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Video of Cop Viciously Pepper-Spraying Sitting Students Goes Viral: UC Davis

By Joshua Holland for Alternet

November 18, 2011

In this video, a group of college students are huddled on the ground in a defensive position at UC Davis on November 18. An officer, later identified as UC police Lt. John Pike, then casually douses them with a chemical agent. You’ll note that a number of bystanders who were simply watching what was going on are also exposed.

Assuming the police had legal grounds to make arrests, it seems apparent from the video that little or no force was necessary to achieve that goal. The students are obviously not a threat to the officers. It appears that the heavily armored riot police could have simply grabbed them and put them in flexi-cuffs had they chosen to do so. That means that this entire assault appears to be a perfect example of excessive force.

Via Twitter, Boing Boing’s Xeni Jardin reports that there were 10 arrests, and one female student was hospitalized for chemical burns.

The most troubling part of the video, perhaps, is the way the officer identified as Lt. Pike flourishes the weapon, like a sommelier displaying a fine wine, before deploying it at the students.

Yet the video actually has an uplifting ending. The students displayed the immense power of nonviolence by remaining calm and then telling the heavily armed police that they will allow them to leave peacefully if they so desire. And the officers do just that, slinking away chastened, it seems, by the young protesters’ resolve.

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