How to Lose the Sympathy of Reasonable People: A Short Primer

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Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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  1. Paul Blart, campus cop, becomes Bull Connor.  Whatever works.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

      A boot stomping on a human face yesterday, a boot stomping on a human face today, a boot stomping on a human face forever.Report

      • Avatar Scott in reply to Jaybird says:

        Jaybird:

        Comparing OC spray to the physical violence of a boot is the best you can come up with?  What a load of BS.  I was put in a CS gas chamber as part of my basic training and fifteen minutes after you got out you  were fine.  It wasn’t pleasant but it was hardly as bad as folks make it out to be.  Here is a link to a more detailed story, it appears that the poor protestors illegally erected tents and were blocking the cops from removing them.

        http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/19/us/california-pepper-spray/index.html

         Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Scott says:

          Scott, I really wish you read more.Report

          • Avatar Scott in reply to Jaybird says:

            Jaybird:

            You think you are clever b/c you can quote Orwell?  Why not try and come up with an original thought and less hyperbole?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Scott says:

              No, I think I’m clever because I’m doing a mash-up of George Orwell and George Wallace. George Orwallace.

              As for hyperbole, I’m one of those who sees the cops acting like totalitarian creeps against people who are mostly harmless. I’m trying to imagine what we’d think if we saw Egyptian Copts being beaten by the authorities. What we’d think if we saw Libyan Berbers beaten by bobbies.

              And you know what? I doubt we’d be seeing half as many folks pulling the whole “hey, you need to do what the man says” schtick.

              And there ain’t no hyperbole in that.

              Additionally, you need to keep in mind: Today the cops think it’s okay to hit hippies. Tomorrow? That might be your face they’re stomping on.Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to Jaybird says:

                Jaybird:

                Your imagined cleverness fails b/c the cops didn’t hit the protestors or use their boots (dogs, hoses or anything else) (please insert imagined method of violence here to make comment sound clever) Confusing the use pepper spray and physical violence is pathetic.Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to Scott says:

                I take it you’ve never been pepper sprayed.Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

                Pat:

                If you had read my first response to Jaybird you would know that I was tear gassed  when I went though my officer basic course. I probably inhaled more gas then any of those folks did given that the NCOs made us run around inside the gas camber before we took our masks off.Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to Scott says:

                So how long ago was that?

                And when you came out of the hut, were you all happy at your training officers?  Or did you say to yourself, “Jesus, those guys can bite my ass!”?

                I’m just curious.Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to Scott says:

                Pat:

                It was a little over a year ago. My thoughts immediately after I exited and for the next 15 minutes or so were only concerned with being able to see and breath. It tasted like the most acrid smoke you’ve smelled and was worse than the strongest onions that made you cry and worst runny nose you’ve ever had. My group ran out and were told to start waving our arms to disperse the fumes and to try to breath deeply.  It also makes any exposed skin feel as if it has a bad sunburn. You could feel it on your face, hands and the back of your neck. We had one African American guy that shaved his head and had done so that morning.  He said his head was on fire.  The fumes clung to our uniforms and for the rest of the day we would catch whiffs of it. We had one ex-Special Forces guy that went in without a mask to show us that it wasn’t that bad and he got to come out early.

                I didn’t bear any ill will towards the NCOs, it was just training nothing more. I considered it a rite of passage and now I can say that I did it and it wasn’t that bad (not that I’m looking forward to getting gassed again).Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to Scott says:

                I considered it a rite of passage

                Does this tell you something, germane to the issue at hand?

                Or does it not?

                This is a very important question.

                (again, pardons for a lack of clarity, as I have been imbibing.  Perhaps this is an important factor, perhaps not.  I’m certainly capable of correcting typos).Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to Scott says:

                Pat:

                I said that in reference to your question about any ill will I had toward the NCOs. That gas chamber is another part of training that one has to endure and so is an experience that everyone has. The whole idea of being gassed seemed rather daunting and mysterious before you experience it. Given most peoples unfamiliarity with being gassed I think it tends to stand out more in ones memories than other training events which are more common or have analogous civilian actives.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Scott says:

                That doesn’t exactly answer my question.

