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CosmicBob
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Post by CosmicBob »

Voronwë the Faithful wrote:I see those articles, and particularly the second, as exactly the opposite of what you seem to be saying they are. Far from being examples of commentary that claim that the benefit of the doubt should always go to the police the bulk of both articles condemn the officers action, and while both include quotes from a so-called expert claiming that it was normal procedure, the second one in particular goes on to completely debunk that claim.
I was just pointing out that there are reports of people who agree with the police actions. I had thought that you meant you didn't see anyone who agreed with them. This Kelly (or Key) guy does. The whole article doesn't support the police action, I think they might have had to search far and wide to find this guy, but he does have some kind of official standing if he actually wrote the policy for the Maryland police.
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

That makes sense. Thanks.
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Post by Lalaith »

Well, not surprisingly I'm sure, I tend to give the police the benefit of the doubt. However, I do acknowledge that some officers sometimes do act in unacceptable ways. I also think it's easy in situations like this for us to look at a video and play armchair quarterback. We weren't there in the situation to know all that had occurred and was occurring at the time. Protests can be intense situations for officers, as they can quickly turn into a mob.

Were the protestors ordered to move? Did they comply? Why were they being told to move?


ETA: To remove a thought that was ill-formed.
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

As the article that CosmicBob linked to correctly points out, the standard for using the type of force used is more than just were they ordered to move and didn't. That would be passive resistance. It would require some form of active resistance beyond just sitting there and refusing to move.

Of course, it is always possible that videos don't show the whole story, but I haven't heard anything that suggests that these students were doing anything threatening. Of course there are always "experts" that will take either side of any issue, but in my professional opinion, this wasn't even a close call. Which is why I was surprised to hear that "any conservative commentary" was suggesting that "society was acting to protect itself by suppressing the protest by any means necessary" and that "police are always, by definition, right." That was the kind of examples that I was looking for, because I haven't seen anything like that.
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Post by yovargas »

I have kept wondering what police are supposed to do in a situation like that, where a group of people is where they're not "supposed" to be but refuse to leave. The pepper spray video seems like an awful response but the cops seem to be in a really crappy damned if they do, damned if they don't situation here where they really have no good options. Given that, it doesn't surprise me that some cops, being humans, get frustrated and go with bad options.
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Post by anthriel »

I'm so glad that Fox news is condemning the pepper spray decision, and that people are having to dig into articles that overall condemn this action to find a rare person who supports what happened without reservation.

With the exception of this pepper spray incident (again, which both "sides" have been unhappy about) I am very relieved and gratified that these protests are relatively peaceful. BOTH the protesters and, yes, the police deserve some recognition for restraint.

I understand that there are LOTS of protesters, and there will always be a few who react poorly. There have been things thrown at the police, although I don't think those videos are as widely seen. I have this sick feeling (and I know it won't be popular to say this here, but here I go anyway) that there are many people in that crowd who are almost waiting for the police to make mistakes, so that they can video it and decry police brutality.

We need to hold our police to a high standard. They need to show restraint and good judgment and make all the right decisions at the right time. I hope they do. But most police officers I know hate crowd control, because it can SO quickly become dangerous. Cops are trained to react in a moment's notice, and sometimes, I am sure, they overreact. Most of the time, in the months that protesters and police have interacted, here, there have been many opportunities on both sides for disasterous choices, and many people, MANY people, have chosen patience and restraint instead.

I really am glad of it.



ETA: Cross posted with yov and Sir V
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Post by SirDennis »

However, I do acknowledge that some officers sometimes do act in unacceptable ways.
This was the central theme of the video I posted on the page previous. In a nut shell, the retired police captain who himself was arrested during the National Day of Action, pointed to police being people capable of "losing it" like anyone else; the police leaders (White Shirts) are the most confrontational and setting a bad example which so far (thankfully) the rank and file police are ignoring; and corporations are availing themselves of the use of publicly funded officers, which is wrong.

A running complaint against OWS supporters is that NY police are tied up around Wall Street and are not able to attend to other areas of the city where crime is suddenly on the rise. I like this complaint actually because it underscores whose interests are more important to government; "sorry, can't respond to your 911 call, currently protecting Wall Street Bankers from people who are sitting on the ground half a block away from them."

I described two cases of police acting unlawfully in the lead post of this thread. I'm surprised there hasn't been more reports of brutality, but I think many police, and certainly many returning soldiers, are on the side of OWS. What I'm not surprised by is that as incidents involving police become more frequent the reporting on OWS has as well.

