Monday, November 21, 2011

Lt. John Pike

"It looks as though he’s spraying weeds in the garden or coating the oven with caustic cleanser. It’s not just the casual, dispassionate manner in which the University of California at Davis police officer pepper-sprays a line of passive students sitting on the ground. It’s the way the can becomes merely a tool, an implement that diminishes the humanity of the students and widens a terrifying gulf between the police and the people whom they are entrusted to protect.

The spraying is slow and deliberate, one face after another, down the line. It is the multiple victims that makes it so chilling, recalling the mechanization of violence during the 20th century. Pepper spray, of course, isn’t meant to be lethal, and it was deployed during an effort to enforce university policy rather than a state-sanctioned campaign of violence. But the apparent absence of empathy from the police officer, applying a toxic chemical to humans as if they were garden pests, is shocking. Even more so because it is a university police officer."

-- Philip Kennicott, Washington Post

And here's what the writer James Baldwin said in the New York Times in the 60s, about Jim Clark, an Alabama sheriff and opponent of civil rights who commanded state troopers who viciously attacked peaceful protesters:
"[Clark] cannot be dismissed as a total monster; I am sure he loves his wife and children and likes to get drunk. One has to assume that he is a man like me... Something awful must have happened to a human being to be able to put a cattle prod against a woman's breasts. What happens to the woman is ghastly. What happens to the man who does it is in some ways much, much worse."

2 comments:

Richard Mercer said...

I think part of the problem is that they are campus policemen. They aren't real cops.
You've probably heard of the incident in Oakland, CA about a year ago, when a BART cop killed a homeless man. (BART is Bay Area Rapid Transit)
My own experience with San Francisco Airport police, when I was a cab driver, is more evidence, to me, that these private police forces are often not well qualified.

Pepper spraying those students who were being passive can't be excused. It just wrong.

Eternally hopeful said...

No excuses! Brutality is still brutality and incompetents should not be armed. Always, always, always, QUESTION AUTHORITY.