terminalcontent&f=mptc_exectutive_chiefs_seminar_series&csid=Eeops

Btw, in MA (and probably everywhere), different kinds of police seem to receive at least somewhat different kinds of basic training, not surprisingly. Prison guards vs. police officers vs. detectives vs. state police. Law enforcement training is clearly a vast and intricate world. There must be some basic, good sources on the subject (probably written by humanistic sociologists).

Meanwhile, from the Wikipedia article on “Police Academies,” United States:
“Police academies exist in every state and at the federal level. Each state has an agency which certifies police academies and their programs. Most states have minimum physical and academic standards for cadets to achieve before they can enter an academy and graduate. There may be additional or higher standards required for later certification as a police officer. While some states allow open enrollment in police academies, many require cadets to be hired by a police department in order to attend. Departments and/or state certifying agencies may also require individuals to pass background checks, psychological evaluations, polygraph exams, drug screenings and qualify with a firearm and demonstrate driving skills, as conditions of employment/certification.”

The following article suggest ways the federal government can get involved, simply by giving financial support to post-academy training programs:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police_training_officer

The FBI and DHS must be playing a big role these days in providing or financing some of this training.

89

js. 11.21.11 at 5:58 am

Meredith @85:

I don’t know—it’s certainly good that the Post is reporting on this (if only in the Style section), but that article seems remarkably restrained and also naive in some ways. Just for instance, this thread rightly puts the lie to this sort of nonsense:

University police generally operate under a more benignly paternalistic understanding of the law than other police. They are there to ensure the safety of the students, to help with the messier details of the in loco parentis function of the university.

Nevertheless, it is true that it’s holding out for the right thing. And the author does seem genuinely shocked.

90

Ray 11.21.11 at 6:51 am

From Athens News, 28 February 2011, an interview with Linda Katehi

“Are you following the economic events in Greece?

Both my husband and I have family and friends in Greece and we own property there, too.

I might be reading too much into it, but wouldn’t a normal person with normal empathy and sound judgment simply say: “Both my husband and I have family and friends in Greece”?

What sort of person feels the need to bring up the fact they they own property, in that context? The sort who sics the cops onto a bunch of kids, perhaps? Or is that too long a bow?

91

Elias 11.21.11 at 7:56 am

http://peppersprayingcop.tumblr.com/

Got a laugh out of that.

92

Bill Benzon 11.21.11 at 10:37 am

Meredith @87: …in the forest of 80’s and 90’s and aught’s academic-bureaucratic-plutocratic group-think…

At Arcade, Roland Greene on Silence of the Presidents:

Katehi, Birgeneau, and former Penn State President Graham Spanier (as well as UC President Mark Yudof) have at least one thing in common: they belong to the class of professional administrators who have largely taken over public (and many private) American universities in the past twenty years.

Whatever they might have been earlier in their careers (in most cases, highly distinguished professors), these people are no longer really educators, scholars, or citizens of their communities. They are the hired agents of corporatized governing boards, moving from one university to another in search of some grail of ambition. It’s not uncommon for presidents and chancellors to have held senior administrative positions at three, four, or five institutions. As far as I can tell, the four leaders mentioned above have had, among the lot of them, senior administrative roles at 14 universities in the U.S. and Canada. (Spanier’s 16 years as president of Penn State was a long tenure, but it was his fourth high-level administrative job.) Having been everywhere, in another sense these people belong nowhere. They have been hired for certain things at which they excel: fundraising, cultivating outside constituencies, dreaming up new names for declining fortunes (this Partnership or that Compact), and remaking the “brands” of their campuses.

Sounds a bit like complaints that large businesses are no longer run by excutives who’ve come up though the ranks and actually know something about the business, whether it be automobile manufacture, packaged foods, package deliver, or what. Instead, they’re run by a class of professional managers who know about management and about $$$$,

93

Bill Benzon 11.21.11 at 10:42 am

@Elias, @93: wonderful link.

94

J— 11.21.11 at 2:30 pm

http://peppersprayingcop.tumblr.com/

Ha!

Congratulations, Lt., Pike, you are fast becoming an Internet Tradition.

95

Salient 11.21.11 at 2:54 pm

Having been everywhere, in another sense these people belong nowhere. They have been hired for certain things at which they excel: fundraising, cultivating outside constituencies, dreaming up new names for declining fortunes (this Partnership or that Compact), and remaking the “brands” of their campuses.

They have been hired to schmooze with people with enough money to be worth schmoozing with, and tend to take in many many times their own salary in courted donations.

wouldn’t a normal person with normal empathy and sound judgment simply say: “Both my husband and I have family and friends in Greece”?

Nah, not necessarily, especially when discussing ‘economic events’ as the value of property might vary more drastically with economic policy change than the value of a friendship. (It really isn’t a show of empathy to mention concern for one’s own friends and family; empathy’s caring about suffering persons as suffering persons, regardless of their relationship to you.) Her statement seems reasonable enough to me anyway; expressing concern for everybody probably would’ve come across as high-handed speechifying.

What’s much more important is that (1) she has acknowledged the context in which the students were pepper sprayed was nonviolent and that neither officers nor civilians of any kind were in danger of harm from the protestors; (2) she has accepted full responsibility for the incident; (3) she has firmly asserted her decision to not resign.

May this statement of hers, please, be prominently featured in any summary or roundup of the administration reaction?

This video is horrible. It really shows a face for the university that we don’t have.

Indeed, those horrible documenteers, showing a face for UC-Davis that doesn’t exist. I realize that’s a bit of a misreading, but c’mon, in the very sentence in which she’s trying to express sympathy for the victims she makes a PR spin move.

96

an adult 11.21.11 at 3:09 pm

Bill it did not begin 20 years ago it began in the 70s just as “Reaganomics” did not begin with Reagan but with Carter. If you chart academic and administrative salaries going back 40 years you’ll see when it starts. Also years before the rise of adjuncts there was movement away from tenure and towards maintaining a stream of replaceable assistant professors .

97

bianca steele 11.21.11 at 3:21 pm

Bill Benzon @ 97
Indeed, you might say it’s almost as if it was believed you had to take special university courses in management in order to be a good manager. Or, you might say it’s almost as if it was believed that only membership in a group of people who think like finance guys fitted one for leadership–past experience to the contrary.

98

bianca steele 11.21.11 at 3:54 pm

Though it also sounds a little like a right-wing, conservative complaint about creative writing programs. Maybe examples could be multiplied. I don’t know what that exercise would prove, though.

99

William Timberman 11.21.11 at 4:07 pm

Coming on the heels of Brad DeLong’s and Paul Krugman’s defense of technocrats today, Roland Greene’s The Silence of the Presidents gives me chills. (Thanks for the link, BB.) No doubt indulging in such seemingly arbitrary juxtapositions here could be considered off-topic, irrelevant, etc., but I think they’re essential.

To Krugman and DeLong, decent souls that they are, Jean-Claude Trichet may be an ideologue or a romantic, but I think of him — and of Chancellor Katehi — as symptoms of what may very well be a terminal disease. With all due respect to the defenders of technocratic honor, technocracy is as good a name for this disease as any. No doubt some technocrats serve gods other than Mars or Mammon, and still manage to survive and be heard, but the majority attach themselves to the largest shark, and celebrate that attachment as precisely the distinction which gives them the right to dispose of us as their bosses see fit.

