Amy Goodman interviews Kamran Loghman, inventor of modern pepper spray and developer of police procedures for its use. Loghman regrets his work today, and says it's "fashionable" to use chemical agents on "people who have an opinion":
It is becoming more and more fashionable right now, this day and age, to use chemical on people who have an opinion. And that to me is a complete lack of leadership both in the police department and other people who cannot really deal with the root of the problem and they want to spray people to quiet them down. And it’s really not supposed to be that. It’s not a thing that solves any problem nor is it something that quiets people down.”
Pepper Spray Developer: It Has Become Fashionable to Use Chemicals on People with Opinions
(via Naked Capitalism)
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The casual and close-range use of pepper spray on nonviolent protesters: It's not just morally bankrupt, it's also not evidence based!
Judy Stone is a doctor, infectious disease specialist, and the author of a book on how to properly conduct clinical research. She's got a guest post on Scientific American blog network looking at the scientific research that's been done to document the effects and safety of pepper spray, and how to treat exposure to pepper spray.
Shorter version: The evidence basis behind the use of pepper spray, especially in the sort of contexts one is actually likely to encounter in the real world, is woefully limited. (It's a lot like tasers that way. In both cases, the research that does exist has mostly been done using physically fit, healthy, adult subjects who are not emotionally or physically distressed in any way at the moment they are hit. They're also being hit using manufacturer recommended dosages and distances of application. Real-world data suggests there's a MASSIVE difference between the effects of that sort of scenario and, say, a terrified teenager being shot in the face at point-blank range. Or an old woman who has been walking quickly, trying to get away from police. Just to throw some hypotheticals out there.) Meanwhile, the evidence that does exist strongly suggests that police forces are currently using pepper spray in ways that are inappropriate and unsafe. Evidence. Not opinion.
Also: Liquid antacids seem to be the best way to alleviate the effects of pepper spray. Read the rest
UC Davis music professor Bob Ostertag has written a savagely brilliant editorial in the Huffington Post, denouncing the use of military-style force by campus police, in particular the now-infamous point-blank chemical weapons attack on peaceful students on the UC Davis campus. Ostertag dissects the "health and safety" arguments put forward by the administration, the excuse that "no other options" were available to the administration, the "outside agitator" fearmongering, and the intellectually dishonest equivocating of passive, nonviolent resistance with violence. Xeni linked to this in passing this weekend, but it is such a blazing piece of de-bullshitification that I want to give it its own post.
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Could Chancellor Katehi please explain what "serious health and safety concerns" were posed at Davis that were absent at Columbia? The only thing that involved a "serious health and safety concern" at Davis yesterday was the pepper spray. I just spoke with a doctor who works for the California Department of Corrections, who participated in a recent review of the medical literature on pepper spray for the CDC. They concluded that the medical consequences of pepper spray are poorly understood but involve serious health risk. As with chili peppers, some people tolerate pepper spray well, while others have extreme reactions. It is not known why this is the case. As a result, if a doctor sees pepper spray used in a prison, he or she is required to file a written report. And regulations prohibit the use of pepper spray on inmates in all circumstances other than the immediate threat of violence.
From Jay Rosen, "Excerpt from UC Davis 2010-2012 General Catalog":
176. Introduction to Pepper Spray. (3) Lecture— 3 hours. Prerequisite: Crowd Control Through Chemicals 122B. Basic uses of pepper spray in threatening, semi-threatening and completely non-threatening and utterly peaceful situations. Common spraying techniques. Overview of rationalization methods. Color choices. Jackboot styles.
177. Advanced Pepper Spraying. (3) Lecture— 3 hours. Prerequisite: Introduction to Pepper Spray 176. Calculating optimum angles in spraying situations. Spraying seated vs. standing persons. History and development of chemical warfare against inconvenient demonstrations. Elements of CYA: basics and best practices.
178: Pepper Spray Practicum. (3). Laboratory— 3 hours. Prerequisite: Advanced Pepper Spraying 177. Working in teams, students locate sites where individuals are exercising so-called First Amendment rights and develop a strategy for spraying them. Emphasis on intimidation and staying calm under awesome hippie threat. Teams are held responsible for escaping responsibility and insulating higher-ups.
Excerpt from UC Davis 2010-2012 General Catalog
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By artist and illustrator Bob Staake, whose work you may have seen on the cover of the New Yorker. Gonna have to add this one to the meme-stack. As I post this, word's coming in that the ACLU has just delivered a letter of condemnation to UC Davis chancellor Katehi. Read the rest
If you're heading out to an Occupation today AND you're a fan of tasty, tasty chili peppers, you'll want to read Deborah Blum
's "About Pepper" essay in Scientific American
The reason pepper-spray ends up on the Scoville chart is that – you probably guessed this - it’s literally derived from pepper chemistry, the compounds that make habaneros so much more formidable than the comparatively wimpy bells. Those compounds are called capsaicins and – in fact – pepper spray is more formally called Oleoresin Capsicum or OC Spray.
But we’ve taken to calling it pepper spray, I think, because that makes it sound so much more benign than it really is, like something just a grade or so above what we might mix up in a home kitchen. The description hints maybe at that eye-stinging effect that the cook occasionally experiences when making something like a jalapeno-based salsa, a little burn, nothing too serious.
Until you look it up on the Scoville scale and remember, as toxicologists love to point out, that the dose makes the poison.
World's hottest pepper plants for sale - Boing Boing
Growing the Poison Pepper - Boing Boing
Chili peppers' surprising pain relief - Boing Boing
Weaponized Chili Peppers - Boing Boing
Chili pepper science - Boing Boing
Taste testing the world's hottest pepper - Boing Boing
Chili peppers burn your butt: Making sense of "duh" discoveries ...
Taste test: Togarashi - Boing Boing
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[Video Link, by terrydatiger, and Video Link 2, by jamiehall1516].
At the University of California at Davis this afternoon, police tore down down the tents of students inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, and arrested those who stood in their way. Others peacefully demanded that police release the arrested.
In the video above, you see a police officer [Update: UC Davis Police Lt. John Pike] walk down a line of those young people seated quietly on the ground in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, and spray them all with pepper spray at very close range. He is clearing a path for fellow officers to walk through and arrest more students, but it's as if he's dousing a row of bugs with insecticide.
Wayne Tilcock of the Davis-Enterprise newspaper has a gallery of photographs from the incident, including the image thumbnailed above (larger size at davisenterprise.com). Ten people in this scene were arrested, nine of whom were current UC Davis students. At least one woman is reported to have been taken away in an ambulance with chemical burns.
This 8-minute video was uploaded just a few hours ago, and has already become something of an iconic, viral emblem accross the web. We're flooded with eyewitness footage from OWS protests right now, but this one certainly feels like an important one, in part because of what the crowd does after the kids are pepper-sprayed. Watch the whole thing. Read the rest