Two of the police officers involved in Friday's casually psychopathic pepper-spraying incident at UC Davis have been placed on administrative leave, reports the Associated Press. Paid or unpaid leave? The AP doesn't say. Update: Paid. Either way, they can now unwind from all that confrontational peace-keeping!
Meanwhile, Pepper-Spray Chancellor Linda Katehi has formed a task force to discuss Friday's incident, which seems superfluous given that videos show in a fairly straightforward manner that the protesters were sprayed without provocation. You could read more about the task force and its objectives here, but UC-PepperSpray's website seems to be experiencing some issues right now. Anonymous, is that you?
While the public (minus "hippie"-hating anonymous blog commenters) shakes its collective head, and writers continue producing protest violence video round-ups and eloquent dissections of the Davis incident and what it all means, here's a cop defending Davis' pepper-spray police and their actions:
Charles J. Kelly, a former Baltimore Police Department lieutenant who wrote the department's use of force guidelines, said pepper spray is a "compliance tool" that can be used on subjects who do not resist, and is preferable to simply lifting protesters.
"When you start picking up human bodies, you risk hurting them," Kelly said. "Bodies don't have handles on them."
When you spray a burning chemical into someone's face, you "risk hurting them" that way as well. As the LA Times reported all the way back in 1995, when pepper-spray use by law enforcement was still a newish thing, pepper-spray can also be deadly. In his insightful summary of Friday's incident, UC Davis professor Bob Ostertag relates a conversation he had with an unnamed doctor from the California Department of Corrections who asserts that pepper-spray is used on prisoners only when there's a threat of violence, in part because of the "serious health risk" involved in its use. "If a prisoner is seated, by definition the use of pepper spray is prohibited," Ostertag writes.
Oh, but wait— former Baltimore Police Department lieutenant Charles J. Kelly isn't done telling us why we shouldn't be outraged by the Davis incident. It was the protesters' fault!:
After reviewing the video, Kelly said he observed at least two cases of "active resistance" from protesters. In one instance, a woman pulls her arm back from an officer. In the second instance, a protester curls into a ball. Each of those actions could have warranted more force, including baton strikes and pressure-point techniques.
"What I'm looking at is fairly standard police procedure," Kelly said.
If pepper-spraying protesters for curling up into balls is "fairly standard police procedure," then it's time to change the procedure. Beating and pepper-spraying the crap out of nonviolent protesters protects no one and only corrodes the relationship between the police and the public, as any introspective police officer will tell you. There is simply no defensible justification for attacking people who are sitting calmly on the ground, threatening no one.