Defending that cozy corner in the universe is not the same thing as defending a rational approach to the problems which confront us. Not by a long shot.

100

Gatherdust 11.21.11 at 4:51 pm

It strikes me as I look at the wealth of stuff people are writing about the police response to UC Davis and OWS generally that we’re living in separate universes. It seems as if some are broadly talking political and social theory and while others are technocrats from management science protecting their organizational assets. And they’re letting their spray bottles and batons do the talking for them.

101

nick s 11.21.11 at 5:23 pm

one of the fears I’ve longed had about the fiasco of Iraq was that it would routinize the kind of courtesies displayed by the U.S. military and which were visited upon the Iraqis.

I think it’s fairly obvious that for the next couple of decades, at very least, you’re going to see lots of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan end up in police and security jobs — not least because they receive preferential treatment on applications. But it’s worth remembering that the worst (convicted) offender at Abu Ghraib was a reservist who’d spent most of the previous decade as a prison officer, so it’s not a one-way street.

The other point: there is a large, vocal section of the American public that actively supports the use of state violence against those protesting left-wing causes. It was there during the Civil Rights protests, it stood up for the Kent State shooters, and it’s here today.

102

cian 11.21.11 at 5:30 pm

Well for those who haven’t seen it, the video of the Army Ranger who was savagely beaten by the police in Oakland has surfaced:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2011/nov/18/occupy-oakland-veteran-beaten-police-video

So it goes both ways. I find that line of police in that video incredibly creepy. I mean I’m not unused to riot police, but that line, and the way they’re chanting, is like something out of a dysotopian nightmare.

103

Bill Benzon 11.21.11 at 5:53 pm

NYTimes reports that UCDavice police chief, Annette Spicuzza, has been placed on leave. UC president Yudof calls for meeting where

10 chancellors to discuss “how to ensure proportional law enforcement response to nonviolent protest.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/22/us/police-officers-involved-in-pepper-spraying-placed-on-leave.html?hp

104

Patrick 11.21.11 at 7:47 pm

As to police on campus: At Iowa, where I teach, the police are armed. When they were armed (with the support of our president), I predicted that, sooner or later, there will be an incident where a completely innocent student dies of a gunshot that goes through a dorm wall. I stand by that prediction.

What I find truly alarming, though, is that I’m told both police and security guards routinely patrol the dorms, including the student halls. I try to image a University Michigan police officer getting away with patrolling West Quad in 1971/72, knocking on doors and busting potheads, and I cannot, cannot do it. My students don’t find this surveillance particularly disturbing. It makes me sick to my stomach.

It’s weird though. I was just at a meeting of a coalition of university folk tasked with curbing violence on campus, especially sexual assault. The police rep to that coalition strikes me as knowledgable and supportive in ways that a youngish male officer would never have been 40 years ago. Fire some; keep others; educate them all.

105

Gatherdust 11.21.11 at 7:52 pm

nick@106: the reservists at Abu Ghraib implemented interrogation practices commonly used by intelligence agents. In other words, it was SOP.

The incorporation of military style get and fetch stuff where soldiers knock down doors and round up households, all the while scaring the shit out everyone, I suspect will come about not because of vets on the force but that these practices get imported into SOP by security professionals. Professionalism doesn’t require or permit public oversight. That’s why they’re professionals.

106

mw 11.21.11 at 8:40 pm

Have you ever read the comments on Reason’s blog posts, mw? Sure, they kept Radley Balko around for a while as the token civil liberties guy.

Balko was hardly the only writer on civil liberties and police abuses at Reason. Even if you leave out every Balko story, the number of entries on Reason about police abuse outnumbers those on CT by a factor of at least 10 and maybe as much as 100:1. Try searching the site for ‘Swat Raids’ and ‘Matt Welch’ and you get 323 results:

http://reason.com/search?cx=000107342346889757597%3Ascm_knrboh8&cof=FORID%3A11&ie=UTF-8&q=swat+raids+%22matt+welch%22&sa=Search

For ‘SWAT Raids’ and ‘Brian Doherty’ you get 272 results:

http://reason.com/search?cx=000107342346889757597%3Ascm_knrboh8&cof=FORID%3A11&ie=UTF-8&q=swat+raids+%22brian+doherty%22&sa=Search

On CT, you get 3 results for SWAT raids — all of which are links to Radley Balko:

http://crookedtimber.org/?s=SWAT+raids

Reason covers that stuff constantly — Balko or no Balko, while at CT, it’s only once-in-a-while.

And the number of posts about abusive, authoritarian university administrations? Fairly common on Reason:

http://reason.com/search?cx=000107342346889757597%3Ascm_knrboh8&cof=FORID%3A11&ie=UTF-8&q=FIRE+campus&sa=Search

Has that sentiment ever appeared on CT before?

As for the comments — yes there are trolls everywhere, but also people giving them hell for their trolling (Reason doesn’t moderate, delete, ban or ‘disemvowel’ comments).

107

nick s 11.21.11 at 8:41 pm

True, Gatherdust, but don’t discount the other side of the cycle: the impact of having those SOPs implemented by people who normally carry out their duties behind locked doors in the prison system.

108

cian 11.21.11 at 9:44 pm

yeah Reason are pretty consistent on a couple of things, and one of them is the security state.

109

Meredith 11.21.11 at 11:06 pm

Helpful start on questions raised in several threads here. (I can’t help but note that the tear gas used in Cairo appears to have been made in Pennsylvania.)

http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/21/from-cairo-to-california-controlling-crowds-with-chemicals/

110

ezra abrams 11.21.11 at 11:58 pm

every generation learns the same lesson, that the policeman can be a smiling presence one minute, and a brutish thug the next.
I’m sure if you go back thru the pages of , say, The Nation, you will find the same things over and over again; surely many of you have read Bertrand Russell, who notes what a small and worthless shield tenure is when a professor departs from orthodoxy, or offends the large donors who make the university possible.
I would also note that Yudof, somewhat of a neutral to good guy here, is part of the problem: he is a educational employee who makes, what a half a million dollars a year ??
How is this guy any thing but evil ? he is as bad as the people on wall street who complained that they had to trim their bonuses when their firms were bailed out by tax dollars

111

bcgister 11.22.11 at 1:40 am

I have to agree with dilbert dogbert@ 11.21.11 at 1:21 am.
The image of good Lt. Pike that I could not get out of my head was not of him trotting along a row of aphid infested bushes spraying them with insecticide. Rather, it was of him walking along behind the kneeling protesters, just as casually busting a cap from his 9mm Mauser into the back of each of their skulls. Very NKVD, but not necessarily alien to our elites.
As for Pike’s authorization to use force, Abu Ghraib was, of course, the result of the excesses of a few out of control operatives.

112

Meredith 11.22.11 at 6:15 am

I recommend following the link to Edge of the American West in the post. Comments here (not least my own) have been all over the place — a sign of something really important being tapped. But we can’t let our energies get dissipated. So, to Edge. (I especially recommend the post “Cooler Heads.”)

113

gocart mozart 11.22.11 at 10:00 am

Malaclypse, here is the stated justification for the arrests:
“On Thursday, the group stayed overnight despite repeated reminders by university staff that their encampment violated university policies and they were requested to disperse. On Friday morning, the protestors were provided with a letter explaining university policies and reminding them of the opportunities the university provides for expression. Driven by our concern for the safety and health of the students involved in the protest, as well as other students on our campus, I made the decision not to allow encampments on the Quad during the weekend, when the general campus facilities are locked and the university staff is not widely available to provide support.”

