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.
Thanks to the numerous Boing Boing readers who @'ed or emailed this one in. It's hard to come up with an alternate narrative that explains away the impression one gets from watching this, which is "pure awful brutality."
UPDATE: Here's how much the police officer in this video, John Pike, earned in 2010. He's been an employee for a few years. And here is an open letter by UC Davis Assistant Professor Nathan Brown calling for the UC Davis Chancellor's resignation. Compare the assistant professor's pay with that of the police officer who sprayed the students. You can share your thoughts with the Chancellor here. And I've updated the post above with a second video that shows an alternate POV (thanks, Michael Van Veen). As others have noted, it's harder to enforce a media blackout when there's a wall of cellphones and digital cameras aimed at you. And here are some of the arrestees, in jail.