                Let me rephrase:

                Given your experience being gassed, would you expect that someone who has not undergone this as a training exercise would call this a reasonable response to a nonviolent protest?Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to Scott says:

                Pat:

                I’m not looking at this just with my experience being gassed but also with my numerous conversation with cops I know about using force on folks. I think I need both experiences to have the opinion that I do and frankly the police side is more important b/c it is the side where the reality is that laying hands on someone to force them to do something like unlock their arms and then wrestling with them to zip cuff them really does present a higher danger of injury to both parties than does peppering them.  Actually I would also include another experience I have and that would be high school wrestling. It can be incredibly hard to force someone to do something if they meet you with force resisting your efforts.  The pepper spray merely temporally incapacitates them from resisting the application force and allows the cops to use the minimum of force necessary to detain them. So I guess the bottom line is that sure I can understand if someone without my experiences thinks the use of pepper is unreasonable like Density seemed to but I would hope that after a discussion of the subject that he and anyone else could understand why the use of pepper spray might actually make things safer for both parties even though it may seem to be counter intuitive at first glace.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Scott says:

                I’m not looking at this just with my experience being gassed but also with my numerous conversation with cops I know about using force on folks. I think I need both experiences to have the opinion that I do

                Scott, respectfully:

                You’re noting your experience as being gassed, formally, as part of a training… and your experience, anecdotally, as being a buddy of cops.

                You’re kind of dancing around my question, though.  I’m not asking you to defend the actions of the police.

                I’m asking you to put your feet in the moccasins of the protestors.

                If you’re a protestor, as someone who hasn’t been gassed as a part of your training, but is experiencing it as what you believe to be an unprovoked event, would you think this was appropriate use of force?

                I’m not asking you to condemn the federales.  I’m asking you to put yourself in the boots of the protestors.

                Savvy?Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to Scott says:

                Pat:

                If I was on the other side I wouldn’t think any use of force was justified against me b/c I’m just a poor college kid and am morally in the right.  Ok, I said it but so what?  No one ever thinks any use of force is justified against them for their actions. How many times have we seen the family of some guy shot by the cops on TV asking why the cops had to shoot him when he had a knife or a gun? Why not ask one of those protestors that was peppered what use of force they think was justified against them.  I think their answer would be quite a bit more interesting to hear then bunch of keyboard commandos like Mike threatening violence if his kids are ever pepperedReport

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Scott says:

                Scott, if you don’t understand the difference in the relationship between a drill instructor & recruits, and the one between cops & citizens (even if they’re DFHs), you learned nothing at boot camp.Report

              • Avatar Mike in reply to Scott says:

                I just read all your commentary, and it’s nothing if not a great example of why fascist pieces of shit like you should NEVER be allowed onto a police force or anywhere else involved in “law enforcement” or “military.”Report

              • Avatar Mike in reply to Scott says:

                “Rites of passage” are where they strip what little is left of the humanity from the fascist thugs in blue before they send them out into the real world to commit rapes, beat people up, and generally get drunk on power.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I suspect that we will have it explained that the officers were following standard protocol and, after the officers go on paid leave for an inquiry, the fact-finding board will find that nothing wrong was done.Report

  3. Avatar Scott says:

    Jason:

    So you are agreeing with a guy that admits that he wasn’t there and doesn’t really know the entire story but is is still blaming the cops? How can you argue with that, the cops must surely be wrong.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Scott says:

      Scott I would absolutely LOVE for you to explain why it’s acceptable behavior to just roll up and blast teenagers with mace.Report

      • Avatar Scott in reply to DensityDuck says:

        DD:

        Were you there and saw the whole incident?  I wasn’t and the cameraman didn’t record the whole incident so how can you even say that the cop just rolled up and sprayed the folks?  For all we know, the protestors had been several warnings to disperse and pack their illegally erected tents. No, please just keeping assuming you know what happened, it is a lot easier that way and won’t require any thought.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Scott says:

          I cannot imagine a scenario in which a bunch of people would do something that required them to be pepper-sprayed after they had sat down and shut up.Report

          • Avatar Scott in reply to DensityDuck says:

            DD:

            If the protestors were warned to pack their tents and go but instead sat down locked arms and refused to disperse, you would really expect the cops to wrestle with each one of them and risk hurting either themselves or the protestors?  Nope, it is much safer and easier to pepper them and then zip cuff them when they release their arms to wipe their eyes. Actually it would have been better for all if they had just obeyed the law in the first place, but clearly that is asking too much of a bunch of spoiled college kids.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Scott says:

              You’re saying that they pepper-sprayed the protestors because they didn’t want to hurt them.