I see, “University Policy!” What LAW did they break?

114

Bill Benzon 11.22.11 at 10:55 am

What LAW did they break?

No law. They were just ‘following orders.’ Getting rid of the vermin.

115

Tim Wilkinson 11.22.11 at 11:16 am

But Capt. Brandon del Pozo of the NYPD would no doubt remind us that police have the opportunity to enforce important norms of social behavior, and not just laws

http://crookedtimber.org/2009/07/23/police-discretion-a-different-perspective/#comment-283176

116

Martin Bento 11.22.11 at 12:00 pm

Does anyone know that black, cross-eyed Republican shill who spouts talking points on MSNBC sometimes? Today, I heard him say something honest for the first time. He said what this video showed was not a pepper spray, but a pepper hose. I think that is accurate and deserves memehood.

The thing that impresses me about the video is that a bunch of students yelling “Shame on You” got heavily-armed police to retreat. I hope that one keeps working.

Regarding Patrick’s point, I get the impression that part of what the camps were about were the younger generation, perhaps partly unconsciously, trying to break out of the culture of fear in which they were raised by cohabiting with homeless people and such – the sort of people they have been raised to fear and stay separate from. There have, of course, been problems. The woman who was raped in Denver, apparently, was actually afraid to get in the tent, but did. Your fear instinct is there for a reason, and sometimes you need to listen to it. But it is hard to separate legitimate fear from paranoia induced by constant media sensationalism around crime and terrorism. I know of no way to learn the difference save by experience, and that is not fully reliable either.

117

Martin Bento 11.22.11 at 12:14 pm

an adult wrote:

” But Reagan’s legacy includes the first militarization of police work with SWAT. Ironic how he and the hippies conspired together to give his yuppie neoliberalism.”

SWAT teams began in the 70′s. There was even a TV show about them, and a popular theme song. I don’t know what you are talking about conspiring with hippies.

Rich wrote:

“But the drug war itself could not exist unless it had started out as a means of implicit racial control after the Civil Rights movement made more explicit means untenable.”

Reagan made his first target the hippies growing pot in Humboldt. That is where the militarization took off. A few years later, the crack epidemic, aided by CIA clients like the Contras, took off, and, at that point, the primary target became minorities. It was much harder for liberals to object to the heavy-handedness, however, because few of them objected when the target was in Humboldt and now the precedents were set.

118

bianca steele 11.22.11 at 2:13 pm

Also @ 97
Read the whole thing. James Fallows is very frequently worth reading but he has spent an awful lot of time in China, and “subject population” was an uncharacteristically unfortunate choice of words.

119

Salient 11.22.11 at 3:13 pm

But Capt. Brandon del Pozo of the NYPD would no doubt remind us that police have the opportunity to enforce important norms of social behavior, and not just laws

Not exactly a fair characterization. If all that officer Pike had done was say, “the whole lot of you are being obstinate jerks about refusing to cooperate with a reasonable request” — or for that matter, if that other officer had pepper sprayed Gates — we’d be in a categorically different situation, at least from my POV. I suppose we shouldn’t re-litigate that whole mess, but Brandon did spend a lot of time afterward clarifying the limitations on what he meant (and in particular that it didn’t apply to the arrest in question, only to the legitimacy of telling someone you think they’re acting like a jerk).

120

Andrew F. 11.22.11 at 3:29 pm

Platonist, I don’t think passive resistance conveys any more legitimacy to the system one may be protesting within, or against, or both, than nonviolent active resistance. In fact I think passive resistance increases the moral force of a protest, and not incidentally its likely political efficacy in a liberal democracy.

Gatherdust, I actually think that an emphasis on the US military’s approach to crowd control in this situation would have produced a more peaceful and pragmatic approach. That may sound counter-intuitive, but let me explain. Apparently – though one cannot tell from the video – the officers were returning from breaking down protesters’ tents and, reportedly, with individuals they had arrested. The line of protesters sat in an effort, reportedly, to block the exit of a police vehicle.

So, apparently, the only mission of the police was to remove the tents, and then to exit with the persons arrested. The objective was not to disperse the crowd. Obviously arresting the line of sitting protesters is confrontational with respect to the crowd, and could raise the probability of additional conflict. My impression is that this would be something a US military unit, in that context, would prefer to avoid. The line of least resistance would be to attempt to go around the sitting protesters, or if that were not possible, to open a dialogue with them and attempt to persuade them to let the vehicle leave. It’s unclear whether either approach was attempted in this incident.

Of course, that the confrontation may have been at the very least imprudent doesn’t get us to the conclusion that it qualifies as excessive force, though the facts may yet show that it does. I don’t know enough, without much more context and information, about the perceptions of a reasonable person in those officers’ shoes, to say whether it was a use of excessive force.

As to certain of the comments by others above, not wishing to rush to judgment on the basis of a short video isn’t the same as defending the police, much less an indication (as claimed in a bit of would-be clairvoyant ad hominem somewhere above) bad faith. Restraint in judgment, when circumstances do not require a judgment immediately and relevant facts are pending, is a virtue. An ability to discuss different perspectives, without resorting to personal attacks, is considered a virtue as well in some corners.

121

Uncle Kvetch 11.22.11 at 4:08 pm

I don’t know enough, without much more context and information, about the perceptions of a reasonable person in those officers’ shoes, to say whether it was a use of excessive force.

The banality of evil.

122

Dragon-King Wangchuck 11.22.11 at 4:31 pm

As to certain of the comments by others above, not wishing to rush to judgment on the basis of a short video isn’t the same as defending the police, much less an indication (as claimed in a bit of would-be clairvoyant ad hominem somewhere above) bad faith.

Yeah. The real victim in the UC Davis pepper spray thing is Andrew F. There are all sorts of reasons why it would be necessary to step over a line of seated protestors and casually spray them with a chemical weapon – causing several to be hospitalized. Lots and lots of perfectly valid reasons. And until every one of those un-named valid reasons has been totally disproven in this case, it is too early to judge. Shame on you for having done so.

123

Rich Puchalsky 11.22.11 at 4:44 pm

We’ve had a lot of comments already about the uselessness of responding to Andrew. Clearly what we need is one of those up-or-down rating systems for comments, except that in addition to giving a comment +1 or -1, you can add yourself as one of the people silently watching the commenter walk by on a Walk of Shame. Perhaps with a little GIF of Katehi.

124

Bernard 11.22.11 at 4:45 pm

Those DFHs are the problem. no questions, there. Authority should always be listened to.
don’t those DFHs know that Police are always right. Never ever question Authority! Father knows best!!!

the stupidity of questioning/ forcing the issue, those DFHs caused the whole thing to happen. and How dare anyone question the UC system for paying Katehi $400,000.00 a year. We need loyal subjects who will obey and enforce what the 1% tells them.

the whole to-do over the “leftist students” trying to dismantle “crony capitalism” is way beyond the norm. The press is just sucking up to the “troublemakers” who won’t listen to what the police want. effing liberal media!!

in America, one must always do what the 1% tell us. that is part of the deal of American Capitalism. what part of this don’t those troublemakers get?

almost makes me proud to be a New World Order American. Follow your “Leader”.
they know what’s best. Just listen to Fox “News” if there is any doubts of the “correct” way to be “American.”

with heroes like Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Obama to lead us we can attain perpetual glory in our struggle to overcome the perfidies of “socialists and their death panels”. We must stop these “kind” at once. So Proud of Katehi, The Greek junta would be proud, too.

of course, irony and sarcasm don’t come as across well sometimes with the written word.