ETA: cross-posted with yov, Sir V, and Anth ;)
Last edited by SirDennis on Tue Nov 22, 2011 4:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by SirDennis »

For the record, here is something not dealing with arrests or pepper spray:

Faith overtones in Occupy protests but leaders wary
(Reuters) - Religions condemn greed. The "Occupy Wall Street" protests around the world condemn greed. So theoretically, religious leaders should find common ground with the rallies denouncing the inequalities of capitalism.
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Post by Lalaith »

Voronwë the Faithful wrote:As the article that CosmicBob linked to correctly points out, the standard for using the type of force used is more than just were they ordered to move and didn't. That would be passive resistance. It would require some form of active resistance beyond just sitting there and refusing to move.
According to Freddy, that depends on the department, and passive resistance is still resistance. If you're failing to follow an order, you're going to face a consequence.

Granted, it seems like a wiser decision might have been made in the first place to avoid this, i.e., allowing the protestors to remain where they were. Not being all that familiar with the specifics of this situation, though, I don't know if the protestors were in a place that was disruptive to others or to the college. I thought I had heard that there was another place that was designated as a place where they could protest and that this group was blocking sidewalks in an undesignated area. (Again, should it have been a big deal? It doesn't seem like it, but I can't really say for sure.)
Which is why I was surprised to hear that "any conservative commentary" was suggesting that "society was acting to protect itself by suppressing the protest by any means necessary" and that "police are always, by definition, right." That was the kind of examples that I was looking for, because I haven't seen anything like that.
No, and I wouldn't agree with that either. I'm supportive of the right to lawfully assemble and protest, have free speech, etc. (I'd better be, or it may be my rights someday that are taken away!) I do not think the police are always right, though, yes, I have a strong bias in their favor--as anyone would toward whichever group he or she has an insider's perspective on.

My gut reaction on seeing the video is the same as everyone's; it is repugnant. It's repugnant because it is violent. (Not violent on the same level as using baton strikes or punches, but still violent nonetheless.) Repugnant does not mean, however, that is excessive or wrong. Keep in mind that I'm saying that it could be excessive or wrong; I'm unwilling to say that outright, however, because I don't know enough about the specifics of the situation. If the officer crossed the line, then he should be held accountable. If he was following orders and department procedure, then it may be time to focus the anger elsewhere.
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Post by River »

Responding to people sitting on a sidewalk with their arms linked by dousing them in pepper spray is a little...beyond the pall. Better training and some imagination could have kept that from happening.
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Post by Lalaith »

Would you rather the police used physical force?
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Post by River »

I have no idea what the options are, but I'm not sure physical force is worse than chemical force. Perhaps, just as the protesters have thought up some creative non-violent tactics, the police need to sit down and think up some new responses? Because if things continue as they do, it's pretty obvious who's going end up losing the PR war (and that's what, ultimately, these things are).

ETA: I'm trying to think of a better way to put this... When I was an EMT, I was trained to deal with stressful situations because, when you're in a stressful spot, you need to be able to do what's natural (freak out) and do what's necessary (your job) simultaneously. So, if you've been trained, part of your brain is literally going "OMG WTF I wanna throw up WTF WTF WTF get me out of here, AHHHH!!!" and the other part is going, "Okay, where are the big bandages?" I know cops also get trained to deal with stressful situations and I'm sure dealing with crowd control scene is scary. Lots of people and people are unpredictable even on the best days. But there've got to be alternatives to what happened at UC Davis and the rank-and-file cops need to be taught those alternatives.
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Post by SirDennis »

I may have missed something but wasn't this an act by campus police? They are supposed to protect students, especially students exercising their lawful rights.

The message is pretty messed up: want to complain about tuition rates? Here is some pepper spray in the face delivered by a person your tuition keeps employed.

As long as the protesters remain non-violent the event is a snap shot of what is wrong with public servants being used as thugs by the power elite.
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Lalaith wrote:
Voronwë the Faithful wrote:As the article that CosmicBob linked to correctly points out, the standard for using the type of force used is more than just were they ordered to move and didn't. That would be passive resistance. It would require some form of active resistance beyond just sitting there and refusing to move.
According to Freddy, that depends on the department, and passive resistance is still resistance.
I don't mean to pick on you (and Freddie) but I feel pretty confident in saying that that is just wrong. Individual departments don't get to choose what is excessive force and what isn't it, and the courts have made it pretty clear that the use of pepper spray in the face of passive resistance is excessive force.

That having been said, I agree with Yov that the officers were in a difficult situation and, being human, don't always make the right decision in that kind of circumstance. And I agree with you, Lali, that we really don't know all of the facts, and that is possible that there were actions that occurred that did justify this level of force. But from what I know, I really doubt it.
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Post by Primula Baggins »

Pepper spray, rubber bullets, tasers and such were created to give the police, or soldiers dealing with civilian populations, an alternative to using deadly force to protect themselves. As such, they have saved lives among both police and the general population in situations they're trying to control.