              What the hell are you even doing posting here? Go back to Free Republic or The New Effort or something. This is not the place for you.Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to DensityDuck says:

                DD:

                That is my guess as to why the protestors got peppered but I wasn’t there.  Have you ever tried make a bunch of folks unlock their arms and then wrestle them so you can cuff them?  No, well when you do so be sure not to hurt them or get hurt yourself. If you hurt them they will be sure to file a complaint that you used excessive force. Any time you have to lay hands on someone to force them to do something their is a risk that one or both parties will get hurt.  That is just the way things are so please grow up.Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to Scott says:

                Have you ever tried make a bunch of folks unlock their arms and then wrestle them so you can cuff them?

                Hm.

                Not sure, but from this video the use of pepper spray didn’t exactly get ’em all passive, did it?Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

                Pat:

                After they were sprayed some of the folks were moved quite easily. Many of the protestors had their heads down and may have held their breath which would have delayed the effects of the spray.  A minute or two after the spray they were definitely all crying and couldn’t see.Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to Scott says:

                Remind me to hire you as my chief of security.Report

              • Avatar Mike in reply to Scott says:

                I bet you skin puppies alive for fun too, you sick, motherless, subhuman monster.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Scott says:

                Look, if you’re going to use this thread as a forum to try to start a personal fight with another commenter, I’m going to start removing your comments. This isn’t hard- disagree as vehemently as you want with each other and you still don’t have to make it an attack on the other person as an individual.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Scott says:

                I’m going to second Rufus on this one.  Civility becomes more important in the face of moral outrage, not less.

                Here, like this. Watch and learn. (Everybody? Or is that too much to ask?)Report

        • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to Scott says:

          I would be okay with saying that if your side has the guns, billy clubs, and pepper spray, and the other side has none of those things, using one of those things on someone who is sitting on the ground constitutes an abuse of your vested power.

          I really don’t care if they’re calling you a fartface for an hour before you crack.  You’ve got the power imbalance *way* in your favor.Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

            Pat, legally constituted authority isn’t a “side,” and to credit the victim/miscreants with equal status is a false equivalency.

            Further, it appears from the reports

            http://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/crime-fire-courts/protests-again-gathering-steam-on-campus/

            that several protestors had already been arrested, and the pepper spray was used on those who blocked the campus cops from taking them away.   If so, this takes the miscreants’ aggression up a notch, from “sitting-in” themselves to actively interfering with cops in the performance of their duties.

            I’d think that’s a ratchet up in the criminal code from mere trespassing or failure to disperse.  Per MLK’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, I think that would be an escalation on the part of the protestors that’s unjustified by the principles of civil disobedience.

            Of course it’s the campus cop who will eat it.  He should have called in sick today, because nothing good was ever going to come of this for him.  He was on the wrong “side.”

             Report

            • Tom, I stand by the assertion.

              If you have the billy clubs, the pepper spray, and the guns, how is it that you can’t manage to handcuff a bunch of idiot kids sitting on the effin’ sidewalk?  Obstruction of justice is a legit charge.  So handcuff the kids and take ’em away.  I’ve seen actual riots, I was here for Rodney.

              This ain’t that.  I don’t see it as a legitimate use.  Pepper spray is a disabling agent.  You use it when you have a perp who is a legitimate threat of violence against the officers of the law.  You don’t use it on people who aren’t actually threatening anything.Report

              • FWIW, I’ve been in a mob scene twice.  You can tell when it gets ugly when you’re on the inside.

                I have a lot of sympathy for being on the other side.  It’s a lot harder to tell when it’s about to get ugly when you’re on the other side.

                Fear is the mind killer.  It makes people do all sorts of stupid stuff.  I don’t think this is “abuse”, in the sense that the cops are doing it just to be hard asses (although that has probably been the case in some of the other incidents that have been caught on video).  It’s still not legit.  The cops made a bad call.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

                Pat, I question whether the protestors are meeting their own ethical obligations.  There’s a disturbing “moral” meme these days that being in the “right” releases a person from the rules of civilization.

                It does appear they escalated into aggression by preventing the cops from doing their legally authorized and mandated duty.  No, I’m not defending Kent State, but weakness—or less physical power—is not a claim to virtue or to innocence.

                [I question whether the campus cops were armed with guns.  I dunno, but between gun-free PC and the practical matter that this demonstration was not a matter of life and death, arming the cops would be imprudent.]

                You ask elsewhere if the protestors could have been removed by another method.  Wrench at their limbs?  I’d expect greater chance of injury, perhaps permanent.

                The cops morally obliged to risk injury themselves?  This is unacceptable to ask of them, and the protestors still have an ethical duty to these cops.  Any cop hurt would be the protestors’ fault: they have an ethical duty toward his well-being, too, a reciprocal human duty.