125

cian 11.22.11 at 4:46 pm

Or just kill files.

126

Meredith 11.22.11 at 6:35 pm

For an intelligent and thoughtful attempt to try to imagine Pike’s perspective (to understand it without for a moment condoning it): Conor Friedersdorg on Orwell on shooting an elephant….

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/11/what-george-orwell-can-teach-us-about-ows-and-police-brutality/248797/

127

J— 11.22.11 at 7:17 pm

Clearly what we need is one of those up-or-down rating systems for comments

Pepper spray can pointed up or pepper spray can pointed down.

128

Dragon-King Wangchuck 11.22.11 at 7:44 pm

re: Shooting an Elephant

An interesting article. But “Shooting an Elephant” itself has different connotations now then it did back then. Friedersdorf says that (by his admittedly possibly wrong interpretation of the situation) Pike isn’t a monster and is more like the sahib with the elephant gun. Well, a man who would shoot an elephant today simply for the sake of not getting laughed at – arguably a monster. And not because the loss of an elephant represents a significant loss of capital.

Note again that Friedersdorf picks the beginning part of his embedded video to make the point and I quote:

That’s a kid who is aware of how absurd the escalation and excessive response is making the police look. They couldn’t shoot the kid in the back with a paint ball gun, but neither could they bring themselves to let him win.

The chant the police were being mocked with was “Don’t Shoot Students”. You know what? When confronted with the backs of a bunch of unarmed and seated twenty-somethings chanting “Don’t Shoot Students!” – where you were being shamed for your obvious overreaction – maybe that’s the kind of time when “winning” shouldn’t be the primary consideration. Unless you mean “winning” in a Charlie Sheen type of manner.

I think “monster” in this case refers to a sort of sociopathy, a complete lack of empathy for others. That when we think of Lt. Pike as a monster, we think so because he showed an absolute callous disregard to the protestors as human beings. That he could treat students like a collection of unruly animals (elephants for example). If Pike’s reasoning for casually and repeatedly administering pepper spray to seated unresisting students was “OMG, if I don’t the guys are gonna laugh at me back in the squad room” – then he is still a monster but that metric.

129

Jeff R. 11.22.11 at 7:44 pm

What LAW did they break?
Trespassing? The Quad belongs to the university, doesn’t it, giving them the right to make the policy determining who can or can’t be there under what conditions, no? And people remaining in violation of those policies would in fact be trespassing, right?

Not that the pepper spray was justified, of course, but the arrest itself seems fairly clear.

130

Tim Wilkinson 11.22.11 at 8:23 pm

The elephant-shooting analogy once again recalls Brandon del Pozo and his unmistakably authoritarian, if mostly rather circumspect, remarks about not backing down, face-saving, etc. (E.g. A police strategy of “winning by appearing to lose” emboldens citizens to attempt to get the police to lose in more and more serious matters, including walking away from situations where a person is genuinely guilty of a crime)

To take a random selection of criticism from the hundreds of comments, LizardBreath (http://crookedtimber.org/2009/07/23/police-discretion-a-different-perspective/#comment-284233): When you talk about “control” without making it clear that the assertion of “control” is an illegitimate use of police power where it doesn’t serve a safety or law enforcement function, it’s disturbing.

(Relatedly, it recalls bad arguments based on ‘credibility’, as in the recent ECB thread – the arguments are indeed bad even though it’s been decisively established that the counter-arguments provided are worse…)

Del Pozo’s comments made it clear that he was very much concerned about face-saving.

Note that the Atlantic article makes the reasonable point that sending heavily armed riot police in makes this kind of thing quite likely. The general tendency of the piece, its own protestations notwithstanding, to excuse Pike is misplaced though, as is its under-emphasising the culpability of those who sent in the riot squad. (At the risk of repetitiveness, this is where I point out that there is always enough blame to go round.)

131

Meredith 11.22.11 at 8:29 pm

Dragon-King, I guess I’m less interested in deciding whether to label the individual Pike a “monster” than in understanding what might make someone like him tick — and I’m assuming that there are a lot of people like him, at least most of whom are not monsters, many of whom are actually pretty decent people on the whole. What institutional and social conditions create situations where a basically decent person would behave monstrously in the way Pike did? (Let’s assume he could behave monstrously without being “a monster,” just for the sake of argument at least.)

132

Tim Wilkinson 11.22.11 at 8:35 pm

As for trespass, while I expect it is (rather disgracefully) capable of being a crime in the US, nevertheless since the students presumably initially had licence to be on campus, I’d have thought that at the very least some kind of rescission of permission by the landowner would be necessary before tyhey could become trespassers, and indeed that this would have to be communicated to the students, and they would have to be asked to leave the premises before force could be used to eject them.

And those who were given a dose of the old CBWs were not ejected, nor charged with (or even arrested for?) criminal trespass.

133

Dragon-King Wangchuck 11.22.11 at 9:14 pm

Meredith, fair enough.

There is a whole host of issues at play. As has been recently pointed out, there has been a very disturbing militarization trend re:local policing due to the Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism. This is on top of what was already underway as part of the War on Drugs. We need to keep that in mind when we’re thinking about police forces and the culture and individuals therein.

Even before that, policing was a very tribal profession. The combination of Warrior-Caste guardian role and needing to rely on your partner in life and death situations breeds an elitist self-serving mentality. The Blue Wall of Silence is probably the most blatant manifestation of this.

The guardian role especially excaerbates since, as upholders of the law, it is much easier to portray oneself as “right” and “just” and all others as criminals. So not only is there a very easy Us vs. Them pattern for police to fall into, it’s reinforced by the literal defining of “Us” as “The Law.”

Society’s position about police officers, at least historically, was that the profession demands respect (and not due to fear). There is some utility to that, having co-operation from the public is very useful in maintaining peace and order. Unfortunately this is open to abuse. And abuse it gets quite regularly. Worse still, since society still views policing as an honourable profession, there is almost never any accountability for abuses.

IOW, there are systemic reasons in the design of our adversarial and confrontational model of policing and maintaining peace which lead to abuse – but all abuses are somehow always “a few bad apples” who usually have perfectly acceptable excuses for their bad behaviour. Maybe warranting the docking of ten days of vacation, but hardly ever anything worse. It’s always, most police officers are decent folks who wouldn’t casually point-blank pepper spray seated passive students. It’s never, despite recognizing that casually point-blank pepper spraying seated passive students is wrong – cops never whistleblow or even testify against another Brother-in-Arms.

So yes – there are plenty of reasons why a police officer might start to develop the “monstrous” mentality that other people are not worth giving basic human dignity. Where they might see students as animals. And this does not preclude them also being heroes as well – risking their lives to stop a threat to society. It’s the same übermenschen mentality motivating it.

So the question then becomes – is a person who is motivated by a worldview wherein they represent some sort of superior form of human capable of being a basically decent person, or is their uh, “basic decentness” (I guess) merely coincedental?

