Have you heard the latest? Turns out that advice columnist, art historian, and pepper spray aficionado Lt. John Pike was entirely justified in slathering those UC Davis students with pepper spray because the students had the police surrounded! That’s right, wingnuts from across the web have seized upon an interview with pepper spray victim Elli Pearson on Democracy Now! to justify the police response (of course, to wingnuts, the only legitimate function of government is hippie-punching, so perhaps we should take this all with a grain of organic sea salt). And what did Ms. Pearson say that was so damning? Only this (cue dramatic music):
AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to Elli Pearson. Elli, describe exactly what happened on Friday.
ELLI PEARSON: Well, we were protesting together, and the riot cops came at us, and we linked arms and sat down peacefully to protest their presence on our campus. And at one point, they were—we had encircled them, and they were trying to leave, and they were trying to clear a path. And so, we sat down, linked arms, and said that if they wanted to clear the path, they would have to go through us. But we were on the ground, you know, heads down. And all I could see was people telling me to cover my head, protect myself, and put my head down. And the next thing I know, I was pepper-sprayed.
Did you catch that? Those sneaky, passively resisting students had those heavily armed riot police encircled! It was just like the Alamo. Or Little Big Horn. Or Dien Bien Phu. The cops practically had to blast their way out.
Let’s take a look at the actual footage.
At 2:20, could that be Pepper Spray Cop Lt. John Pike STEPPING OVER the students before spraying them? Why yes it is. You mean that he stepped easily out of the encirclement (or into it?) before spraying the students? And are there not cops on BOTH sides of the students? It seems that once again nasty old reality is here to rain on the wingnut fail parade.
This whole episode reminded me of something that Ed wrote the other day at Ginandtacos.
I can’t say it surprised me that people defended the cop. There are always people who will defend the cop. Believe it or not, I was taken aback by just how stupid their arguments were even though such things should not surprise me anymore. Most of all, though, it’s amazing the extent to which these people who believe that government is pure evil will argue that A) the role of the citizen relative to the police is one of absolute, unquestioning obedience, B) the police are to be taken at their word at all times, and C) whatever type and amount of force the police choose to use is inherently right.