                Being “right” doesn’t relieve them of that duty.  In the olden days, you didn’t blame the headsman.

                [In fact, you tipped him, so he’d do a nice clean job.]Report

              • weakness—or less physical power—is not a claim to virtue or to innocence.

                That’s an eminently fair cop, Tom, and if we were playing “Who’s the fuckup” (pardon, I’m drinking), then the call may fall down on “both houses”.

                Still, if I invest you with the implicit authority to use force against your fellow citizen, you had best exercise that force with due caution and I don’t think that plays out, here.

                Mebbe all those fools deserve 2 months in the hoosegow, I have no call to say on the basis of this here clip of video.  But I can say that if I was the guy in charge of deploying cop-types into this scenario and I saw this here video, I’d be hard pressed not to put my foot all the way up somebody’s behind.

                I’d even unlace my boot first, so as to leave it up there.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

                OK, Pat.  No defense of police misconduct, just making the moral equation a true equation.  In contrast to the CRM and the Letter from Birmingham Jail, I find in #OWS [and many who believe they’re on the side of the angels] a lack of moral seriousness and clarity.

                In this discussion, to those giving these protestors a moral immunity and focusing only on the pigs, as a thought experiment they should substitute an abortion clinic or the Aryan Brotherhood to check their sentiments and arguments.

                Me, I have trouble suppressing a grin at the thought of macing Nazis.

                ;-}Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

                Is your point that if a group of passive, completely non-violent anti-abortion protesters had been maced for failing to disperse, liberals would be cheering?  I  hope not, because that’s complete nonsense.Report

              • For the record, I grant the protestors no moral immunity, T-bone.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

                By dishonestly rewriting my premise, Mr. Schilling, you disrupted yet another principled discussion.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

                Aw, cut Mike a break, Tommy.

                He’s prone to thumbin’ you in the eye, but I suspect his motivations are honest.

                If he’s re-writing your premise, it’s because he suspects it or he disbelieves it, not on account o’ he’s dishonest hisself.

                Or at least, that’s what I suspect, drunk off’n me noggin as I am.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

                I’m confident a review of his record will show otherwise, Pat. Caricature and elision of all nuance is the rule not the exception.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

                @TVD:

                Then what do you mean?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                If the cops thought there was a risk of violence, they would have secured the area first.  Instead,they pepper-sprayed the few seated protesters while surrounded by the larger crowd.  They knew damned well they were in no danger.

                The kids showed admirable restraint and maturity, shaming the cops instead of responding with violence or even verbal abuse.  It’s the cops who acted like out-of-control children.

                 Report

              • They knew damned well they were in no danger.

                In defense of the police, any time you’re surrounded by a large volume of people who outnumber you, you’re never quite sure that you are in no danger.

                Particularly, if you are routinely exposed to the worst of mankind, you might very well have a niggling suspicious back o’ yer noggin that you may be in some sort of danger.

                This does not excuse the unnecessary use of force (if anything, it exacerbates it).

                Still, I suspect cops are humans like the rest of us and while I demand better, I expect normal human reactions.

                Such is the quandary.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                In defense of the police, any time you’re surrounded by a large volume of people who outnumber you, you’re never quite sure that you are in no danger.

                They escalated the level of violence against the tiny fraction of the crowd that was sitting down, while remaining surrounded by the rest.  If that’s how they handle threatening stiuations, they’re too stupid to be trusted with weapons.Report

              • Mike:

                I have no objection.

                I think that putting “non-lethal” equipment in the hands of the federales is a damn sight bad idea for just this reason.

                I’m rather limited, that way.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Pat, I question whether the protestors are meeting their own ethical obligations.  There’s a disturbing “moral” meme these days that being in the “right” releases a person from the rules of civilization.

                In our civilization, we have collectively decided that the police do not get to tell citizens exactly when, where, and how they express themselves.  The rules of our civilization purposefully incorporate some measure of disorder, called liberty by those of us who still believe in it.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                The premise [and apparent fact] is that the protestors escalated from “sitting in” to interfering with taking away those who had already been arrested.

                However, the question still remains that even if narrowed into a First Amendment question, whether society and law require they be able to do it how and wherever they want to.  To say there are no limits is to give 1stA “self-expression” a waiver on obeying normal laws, which puts us into the same territory.

                This would have nothing in common with civil disobedience, the whole point of which is to take the consequences for one’s willful breaking of the laws.  And this is where the discussion goes afoul.Report

              • Surely the Founding Fathers could not have foreseen hippies when they specifically mentioned peaceful assembly in the Constitution…Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                Longstanding precedent allows for reasonable restrictions on time, place, and manner of speech and speech-like acts.