134

Dragon-King Wangchuck 11.22.11 at 9:18 pm

At least, in my opini0n anyways.

135

G. McThornbody 11.22.11 at 10:03 pm

The adult here must be the only one reading the news. Honestly.

Officer Pike was simply trying to feed those kids some vegetables with that nutritious spray. It’s similar to a situation in which you throw a ravenous dog a steak in order to distract him from chasing you.

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/11/fox-news-on-uc-davis-pepper-spraying-its-a-food-product-essentially.php

136

Jeff R. 11.22.11 at 11:03 pm

Tim@140:
On Thursday, the group stayed overnight despite repeated reminders by university staff that their encampment violated university policies and they were requested to disperse. On Friday morning, the protestors were provided with a letter explaining university policies and reminding them of the opportunities the university provides for expression. (from 119)

Sounds a lot like communicating the recision and requesting them to leave to me.

And, seriously: you consider it a disgrace that it isn’t legal for random strangers to set up camp in your backyard? This view is both alien and horrific to me.

137

Tim Wilkinson 11.22.11 at 11:14 pm

Sounds a lot like communicating the recision and requesting them to leave to me.

Does it?

you consider it a disgrace that -it isn’t legal for random strangers to set up camp in your backyard- it is a criminal offence to wander onto the ‘wrong’ part of our planet’s surface? fixed.

This view is both alien and horrific to me.

Yeah I’m thinking of making a film about such a legal system, a sci-fi spine-chiller. ‘Kin Americans.

138

Rich Puchalsky 11.23.11 at 1:17 am

I didn’t know that Jeff R’s backyard was the public quad of a university. His family must have donated quite a bit.

139

Jeff R. 11.23.11 at 1:54 am

I believe (from the followup) that I was correct in reading Tim’s dismay as covering all forms of exclusionary land property ownership.

(Also, parsing the sentence correctly makes it clear that it was Tim’s backyard being referenced.)

(Finally, are you really taking the position that university’s public quads should be so public that they don’t have any authority to exclude anyone from them? Even cult recruiters, expelled students, food trucks, neo-nazi ralliers, or military recruiters?)

140

Tim Wilkinson 11.23.11 at 2:16 am

If you want to be pedantic, “Tim’s backyard” does not refer. Balcony, yes, but it’s not land nor owned by me.

all forms of exclusionary land property ownership – no, land-trespass as crime.

are you really taking the position that university’s public quads should be so public that they don’t have any authority to exclude anyone from them? Even cult recruiters, expelled students, food trucks, neo-nazi ralliers, or military recruiters?

Not in virtue of anything I’ve said here, no. Key concepts: criminal offence; trespass (as distinct from other activities which trespassers might engage in).

Further commentary on the issues raised by that aside would be tedious and derailing at this stage, I think.

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J— 11.23.11 at 2:17 am

(Occupy Jeff R.’s Parentheticals!)

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Tim Wilkinson 11.23.11 at 9:13 am

I think you need to specify whom you’re addressing. I’m more than happy to play the part of precocious child running rings around you but only if you’re talking to me in the first place.

Here’s even a bit of juvenilia, suggested by J-’s remark: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oVG4_k7Hbc#t=0m28s (actually this was a bit of a manifesto for Alternative Comedy in the 80s UK, so has its serious side.)

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Andrew F. 11.23.11 at 11:29 am

On Pike’s apparently nonchalant demeanor… one additional thought:

He was a Marine for ~4 years, and as part of his training he would have been exposed to a fairly potent form of tear gas (CS) in a closed room and possibly elsewhere. The point of the training is to build confidence in and competence with one’s CW equipment, but it could also have the effect, especially as dialogue within a platoon reshapes the experience retrospectively, of minimizing the effects of the CS. As a police officer, he very likely would have been exposed to pepper spray as part of his training – he would himself have been sprayed with it, and possibly more than once. And this experience too would be subject to the shape retrospective reshaping via dialogue with other members of his unit who went through the same training.

And so while much of the public is shocked by the sight of a line of seated students being sprayed with a yellow cloud of chemicals, Pike and the law enforcement community may see the use of an unpleasant but harmless measure that they may have been taught is preferable to using other forms of physical force.

The law in California with respect to excessive force asks whether a reasonable person, in the same situation and place as the officer in question, would have thought the force used was reasonable. It’s frequently not as easy a question to answer as one might think, and it’s not really possible to answer without additional context. Part of the “wall of silence,” or even support, from the law enforcement community may be indicative not of militarization (a thesis which I dispute, incidentally), but of an awareness of the difficulty of evaluating this type of question on the basis of a video alone.

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Dragon-King Wangchuck 11.23.11 at 8:51 pm

Apologies in advance for continuing to engage Andrew.

And so while much of the public is shocked by the sight of a line of seated students being sprayed with a yellow cloud of chemicals, Pike and the law enforcement community may see the use of an unpleasant but harmless measure that they may have been taught is preferable to using other forms of physical force.

See? This here is what I’m talking about. If Pike and the law enforcement community really think that point blank repeated administrations of pepper-spray is an “unpleasant but harmless measure” – then there is a problem with Pike and the law enforcement community. Aside from the fact that he was deploying it in a manner that the product itself claims as dangerous, people were in actuality hospitalized as a result of the spray. Even if you completely discount any suffering experienced by students who had the temerity to sit down – harm was still done. Thus your “mitigating consideration” is that the police are behaving based on misconceptions that have been demonstrated in this very case to be wrong. Wow, I guess that makes it all better. Anyways, please keep that in mind as we move on to the part that truly aggravates me:

Part of the “wall of silence,” or even support, from the law enforcement community may be indicative not of militarization (a thesis which I dispute, incidentally), but of an awareness of the difficulty of evaluating this type of question on the basis of a video alone.

The “Blue Wall of Silence” is a widespread phenomenon. And frankly, I could not care less if you dispute the effect militarization has on it. What I do care about is that by not speaking out against their fellow officers, police have placed themselves above the law. That’s wrong. You are trying to defend it by telling us that the police know better what constitutes excessive force. That is disgusting. Morally reprehensible. By your own quote – that decision is to be made based on what a reasonable person thinks. But by concealing or abetting in the cover-up, the statement made is that only police can be reasonable persons. It’s not a case of presumption of innocence – it’s a unilateral declaration of such. And given rates of police whistleblowing (i.e. zero) – it’s a unilateral declaration of immunity from the law. Nevermind any possibility of conflict of interest or bias or anything else – the basic idea here is that the only individual who gets to judge what a reasonable person would think of the situation is a police officer. A police officer who (as Andrew pointed out) has a factually incorrect perspective on the potential for harm associated with pepper-spray. And that’s the way Andrew’s thinks it ought to be.

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Tim Wilkinson 11.23.11 at 9:15 pm

Thanks for the political philosophy tutorial and the interesting if rather impressionistic info about city ordinances(?) regarding tents and fires in Central Park.

But this strand of the discussion is about whether the cops had any legal basis for their behaviour, which one might think pretty closely related to excessiveness of the response which is what you with supercilious exasperation @150 told all the naughty children was the real question.

Also: There is no question as to whether the students “broke the rulees” is not the most adult analysis ever is it. What rules? What kind of rules?

And, re: liberals who become anarcchists I suppose fwiw could be called a philosophical anarchist inasmuch as I don’t recognise a sui generis binding moral duty to obey the law or any person. But so far as I can make out you seem to be suggesting that people are ‘anarchists’ because (so you seem to think) they are coming up with self-serving misinterpretations of the law. I don’t know what that’s all about.

