Police: Use Of Pepper Spray On Unarmed Youth: ‘Compliance Tool … Fairly Standard Procedure’

1,000 UC Davis lock arms and silently shame Chancellor Katehi

**UPDATE** Interesting comment “Pixelfish. Mitchell” about the legality of pepper spray. Would love to hear from a legal expert on this…

Earlier tonight, I spoke to one UC Davis undergrad who was pepper sprayed in the face by police. The young student told me that she was unarmed, never posed a risk to the officer, and did not understand why he attacked her even after the tents on the quad were taken down. Moreover, after pepper spray entered deep into her lungs, and later got onto her eyes when she accidentally touched her face, no one from the police or the UC Davis administration helped her. At the time of our interview, no one from the admin or police even apologized or made sure she got the right medical treatment. Coughing at times during our discussion, the student said she was also disappointed that the chancellor refused to address the students massed outside of the building for the press conference this afternoon; Katehi should resign, the student added.

Watch the interview here.

NPR just posted a story about the UC Davis controversy. A police expert from Baltimore, with experience writing use of force guidelines, reviewed the tape and said the officers acted appropriately:

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.”

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.

NPR has more here.


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10 responses to “Police: Use Of Pepper Spray On Unarmed Youth: ‘Compliance Tool … Fairly Standard Procedure’

  1. Pingback: Video: Pepper Sprayed UC Davis Student Leads Peaceful Public Shaming Of School Chancellor | The Second Alarm

  2. Power to the Peaceful

    This says something and what it says makes me sick to my stomach and outraged.

  3. Maybe Charles J. Kelly shouldn’t make remarks on standard police procedure when he’s not from that jurisdiction. It’s illegal in California to use pepper spray on non-violent resisting protesters. (See Humboldt County case from 1997.)

    Also, maybe Charles J. Kelly should reflect that ong term respiratory complications that asthmatics and allergic folks will have is an equal concern. There might not be handles on the human body (although perhaps he should ask the cops at the BoA lobby in SF who quietly, methodically, and non-violently removed 80+ protesters without incident just a day prior) but there’s not labels on humans explaining that it’s okay, this dude doesn’t have asthma.

    In any case, it was brutality. It was disproportionate use of force compared to the students who were non-violently sitting with their heads bowed. There’s no way you can tell me that point blank spray is standard procedure. Add to that the accounts of students who were held down and sprayed up their shirts or down their throats….yeah, NOT STANDARD PROCEDURE. (Although if it is SP in Baltimore, I’m glad we didn’t end up moving there after all.)

    • Xen

      I absolutely agree, and applaud your citation of precedent. Chemical weapons are often mistakenly ranked light force by police departments, but they fail to train officers that less-than-lethal does not mean non-lethal or even safe, and that they might be held accountable if they act outside department policy, or state’s laws on it’s use. They routinely prefer it’s use to being physically involved with protesters in even the slightest way, and justify it’s use by saying that they are minimizing risk to officers. But in point of fact, tear-gas is an admission that these are non-violent people, as tear-gas is not used on dangerous people, because it doesn’t deter violent actions. It only makes the target more difficult to hit. Tear gas is also not used in war to avoid providing the enemy a rationale for escalating chemical weapons. So using it domestically is considered ok, because the federal government doesn’t believe people will retaliate. The bottom line is that someone needs to push for better policies on crowd control and the police should be made to take a course on civil disobedience, it’s historical context and legal implications.

      Not only is it unnecessary force to use on non-violent people in California, but there is still the issue of whether Katehi and police had a right to remove them at all, using any method. Katehi’s insistence that she informed students they needed to disperse, not only lacks credibility, since others report that UC Davis posted only large font notes, not printed on letterhead or signed by any member of the administration, but counters her earlier approval of the assembly. And the notes mentioned in reports only asked them to remove the tents. And even if she did ask them to disperse, you can’t just wave a magic wand and make people go away. You have to claim it is an unlawful assembly, and in doing so, there has to be a reasonable claim made that people’s safety is at risk, *and* you have to provide them another location, time of form of redress. This whole thing stinks, and her poor leadership is directly responsible for both police brutality and the student’s injuries as well as the violation of their civil rights.

      And finally, what did the UC Regents expect students to do? They claimed, no, vowed, they would not raise tuition again, and then made moves to do just that less than a year after a 30 percent increase. Then, they claimed to have been afraid of planned violence, and canceled the meeting before students could protest it, stating on the UC Newspress 11/14 that the new meeting forum would leave room for public commentary (because not doing so violates the UC charter). Then they secretly met via teleconference; ruled to raise tuition; and, dismissed appeals to have the meeting voted on in a public forum as dictated by the charter.

      So what form of recourse did they leave students with? The whole mess was started by suspect claims that there was planned violence against them, and yet days later, the campus police are assaulting students.

  4. “When you start picking up human bodies, you risk hurting them,” Kelly said.
    Um, yeah, and pepper spray doesn’t hurt at all.

  5. There has been progress over the past 30 years in improving the reputation of the police in the USA. Recent responses to the peaceful Occupy Movement are destroying this. Brutality in any of its forms is the last thing that the authorities should be doing … but I am afraid the bankers and the financial community have no other way to respond. The police should not be on this front line ,,, they have been ordered there by someone and that is where we should be looking for accountability.

    • shano

      You are obviously white. In minority communities Stop and Frisk is SOP.

      The global War on Drugs has caused a lot of terrible relations too. It was the start of this police militarization, 9-11 amplified it.

      Chuck Wexler, head of group that coordinated police crackdown on #Occupy serves on Dept of Homeland Security council http://is.gd/FByuu2

  6. Allan

    If pepper spraying doesn’t hurt, then why wasn’t Chancellor Katehi sprayed? I would have done that to teach her a lesson! But of course I would have been frustrated, cause it doesn’t hurt………..right?

  7. I noticed that this Chancellor speaks with a Foreign Accent, what country does she come from??….Someone should remind her that this is America and that our Constitution protects these students and that she violated that Constitutional Right to Assembly written in the first amendment of the Constitution……

    I think she should resign based on violation of the 1st Amendment of the Constitution……Or someone should shove it in her face and tell her to read it…….

    Her arrogance alone is appalling, considering the students are paying custormers….If it weren’t for the Students she wouldn’t have a job…..Then she would get that absorbent paycheck that she gets that the Students tuition pays for…..

    It is appalling and arrogance that makes these supposed Adults of Authority the morons that they are!!!!

  8. these are nazi like tactics. AS a police chaplain I ask that as a country we demonstrate against this brutal behavior. some students could die. enough is enough. reminds me of Kent State. rabbi dr. bernhard rosenberg 732 572 2766 as a university teacher I SHOUT PROTECT OUR YOUNG. THIS IS FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND THIS IS NOT EGYPT OR SYRIA. RD.

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