                I can’t see the above as a reasonable restriction.  MFarmer, elsewhere on the thread, has given what seems the right approach, to my mind anyway.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                I don’t know what’s being discussed here, principle or this actual event.  It’s a mush.

                In the event, escalating from individual “self-expression” [sitting in] to acting as a group to interfere with other people being arrested is crossing a line.  There is no First Amendment right to interfere with the police doing their legal duty with other people.Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Jason:

                You and others still miss the point.  No one is saying the cops have the right to tell the protestors not to express themselves. The point is that in exercising their rights and then breaking the law, the protestors seem to feel that their being morally correct exempts them from obeying the law or suffering the consequences of that disobedience.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Scott says:

                I don’t think I’m missing the point.  Here’s why.

                I have increasingly come to the conclusion that the protesters are morally in the wrong.  Their policy prescriptions, insofar as they bother to make any, range from the idiotic to the merely unworkable. I and others have noted some passing similarities to a few things also desired by libertarians, but it’s become increasingly clear to me that these also aren’t particularly the things the protesters even care very much about.

                So I’m certainly not granting them any slack based on their moral authority.

                I am however granting them slack because in America, that’s supposed to be what we do when it’s a question of free expression.  We grant slack.  We don’t just passively accept that the government gets to decide when a protest is over.Report

              • Avatar Mike in reply to Scott says:

                And this is why the fascist forces don’t hire anyone with enough brainpower to understand the law.

                God forbid they hire ACTUAL humans, with fully developed brains, empathy, conscience, and the ability to understand what is and isn’t in the bounds of the law beyond the simple equation of “Me Cop, You Victim, You Obey Or I Crack Head” like Neanderthal Scott here.

                http://www.nytimes.com/1999/09/09/nyregion/metro-news-briefs-connecticut-judge-rules-that-police-can-bar-high-iq-scores.html

                Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              Remember when people defended Dumbya’s spending because “the democrats would be worse” and then it turned out that Dumbya’s spending was not the ceiling but the new floor that the so-called “party of fiscal responsibility” had established?

              What are you defending here?

              Are you so sure that you’re not going to establish a new floor somewhere?Report

            • Avatar Mike in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

               those who blocked the campus cops from taking them away.

              You have got to be kidding. They are SITTING IN A LINE on a pedestrian walkway. Nothing more.

              Then again, Scott’s the kind of fascist piece of shit who would wade into a lunch counter sit-in with a taser and baseball bat too.Report

        • Avatar Mike in reply to Scott says:

          I’ve seen the entire 40 minute video.

          YOU, Scott, are a fascist, motherless, subhuman creep and a filthy liar.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Scott says:

      So you are agreeing with a guy that admits that he wasn’t there and doesn’t really know the entire story but is is still blaming the cops? How can you argue with that, the cops must surely be wrong.

      I am agreeing with a thoughtful, articulate analyst of American public life, about what these events appear to mean for our nation.  In other words, I am doing what absolutely everyone does, from time to time, in a representative democracy.

      But you know, I could also ask the people who were there.  Between the cops and the protesters, I’m sure the truth will emerge.  So let’s ask what they might say.

      The protesters?  They probably agree with Fallows, I expect.  Though I admit I haven’t heard from them.

      The cops?  They say it was “self-defense.”   Which is the stinkiest load of bullshit I’ve ever seen in my entire life.Report

  4. Dunno if best analog is to the ’68 convention or the union battles of the late-19th century.

    What I do know, however, is that the police officer is the real victim here.Report

  5. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    The problem, I think, is the insistence on emphasizing the “non-lethal” rather than the “weapon” in the phrase “non-lethal weapon”. If you go around telling people that gasses and pepper spray are less like a pistol and more like a long-range headlock, then it’s not surprising that stuff like this happens.

    Or maybe he’s just an asshole.Report

  6. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    My parents, back in the days of anti-Vietnamese-War protests, considered Berkeley too dangerous for an 18-year-old, and persuaded my brother to attend a safer, lower-key, small-town campus, where the most pressing law-enforcement problem was bicycle theft.  I was very pleased earlier this year when my daughter decided to follow in her uncle’s footsteps.

    If one of those sadistic motherfuckers ever hurts her, we’ll all find out if there’s blog commenting from prison..Report

    • Mr. Schilling,

      I will attest, for the sake of normalization of the rest of my comments on this thread, that should it ever come to pass that anyone should find it right proper to pepper spray my daughter that I will be hard pressed to not put a bullet through said person’s noggin.