I don’t think anyone is ‘missing the point’ – they may though not be dealing with exactly the points you want them to in exactly the way you’d like them to – if that is the problem I suggest you do it yourself.

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Andrew F. 11.24.11 at 2:46 am

Dragon-King, I agree that pepper spray shouldn’t be viewed as harmless. My point is that it may not only be the experience of having been exposed to pepper spray, and similar weapons, but also the reshaping of the experience via dialogue with those in training, which contributes to an underestimation of its effects on others. That point has nothing to do with whether the use of pepper spray was excessive force (it’s completely irrelevant to the excessive force question); it has to do with explaining, in part, Pike’s demeanor in a way that doesn’t require us to grasp for theories about militarization and psychopathy.

As to the difficulty of establishing an excessive force case on the basis of the video clip, you may well find experts, including some who are former police, willing to testify that the force used was unreasonable. But those experts will need to see a lot more than that video.

And, incidentally, I agree that the blue wall is a continuing problem. That you see experts and former police actually voicing doubts about the excessive force claim here isn’t a symptom of that problem, though.

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Martin Bento 11.24.11 at 5:30 am

According to this interview with one of the sprayed students, the chancellor had actually given permission to camp the previous night, but withdrawn it the afternoon of the spraying. Unless the UC Davis rules prohibit setting up tents per se, rather than sleeping in them at night, the students were evidently not yet in violation of the camping rule. They got a letter from the Chancellor requesting that they leave for health and safety reasons. They politely said no. They then got a warning that their tents would be removed. This one was unsigned and not on letterhead, so its official status, and, at the time, perhaps, even authenticity, was questionable. So I don’t think it’s clear that they were even in violation of the rules. I suppose it would depend on the exact wording of the first letter – whether it was, as the student represents it, a request, or more imperative.

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Tim Wilkinson 11.24.11 at 9:07 am

Well this is not getting anywhere, since the insufferably and deludedly didactic ‘an adult’ seems to think there is some undifferentiated thing called ‘the rules’ (perhaps set by an undifferentiated entity called ‘the authorities’), and that if you break them a policeman will come and get you. Which is of course a deeply childish and vulgarly authoritarian view.

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Dragon-King Wangchuck 11.24.11 at 12:05 pm

Andrew,

To clarify, your point was:
“Police may have a different view than the general population of the potential for harm of pepper spray. That may be why they seem so indifferent about it’s use.”

Let me note that, in this case, their view is wrong. Factually incorrect. The actual outcome demonstrates that. The warnings from the pepper spray manufacturer demonstrates that. That even if we were to consider your point as having any merit whatsoever, what it demonstrates is that the police are poor judges of what a reasonable person would consider excessive force.

But it doesn’t matter since you’re wrong. If we accept your view, now that we know the police were wrong about the “harmlessness” of pepper spray in this case, where is the admission of error? Instead we get this ridiculous story of them feeling threatened and surrounded. The official response from the now on-leave police chief is that Pike behaved properly and did nothing wrong. In other words, the hospitalization of students, the medical treatment required, the pain and suffering inflicted, these were intended. These were features, not bugs. That stuff that happened was supposed to happen.

And finally, this is all besides the point. This is a clear and blatant example of excessive use of force. You keep claiming that we shouldn’t be so hasty to judge based on the video evidence. Why not? There is not one single remotely plausible justification you can give for Pike’s actions. Even the ridiculous claim that there were other violent protestors raging just off-camera doesn’t justify it. Did they suddenly disappear once the students gained the upper hand and shamed the cops into leaving? Regardless, it wasn’t those hypothetical protestors that got sprayed.

What we know from the video is that a police officer administered pepper spray to a group of seated, passive, unresisting students. That’s what the video shows. Your position is that there might be some sort of extenuating circumstance, not apparent in the video, which explains why it wasn’t excessive force. Well go ahead then, describe a situation where further incapacitating passive students is justified.

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Eli Rabett 11.24.11 at 12:35 pm

Penn State was the caught in bed with a live boy incident for actual responsibility. The question is will the Cal Davis board of trustees step up and assign responsibility?

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Andrew F. 11.24.11 at 6:00 pm

Dragon-King, my point w/r/t Pike’s previous experiences with pepper spray and similar weapons has zero to do with whether excessive force was used. It is entirely concerned with explaining, in part, Pike’s demeanor, nothing more. There could be other factors; it could be that Pike really doesn’t care; but his prior experiences are a relevant fact, and certainly lend an additional, possible, explanation to his demeanor (nothing more).

As to the actual excessive force question… let’s say that we’re at the point where the officers decided to effect an arrest. We know that ultimately they used pepper spray. Among the facts we’d also want to know would be:

(1) Were alternative, less forceful means attempted? If not, was there a good reason why they were not attempted? We can’t tell from the video.

(2) We’d want to know how many police were available; what the crowd looked like from their position; what happened when they made arrests earlier; how well trained the police at the scene were; what the possible risks were in using direct physical contact without pepper spray; and what the possible risks were in using pepper spray.

After we learn all that, we could well decide that this was an instance of excessive force. The video doesn’t provide us with answers to those questions.

an adult at 158 raises a 9th Circuit decision on a qualified immunity question in a case where police applied pepper spray to several protesters who refused to leave the interior of an office building. The protesters there had used enclosed steel cylinders with grips and rings inside, enabling two persons to place arms inside each end and lock themselves in; previously the police had defeated these devices with an electric grinder, without injury to the protesters.

In deciding whether an official is entitled to qualified immunity, a court would consider the question in the context of the facts as interpreted in the light most favorable to the party opposing qualified immunity – and so the court in that case considered the question of qualified immunity assuming that alternative, much less harmful means were easily available (the police could have easily used an electric grinder to remove the cylinders), and that the protesters were completely controlled and could easily be removed. But none of that, among other things, is clear – yet – in the UC Davis incident.

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Tim Wilkinson 11.24.11 at 6:34 pm

‘an adult’ @163. See #160.

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Dragon-King Wangchuck 11.24.11 at 6:43 pm

Dragon-King, my point w/r/t Pike’s previous experiences with pepper spray and similar weapons has zero to do with whether excessive force was used.

That’s true. Your point was that it’s entirely possible that Pike has become so desensitized to violence and suffering that pepper spraying people is something he can do casually and without remorse. In other words, a monster. Sure, I agree.

In regards to excessive force, you are still the fruitiest loop in the box. Here’s your 1 and 2 addressed:

Previous attempts at removal? There are no indications that any were tried. No one, including the police, has claimed such. From the video, it’s clear that the students were just sitting there quite calmly. If you watched the video at Meredith’s Shooting an Elephant link, you’ll see that hey were joking prior to the incident. Certainly not behaving as if they had recently had to repulse a concerted effort to break their line. Regardless – how does this even remotely justify pepper spray? Unless you’re claiming that in the fictional previous attempt to move the seated students, several police officers were injured – and then everybody calmed down again. Seriously, this is yet another Chewbacca Defense argument on your part. They could have made a million prior attempts – it still does not justify what we see in the video.

