SocraticGadfly: Another POV than #OWS on UC Davis #pepperspray

December 07, 2011

Another POV than #OWS on UC Davis #pepperspray

I'm still not justifying Lt. Pike's actions, but, there's other video, besides what the Occupy folks showed a couple of weeks ago. Protestors, the whole group, not just the small number sprayed while on the ground, were given several warnings to disperse. AND, other Occupyers were apparently trying to prevent police from removing from the scene.

Click here for a video compilation with on-screen narrative. Or just click the screen: 

Yes, I've been hinted as being a former supporter of Occupy Wall Street, or wavering, or whatever.

Well, as a skeptic, including a skeptical left-liberal, I try to hold to the grounds of realism. That said, whether it's the right on global warming, sections of the left on alt-med, or far-left and right on conspiracy theories, it's hard to get a lot of Americans to attach to that.

Again, I'm not justifying Lt. Pike. I am saying there's a larger context to the UC Davis actions than OWS brief clips have shown. And, I say below, OWS people had options.

So, will you watch this?

OK, to boost part of my comment to Sheldon to the body of the post. I, personally, as an antiwar protester, was of the "kinder, gentler" sort, I'll admit. So, I personally wouldn't have done this. Second, the larger crowd could have passively resisted to the eventual point of going limp and waiting for arrest.

Third, we have plenty to see of police brutality in Oakland, already. A partial meme like this looked "great," but, to the degree this "corrective" catches up with it, it could backfire.

Fourth, I'm not going to argue it's not still excessive force. But, it is arguable that there are degrees of excessiveness, and that this is "less excessive" than it seemed two weeks ago. 

It also could "backfire" on the messaging angle in other ways. Take the Portland pepper spraying picture that was infamous before this. Now I'm wondering just what that picture didn't show, as well as what it showed. Maybe we're not missing anything. But, maybe we are.

Fifth, assuming there's nothing we're "missing" from the Portland photo, we have it, the NYC photos, the Oakland photos and more. This doesn't rise to the level of Photoshopping a fake march crowd at the start of OWS, of course, but, if statistics follow damned lies, photos and videos aren't that far behind at times.

That said, per another blog, here's one way the police could have handled this better, without violence, without bad PR and without other things. Of course, I don't know if the St. Louis encampment was that comparable to the Davis one. In short, even if something is 95 percent "black" on a black-and-white scale, it still isn't 100 percent black and white. And, given Bay Area California's relatively mild year-round weather, and that this was on a university campus, it's quite possible we can't take too much from the St. Louis situation.

Sixth, to the degree police can be thugs, this is nothing new. It's a commonplace of the War on Drugs. Again, not excusing cops, but for Occupiers, poorer whites, and certainly minorities, have faced this, too, for years if not decades. Per Balko's column, yes, the Davis students are lucky they weren't Tased. That probably relates to the amount of publicity involved already.

So, OWS, if you want to cut back this brutality, add reforming the War on Drugs to your list.

And, while it may not make much sense, among other things, to call Wall Street leaders sociopaths, it may well make more sense to call cops that.


That all said, I definitely agree with the content of the link in Sheldon's second comment. Guilt-tripping 99ers, even if they are a bit too commercialistic at times, about their Christmas shopping will be counterproductive. Before OWS, most Americans hadn't even heard of Adbusters,


Sheldon said...

Come on now. This all seems to me quite irrelevant. I have seen extended footage myself, not just the short pepper spraying incident. Everybody knows they were given plenty of warning to disperse and they stood their ground. It is called non-violent civil disobedience. To be sure it is MILITANT civil disobedience, and they are antagonizing the police. But they gave them the option to leave, and so the police could have complied. Maybe you think people should just have nice little protests and go home? Think busting your ass for Green Party candidates who will never be elected is going to lead to anything? Change is going to take some confrontation and conflict. I find it inspiring that they tried to free those arrested, and then backed the police out of the area. Really, which side are you on?

Sheldon said...

And here some grist for your anti-adbusters mill ( of which I partially agree).

Gadfly said...

Oh, Sheldon, I'm not disagreeing with the "right" to make civil disobedience more militant. But, if done so after orders to disperse, you take your chances.

That said, it was presented, in the OWS-type "snippets," as passive, not active, civil disobedience, in the hopes that this "meme" would take hold.

The larger issue is how much confrontation is right, when, where, etc., and when does confrontation go beyond that to violence? The larger crowd of protesters had the option of going limp and waiting to be arrested, for example.

As for the meme spreading, it did, at first. But, depending on how quickly and far the partial corrective spreads, it could be counterproductive in the long term.

Personally, having marched in multiple Iraq War protests, I wouldn't have done what the protesters at Davis did.

And, I'll take a look at your link.

Sheldon said...

And I think the protesters knew they were taking a chance and would probably get sprayed. But the police could have also zip-tied and arrested them. Even given the broader context of the video, the spraying was excessive force.