      One would hope that this is calibrated properly between now and 2027.Report

  7. Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

    Rio Bravo is on.

    I must adjourn for the remainder.

    “You’re in trouble, lady.  I’d like to talk to you.”Report

  8. Avatar Andy Warwick says:

    Ok, let’s say—for the sake of argument—that the protestors had refused to move and disperse peacefully and the next step was arrest. The cops had been called by the head of campus to move the obstruction. They still refused to go. The cops were in fear of the crowd and didn’t want to wade in physically and try to move the mob by force. And we still think pepper spray non-aggressive people is the next step in escalation? If it was me, call the fire service out and turn a low pressure hose on them. Not water cannon, not enough to knock them off their feet, but enough to make them cold and uncomfortable. And keep it on them all day until they get uncomfortable enough to want to leave, go eat, or go pee. No one gets hurt and the crowd disperses. I don’t see anyone objecting to that, assuming just letting them be and peacefully protesting was not an option for some specific and valid reason. Whatever you say, pepper spray was not a justified response in that situation.Report

    • Avatar Scott in reply to Andy Warwick says:

      Andy:

      So what happens when someone calls 911 with a fire, are they SOL?  Not to mention I can see the liberal press complaining about using hoses on poor defenseless children. You are right, hoses are so much better.Report

      • Avatar Andy Warwick in reply to Scott says:

        One cop and one fire appliance there for as long as it takes to clear. And if someone calls 911 with a fire how is that any different to the engine begin on another call with an RTA or another fire? Worse case they complain and the blame is put on the protestors, and not the authorities, for taking up valuable resources. There will always be an agenda on both sides, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the response was totally OTT and needless. (And possibly illegal if you believe some of the case law that has been quoted around the issue in the last 24 hours.)Report

      • Avatar Andy Warwick in reply to Scott says:

        I’ll admit I know little about how college campuses are tended in the US, but over here (the UK) you wouldn’t need the fire appliance. You’d just run a hosepipe from the groundskeeper’s shed or from the main building, attached to a tap, and turn the hose on. Our police aren’t immune to overreaction on these issues, but whatever the justification and logical reasoning as being the ‘safest’ way to deal with all sides the reaction of the general populace to this kind of response doesn’t do either side any good. At least turning a hose on someone is perceived as acceptable and—one might dare to say—quite light-hearted. Which kind of takes the wind out of the sails of either side using it as justification for increased violence.Report

      • Not to mention I can see the liberal press complaining about using hoses on poor defenseless children.

        In which case, I suppose you’d have a good answer for those complaints.  And the protesters would not have been pepper sprayed, either.

         

         Report

  9. Avatar BSK says:

    If you watch the first few seconds closely, you see the cop actually wave the can at the crowd.  It reminded me of gladiators playing to the crowd.  I wonder if it reminded the cop of that as well.  Disgusting.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to BSK says:

      Agreed.  That gesture was utterly revolting.  It simultaneously proved two things.

      First, that there wasn’t any great need for using it.  If you’re actually concerned about your personal safety, you don’t go showing off like that.

      And second, that the cop was nothing more than a sadist in uniform.

       Report

      • Avatar BSK in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        When I initially saw the video clip on the news, I didn’t see that part.  Not sure if it was edited out or if I simply looked up late.  I had an initial visceral response, but also thought, “This isn’t really anything I haven’t seen before.”  When I saw the fully clip and noticed that part, there was a whole new level of disgust.  Seriously?  It reminded me of a wrestler who has his opponent down and is working the crowd into a storm to either support or deride his “finishing move” based on whether he is the hero or heal.  This cop clearly didn’t get a hero’s treatment, yet was unmoved from what he was about to do.  Sadist is too gentle a term.Report

      • Avatar Scott in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        Jason:

        Did you ever think it was shown to the crowd to emphasize one last time that they were about to get sprayed? Of course not b/c you know better even though you weren’t even there.Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Scott says:

          Were you there?

          No?

          Then let’s reason together, shall we?  On an equal footing?

          The officer showed the can to bystanders, not to the ones he was about to spray.  Failing to notice a detail like that says to me that you didn’t even watch the video.Report

          • Avatar Scott in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

            Jason:

            I see it as showing the can to everyone involved  and he probably wanted the crowd to move back b/c the spray is not a pin point weapon and can drift. I’m sure some of the closet bystanders got a whiff of itReport

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Scott says:

              I’ve watched it again.  All I see is an individual glorying in his power to inflict pain on others. He didn’t show the can to his victims, either — they were cowering with their heads down.