How many cops? From the video we see that Pike wasn’t alone. There are at least a dozen of them visible in the video in riot gear and weilding either tear-gas firing guns or batons. Other reports put the number of cops at 35. In other words, Lt. Pike was not, by any stretch of the imagination, alone. And again, what difference does it make? How does that possibly justify hosing down seated and passive protestors with chemical weapons?

Nothing you have suggested justifies what we see in the video. Nothing. Nevermind the fact that there is no evidence for what you’re suggesting (unless Occupy UC Davis has developed invisible steel cylinders) – what you’ve suggested is not relevant.

You are witholding judgement in this case until something becomes clear – what that something is, I don’t know. And it’s becoming very clear that you don’t know either. Seriously, the guy sprayed pepper spray point blank into the faces of seated and unresisting protestors. Repeatedly. Do uou think what you’ve suggested thus far is even remotely a reasonable justification?

You just don’t want the cop to be wrong and will distort reality and grasp at the flimsiest of straws to make it so. That’s why people think of you as a jackboot-licking authoritarian.

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Steve Williams 11.24.11 at 7:11 pm

Andrew F@164

I think your two-point list demonstrates quite accurately the gulf in perceptions here.

(1) Were alternative, less forceful means attempted? If not, was there a good reason why they were not attempted? We can’t tell from the video.

The first question is not relevant. There is no simple ‘force escalator’ that allows the police to move to a more-destructive form of engagement from a less-destructive one. Each case must be judged on the merits of the more-destructive engagement, not on the success or failure of previous efforts at effecting an arrest. To take an extreme example, in a shootout, a police officer is justified in using lethal force. Nobody would suggest using lethal force against unarmed, non-violent protestors. Why? Because the difference between live ammunition and handcuffs is one of kind, not of degree. Somewhere, your imagined force escalator broke down. The difference between handcuffing a suspect, and repeatedly pepper-spraying them in the face, is also a difference of kind, just a less dramatic one. When we accept this, your second question becomes problematic too. If trying to handcuff the protestors wasn’t possible earlier, but using pepper spray is inappropriate, then your second question is only relevant to the question, ‘Should we try handcuffing the protestors, now that the situation is more favorable?’, not ‘Should we pepper-spray the protestors?’

Your next point:

‘(2) We’d want to know how many police were available; what the crowd looked like from their position; what happened when they made arrests earlier; how well trained the police at the scene were; what the possible risks were in using direct physical contact without pepper spray; and what the possible risks were in using pepper spray.’

This is a list of six different questions. The first three are totally irrelevant. The fourth one is of academic interest, in the wider discussion about the quality or otherwise of modern police crowd-control techniques, but tells us little to nothing about what to make of the video (is anyone’s complaint that Lt. Pike ineptly applied the pepper spray?) The fifth question is important to the situation, but tells us nothing about pepper spray (see my first paragraph for why ‘not being able to do A’ does not equal ‘doing B’). The final point is indeed crucial, and DKW already answered it, by pointing out the pepper spray manufacturer’s warnings were unheeded in this case, and the fact that several non-violent protestors were hospitalized is proof that the risks outweighed any possible benefit.

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Salient 11.24.11 at 7:26 pm

you’re still demanding to know how anyone could assume she has the right to give or deny “permission” for anything

You can’t just call the cops and have people on your premises be arrested. You can notify the cops that an individual is trespassing (which is not what happened here) and because trespassing is against the law, the police have the authority to come arrest the trespassers–but not before confirming that due notification to the trespasser has been given and providing the person(s) enough time to safely willfully exit.

Police have no authority whatsoever to enforce corporate policy or university policy as if those policies were laws. None. If no violation of law is occurring, no such violation has occurred, and no such violation is imminently likely to occur, the police–even the university police–have no legitimate authority to intervene.

(You can remove the word ‘legitimate’ in that sentence if you want, without changing what I mean by it.)

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Watson Ladd 11.24.11 at 10:39 pm

Contractual relations rarely permit the use of force. That which is not contractual is law. The officers were acting as private citizens never could, to enforce the law.

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Andrew F. 11.25.11 at 3:34 am

Steve, one of the key questions in an excessive force inquiry is whether the force used was necessary to effect the arrest. An intertwined question is whether the force used was reasonable, in context, to effect the arrest. So whether there were alternative, less forceful means available is quite relevant. I agree with you that a negative answer to the latter question is not sufficient to render the force used justified. But the question is very relevant, particularly when we’re talking about degrees of less than lethal force.

As to the other questions, and I’ll try to respond to Dragon-King’s points in this paragraph too, they all bear on the reasonableness of the use of pepper spray. The number of police officers at the scene and their degree of training would bear both upon whether pepper spray was needed to effect the arrest, and how secure they should have judged their position. What transpired previously to the video footage would bear upon the reasonableness of any judgments the police may have made regarding their need to exit expeditiously, maintain a certain protective posture with respect to the crowd, and, yes, use pepper spray. Obviously the risk of harm posed by available alternative means to effect the arrests, relative to the risk posed by the use of pepper spray, is important to the question of the reasonableness of the force used – perhaps centrally important, in fact. Finally, the risk posed by pepper spray is (we all agree) important, and NOT something that can be answered by a viewing of the video.

Look, any abuse of power by a law enforcement officer is an act several orders of magnitude more concerning and dangerous than any similar act committed by a private individual. I have zero problem with harsh penalties being brought, if the facts ultimately show that the officers involved did abuse their power. What I’m suggesting in listing some of the additional information needed before a good judgment can be made is that we don’t know enough – I’m not mounting a defense for the officers involved.

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Salient 11.25.11 at 4:38 am

Salient They are campus police.

That doesn’t imbue them with authority to enforce policies as if those policies are laws. To be clear: when it comes to arrests,^1^ campus police have fewer rights than ordinary police, not more. Police, whether campus police or not, have no authority whatsoever to arrest someone for violating a campus policy. (There may exist laws, e.g. trespass laws, that would only obtain once an appropriate assertion is received from an authorized agent of the university, e.g. that the individuals are in fact trespassing and have been notified of this. It’s the law, not the campus policy, which campus police are enforcing in those cases.)

Universities are not republics.

I don’t understand what you meant by this, a follow-up clarification is welcome.

^1^Campus police do have various duties and authorities which wouldn’t apply to city cops–most notably, the authority to document violations of campus policy, notify individuals of their violations of campus policy, and communicate the university-sanctioned consequences of those policies, like inability to access one’s school records or even register for classes until a specified forfeiture has been paid. I currently have a couple $30 tickets from campus police for having parked in the wrong place in the evening, and I have been notified that if another violation occurs this semester (which it won’t!) my car will be towed or set on blocks. They have every right to do this, but it’s not any different than a manager at Wendy’s calling a tow truck on a car someone parked and left there; if anything it’s more lenient (tow fines surely exceed $30 considerably). None of that applies to use of force, though.

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Dragon-King Wangchuck 11.25.11 at 4:59 am

We don’t know enough. That’s your pathetic excuse of a response. What more needs to be known? None of the things you have mentioned would change the assessment. We also don’t know if Pike was wearing boxers or briefs. All of this is irrelevant in the face of his actions. He administered a chemical weapon directly on passive targets in a callous and unsafe manner. It’s not like the students were brandishing weapons – in fact, the students weren’t brandishing anything since their arms were locked.

No Andrew. We do not have complete and total knowledge of the events – but in this case we don’t need it.