But in some situations it seems as if these methods aren't being used instead of deadly force—the police at Davis would never have opened fire on those students sitting on the ground in a line; they weren't in any danger from the students, so it would have been unimaginable.

Instead, in some incidents, the "nonlethal force" techniques are being used to punish people who don't instantly obey an order from police, sometimes with no apparent consideration of whether such force is needed or appropriate—or even whether the people in question might actually have a right to be where they are, doing what they're doing. We saw lots of this during the Arab Spring; it bothers me that we're sometimes seeing it here, now, in America.

Yes, at the Occupy protests some protesters get out of hand; they're large groups of people and they don't have an internal set of rules other than consensus and moral pressure (which have sometimes worked to keep volatile situations calmer; see UC Davis and the students' demeanor during the chancellor's walk to her car). But I don't think it's the culture of those protests for violence to happen. Compare what we're seeing now to the WTO-meeting riots in Seattle in 1999, where vandalism and property destruction were planned in advance and deliberately carried out (link) (and wrecked any chance that the anti-globalization protesters who didn't employ those tactics would be remembered or listened to).
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Post by anthriel »

River wrote: Because if things continue as they do, it's pretty obvious who's going end up losing the PR war (and that's what, ultimately, these things are).
That is a pretty darned powerful statement. Very true.
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Post by River »

SirDennis wrote:For the record, here is something not dealing with arrests or pepper spray:

Faith overtones in Occupy protests but leaders wary
(Reuters) - Religions condemn greed. The "Occupy Wall Street" protests around the world condemn greed. So theoretically, religious leaders should find common ground with the rallies denouncing the inequalities of capitalism.
The article is sort of dances around this, but perhaps the reason is most religious groups have their money tied up in the banking system (this isn't a slam on religion, it's just how endowments and such work)? Or the leadership fears a backlash from wealthy donors?

It seems like a lot of powerful people have been very quiet about OWS and its offspring. A scant few have condemned it. A few others keep beating the "They don't have a message" drum. But, AFAIK, no one in a position of power has come forward and said, "Hey, these guys have a point..." and gotten airtime.
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Post by Ellienor »

OK, I'll put some perspective in here for Lali. Of course I wasn't there; but I WENT to UC Davis. The area the protesters were in is in a large courtyard area (very large, like football field sized) behind Mrak Hall, which is the main administrative building on campus. That is the place where generally, protesters gather. I MYSELF spent time there (didn't Occupy, though) protesting UC investments in South Africa during the '80s, before the end of apartheid. I listened to Bishop Tutu speak. So, the students were not blocking anything, they were not preventing any normal business, they were hanging out (and a very small crowd at that, I think it was maybe tops, 50 people?) in a place that was a traditional spot for people to gather to make their voices heard.

The Chancellor, from the reports I heard, decided it was a "health and safety" issue to have the students remain there over the weekend. OK, perhaps it was a trifle inconvenient. She asked the police to "clear" them out. Now this is where it gets to judgement calls. Should she have ordered the campus police to clear out the Occupy protesters? or should she have bowed to it and had portapotties brought in (although the campus buildings are open on the weekends, no doubt) and scheduled extra campus police patrols to ensure safety? I don't know.

But what I do know is that this kind of resistance (college students in a peaceful protest), such that the students were not complying with the officers, is a lot different than a criminal situation on the street where suspects are not complying with police. It is a VERY different situation. Whereas perhaps, in some situations, pepper spray might be OK in the latter, I think most of us agree that use of pepper spray on these passive resisting college students is really not ok. What the students were doing is something we have a right to do in our society. It is something that we VALUE in our society.

I do feel very sympathetic for the challenges faced by the police. In this situation, they were told to "clear out the protesters". They were between a rock and a hard place. They wanted to follow their orders, yet they were stymied in doing so. I can see how in that situation, an officer might have done what he did. But I think the order from the chancellor to "clear them out" was probably the biggest blunder here. IN fact, as I think about it, I do think she needs to resign.
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Post by Lalaith »

Thank you for that insider's perspective, Ellie. It confirms my impression that the chancellor is the one on whom the original fault lies. It would have been much wiser for her to let the protestors be.

The only other thing I think I can add to this is that, sadly, campus police are often in a different category than municipal police, particularly with regards to training and quality.
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Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Ellie, are those reports that you heard just through the grapevine, or are their links that you can point to?

ETA: From what I am seeing, she claims that she did not order the police to disburse the protesters, but only to dismantle the equipment for the encampment.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/uc-davis-chanc ... d=14996531
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