               Report

              • Jason – you really should brush up on your police tactics before judging. Scott’s assesment was spot-on.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                Let’s stipulate that these are, in fact, examples of approved police tactics.

                If so, then the problem just migrates to another level — either they should not be approved police tactics, or they were not applied to a situation that merited them.

                I cannot imagine that these protesters could possibly have done a harm that is equal to or greater than the one I see in that video, being done by the police.  Harm to the protesters, harm to the First Amendment, harm to the respect that we really ought to have for the police.  (The left-wing Mike, by the way, is a good example of this latter harm.  In a slightly better society than ours, he would have no cause for his antipathy.  Unfortunately, he does have some justification today.)Report

              • Jason,

                They were ordered to disperse. They didn’t. They knew exactly what would happen. What do you think their goal was?Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                I understand that they were ordered to disperse.  As I stated in the original post (the “update” part), I do not believe that that order should have been given.

                Why not?  Because this.  That’s why.Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                Jason:

                You seem determined not to acknowledge the fact that the protestors had illegally erected tents on campus, refused a lawful order to take the tents down and another order to disperse.

                So when if ever do you have to obey the law or risk the consequences?Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                In a conflict between one set of laws (here, university policies) and another (here, the Constitution), I am inclined to err on the side of the Constitution.  Particularly when we can see so clearly the results of erring in the other direction.Report

            • Avatar Mike in reply to Scott says:

              Oh looky the big scary fascists are removing comments.

              What a surprise. Scott proves he LACKS the human quality of a conscience, like just about every one of the THUGS IN BLUE. He’s the kind of fascist monster who laughs when he finds out that there was a protester who was sprayed so severely that 45 minutes after the event he was still coughing blood.

              And the “League” just defended this subhuman, monstrous behavior. Real cute.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mike says:

                Mike, I’m leaving this comment up for only one reason.  I want to tell you in person that I deleted your other comment, and I want there to be no doubt about who did it.

                If you think that I am defending the police here, then you have really shown a distressing lack of judgment.  All across this thread, I’ve referred to them as sadistic, as un-American, as glorying in needless violence.

                But I’m also trying to run a civil community here.  It’s possible to express outrage in measured tones, and that’s what I commend to you here.Report

              • Avatar Max in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                Somebody add this joker to the “You’re Not Helping” Hall of Fame. Jesus. Every cop is a monster? Really, dude? You know what that makes you sound like? Kinda like…a fasc…Report

              • Avatar Mike in reply to Max says:

                EVERY cop is pulled from the dregs of society. They actually went and got a court ruling that they can REFUSE to hire anyone smart enough to see through what’s going on.

                In the old days, most of the so called “police force” we have today would have been the mafia leg-breakers or the guys from the not-quite-official Pinkerton’s who were called in to shoot and beat up striking union organizers.

                Today, instead, they slip into the police force. And if they don’t manage to get their weekly quota of beating “suspects”, their spouses suffer instead.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Mike says:

                That portion of my DNA contributed by late 19th century NYC Irishpersons is laughing at this comment.Report

              • Avatar Micah Torrance in reply to Mike says:

                Mike, remember that bumper sticker in the good ole days of riots, bank bombings, burning cities down, taking LSD until you’re until you’re wheeled into the nearest psych ward

                It went something like this,  “Next time you’re mugged, call a hippie!”  Let’s make a new one.  “Next time you’re mugged, call a
                Libertarian!”

                If you don’t see the necessity for a very strong police force after the Wackos Gone Wild weekend, then you simply have no concept or respect for the greatest right a human being has:
                Private Property.   It’s the beginning and end of a Civilized Civilization.  Did Hitler or Napoleon or Stalin ever defecated in public?  Himmler crapped his pants when he was being marched to justice–slimy little bastard was one step ahead of his captors and popped a  cyanide capsule to begin his date with the Devil.Report

              • Avatar mark boggs in reply to Mike says:

                Dude, it would seem that some (most) of “The League” are actually criticizing the behavior.  What they aren’t doing is keeping Scott from voicing his support for the police tactics, regardless of whether they find the tactics repugnant or not.  It is as much a right to voice his opinion as it is for those protesters to assemble peacefully.  It almost seems like you’re not getting the difference between the right of voicing an opinion and performing the act itself.