You keep going back to this idea that something might have happened prior to the start of the video – something that justifies what we see. But there is no such thing. You are asking people to withhold judgement of Pike’s actions because there is some possibility that there are mitigating circumstances not covered in the video. But you can’t even describe what any of these circumstances might be. You can’t invent a scenario where Pike’s actions are not excessive.

Yes, the circumstances are important – the context in which things happened are important – and through it all a presumption of innoncence has to be maintained. But only up to the point where it’s plainly bloody obvious that the dude is totally in the wrong. Such as when he opened up with pepper spray on passive seated people. Or maybe when he did it again. Or – since you seem to want to give the police the benefit of the doubt – the third time ought to have been the charm. And there are NO circumstances or contexts in which Pike’s actions are justified. At the very least, none that I can think of and none that you have mentioned.

I’ll grant that if this were a court of law, a more strict and formal approach has to be taken. But it’s not.

No Andrew. You can’t say “maybe he’s not guilty of excessive force because of something that is beyond our ability to imagine at this time.” That is patently absurd. And until you can imagine up a mitigating circumstance – some additional piece of information – anything at all that is relevant and important enough to justify Pike’s actions, then your pleas to wait for all the evidence are meaningless.

Wait – not quite meaningless. They speak volumes about you and your view of the world. And those volumes are not pleasant reading.

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Salient 11.25.11 at 5:04 am

That which is not contractual is law.

I can’t think of any response to this that wouldn’t consist entirely of question marks.

So whether there were alternative, less forceful means available is quite relevant.

Andrew, this ends now.

The pepper spray did absolutely nothing to help “effect the arrest” and you know it. The kids held on just as tightly, still had to be pried apart; if anything they were all the more committed to solidarity and resistance.

The pepper spray was torture. It had one purpose, and one purpose only: to give Lieutenant Pike pleasure. He enjoyed it. Hurting those kids felt good. He’d enjoy doing it again if they were just hanging out wherever and he had the chance to. He’d enjoy doing it again and again and again, if we let him. He’d enjoy doing other things to hurt those kids, again and again and again, if we let him. He’s a sick monster who needs to be permanently removed from and barred from any position of authority through which he can indulge his sick abuse fantasies.

These are facts that are true about reality. You may choose to not accept them, and there’s not much that can be done to persuade you (we can’t exactly hook Mr. Pike up to an EEG machine and test his response to such a stimulant, after all). But the main reason everybody here is astonished by your response is that we’re clearly in the presence of a monster who enjoys torturing people, and you’re calmly discussing what happened as if the person in that uniform on that day was a rational human being trying to perform his job duties. He wasn’t. He was enjoying a savored chance to abuse and torture human beings (probably human beings that he happens to dislike or disdain).

This is why “whether there were alternative, less forceful means available” is completely, completely irrelevant. Even if there were appropriate procedural alternatives, he would not have bothered with them because he is a monster. You are, in a sense, helping to give him cover for monstrous behavior (I presume unwittingly, out of respect for you). And I doubt I have any ability to persuade you that the dude’s a monster, and that’s ok.

Just, for the love of the good in the world, stop yammering on to us about what a rational police response could have been, would have been, might have been, whatever. This isn’t about rational police response; it’s about a monster having attacked undeserving people, not out of a misguided sense of necessity, but out of delight at the opportunity. And we’re disgusted that the guy holds the position of authority that he does, because he’s exactly the kind of person most likely to abuse it.

The moment where he raises the canister, right before spraying, tells us all this. One second long, 0:07-0:09 in the now-canonical video. You can’t see it. I get that. I am okay with that. But we can see it. We do see it. If you want to call us inappropriate for seeing it, do so. But stop pretending we’re disagreeing over police procedure, and at least acknowledge that pretty much everybody else in the room regards Pike as a twisted person who obviously enjoyed engaging in an act that we all find gravely appalling.

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Salient 11.25.11 at 5:16 am

And yes, there’s some … exaggeration’s not quite the right word… there’s maybe some potentially excessive emphasis in that last comment, for which I might as well apologize upfront. Adjectives used too frequently or too insistently, and such. Sorry.

Pike may have enjoyed the act of spraying those students because he felt nothing but contempt for them. As best I could, I avoided words (like sociopath) that felt like they might inappropriately imply he enjoys hurting people in general, which is far too broad a claim to be supported by what’s in evidence; in fact I happen to think the ‘pepper spray to the face as expression of contempt’ interpretation is the most accurate.

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Lemuel Pitkin 11.25.11 at 5:39 am

I realize it doesn’t advance the conversation much, but I just want to say that Salient’s contributions to this and the other OWS threads have been magnificent.

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Andrew F. 11.25.11 at 2:27 pm

Salient, we’ll just have to agree to disagree about our state of knowledge of Pike’s thoughts and emotions. And I’d never insult someone for having a different perspective – those with different perspectives can be the best sources for widening one’s own. Finally, while (I think we agree) Pike’s personal motivations may be interesting to discuss, they’re irrelevant to the excessive force question.

an adult, I read the case you cited earlier, and responded to it briefly upthread. It does not lend much strength to a plaintiff’s case here.

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fish 11.25.11 at 2:27 pm

All we know of Pike is that he seemed indifferent.

The definition of a monster.

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Salient 11.25.11 at 5:43 pm

You scream in false horror

I’m glad to have conclusive verification that I shouldn’t bother to pay any attention to anything you say from now on. Otherwise I’d have to sort out “it will find answers to your assumptions,” which is a helluva confusing statement.

Salient, we’ll just have to agree to disagree about our state of knowledge of Pike’s thoughts and emotions.

Right, agreed.

Pike’s personal motivations [are] irrelevant to the excessive force question.

No, they’re really not. Maybe it’s better to say there is no excessive force question. When someone engages in physical abuse for pleasure, I don’t care at all about whether they were somehow technically authorized to do so by some higher power or by circumstances or by whatever. In fact we especially don’t want them in a position where they have any legitimate discretion over whether to use force because we cannot trust them to exercise restraint and not indulge.

If they’re a monster, then they need to be shamed out of their position of authority. If they’re a reasonable compassionate person and they exercised discretion horribly poorly, they need to be removed from their position of authority because they have compromised our ability to trust in their judgment. If they’re a reasonable compassionate person and their job duty forced their hand in this, then the people responsible for the job description or duty need to be ceremoniously fired (e.g. the Chancellor) and the description or duty needs to be promptly changed.

The act we witnessed is unacceptable, no matter what. That’s what you’re missing. No matter what context you can suggest, the act we witnessed is unacceptable. I challenge you, Andrew, to describe a plausible hypothetical context scenario in which you feel the act we witnessed would be acceptable (and I invite you to use your own definition of plausible, so long as you don’t say something like “suppose these kids had just been on a murdering spree and Pike had witnessed them kill forty people” or whatever — I trust you to be reasonable).

I propose that you will be unable to do this, because no such context exists, even in your own mind. No matter what the law says. No matter what Pike’s job description says. No matter if he had just spent an hour consulting with the students and legal representatives speaking on their behalf, informing them of escalation procedures to expect and offering alternatives. You say context matters, as if there is any conceivable circumstance or context in which this act could have been acceptable. There is not. No such circumstance or context exists. If what we witnessed was not an excessive use of force, then the definition of ‘excessive use of force’ needs to be changed so that we witnessed was an excessive use of force.

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