                That the “powers that be” at the League see the difference in the two sets them in stark contrast to the police who seem to think they get to dictate the how, why, and when of the protest.  And, it’s pretty consistent behavior from them.Report

  10. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Quick personality test:

    When you see this video and you think the thought “that could be me”, do you identify with:

    A) The Protesters?

    B) The Police?

    C) “I don’t think that that could be me.”Report

  11. Above Scott makes some points that I absolutely agree with:

    “If the protestors were warned to pack their tents and go but instead sat down locked arms and refused to disperse, you would really expect the cops to wrestle with each one of them and risk hurting either themselves or the protestors?  Nope, it is much safer and easier to pepper them and then zip cuff them when they release their arms to wipe their eyes. “

    I don’t know how familiar League regulars are with police tactics are so perhaps a little background. Most of the tactics used today were first developed in the 1950s and 1960s. The advancements in police tactics since them have mostly been along the lines of developing a variety of non-lethal tools to assist in crowd control (tazers, pepper spray, rubber bullets).

    With regards to methodology, very little has changed and for good reason: a mob is a mob and the first goal of police in dealing with large crowds is to prevent the formation of a mob. There are hundreds of good books out there about police tactics but one of my favorites is a work from 1950 called, “Principles of Police Work with Minority Groups”  prepared for the Louisville Police Department. I like the book because it was incredibly forward-thinking with regards to the sociology of dealing with minority groups. It’s also fascinating because it explores the psychology of the public and uses this to prescribe police tactics. As we all know, human tendencies are near-universal and often eternal.

    So how does the book describe the formation of a mob? It considers three phases:

    1) Initial Stage – An initial incident. Individuals in the milling process.

    2) Stage of collective excitement – Crowd becoming unified by circular influence. Stirred by action of key individuals.

    3) Stage of social contagion – Crowd accumulating masses of innocent bystanders as well as some trouble seekers.

    The book then suggests methods for dealing with each stage. The first stage is fact finding and containment. The second stage is key. The book prescribes three things: 

      • Adequate show of force
      •  The removal of key individuals
      • Dispersal of those who have gathered

      What we witness in the video above appears to be stage two. The folks sitting on the ground with linked arms are the ‘key individuals’. The pepper spray is the ‘show of force’. Stage three is really just an escalation of stage two but with more aggressive tactics and higher numbers of police officers. What I will also say is that stage three is where people really get hurt.

      Let me repeat an earlier point. The first goal of crowd control is ALWAYS to prevent mobs. Once a mob is formed it becomes exponentially harder to control them and often mobs result in deaths, usually of innocent bystanders. What is interesting to note though is that in 1950 the book made an observation that seems antiquated by today’s standards:

      “Such events should be adequately policed. The restraining influence of the police uniform has proved its worth on such occasions. The mere presence of numbers of uniformed officers is sufficent to prevent a conventional crowd from degenerating into an active and aggressive mob.”

      I think we can argue that today the presence of the police actually escalates the situation because ‘respect for the uniform’ has declined to historic lows. Now a cynic will say that the police lost the public’s respect first. I would say that it’s a chicken-or-egg scenario.

      I think the key point of conversation is what challenge the Occupy groups represent to public safety (if any). Do they, in the most heated moments, represent a potential threat to public safety? My inclination is to say yes and yes. The line most in need of definition is just what it looks like when they transition from peaceful assembly to mob and what we are willing to tolerate to prevent it. From my vantage point I see a  League commentariat that seems (mostly) willing to tolerate almost nothing along the lines of crowd control tactics. But is this realistic, naivety or a private hope for police/public confrontation?

       

       Report

    • Avatar mfarmer says:

      The most vicious tactic would have been to ignore them, to just announce that a lot of people will be at one place and for other citizens to deal with it until it disperses. Then the cops should have ordered pizzas and lounged by to make sure no one became violent, while playing a loud stereo of Barry Manilow’s greatest hits.

      Sadly, the great lesson from this stupid show of force  will be lost on most of these kids as they go forth and clamor for even greater expansion of State power, desperately appealing to government authority to make things right.Report

      • Avatar mark boggs in reply to mfarmer says:

        The most vicious tactic would have been to ignore them, to just announce that a lot of people will be at one place and for other citizens to deal with it until it disperses. Then the cops should have ordered pizzas and lounged by to make sure no one became violent, while playing a loud stereo of Barry Manilow’s greatest hits.

        This.  Problem solved.

        Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      Still, though, UC Davis is the Toledo Mudhens of police brutality.

      Here’s the St. Louis Cardinals.Report