Back in April, we learned that UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi had hired a sleazy "reputation-management" company to scrub her reputation and that of the university after the 2011 incident in which university police lieutenant John Pike hosed down peaceful protesters with pepper spray, jetting chemical irritant directly into their open mouths and eyes. Read the rest “UC Davis Chancellor spent $400K+ to scrub her online reputation after pepper-spray incident”
As Rob noted, Lt John Pike, the UC Davis campus cop who attained infamy by casually walking a line of student protesters, pepper-spraying them at point-blank range, has been fired. He has been on administrative leave since the incident since the incident last November, and the university has paid him over $76,000 of his $110,243.12 salary during that period. Read the rest “Nine months and $76,000 later, UC Davis's Pepper-Spray Pike is fired”
The nice people at the Guardian invited me to write an op-ed about the meme-ification of Lt. John Pike's unforgettable act of brutality against UC Davis students last Friday.
Read the rest “Pepper-spraying cop gets Photoshop justice: Xeni's Guardian op-ed on meme-ing of UC Davis police brutality”
Photoshop out the students from that picture with your mind. Forget about Pike's uniform, let's say he's just wearing street clothes. Now, instead of a policeman spraying a less-lethal chemical weapon down the throats of peacefully seated 20-year-olds, you might be able to interpret this tableau as a figure sauntering through a garden, spraying weeds. Or maybe he's your paunchy, moustached uncle, nonchalantly dousing bugs in the basement with insecticide.
One way the internet deals with that kind of upsetting dissonance is to mock it. And that's what the internet has done with Pike. The "casually pepper-spraying cop" is now a meme, a kind of folk art or shared visual joke that is open to sharing and reinterpretation by anyone. This particular meme has spread with unusual velocity – in part, I imagine, because the subject matter is just as weird as it is upsetting.
Even Kamran Loghman, one of the men who developed pepper spray as a weapon with the FBI in the 1980s, had a hard time reconciling it. "I have never seen such an inappropriate and improper use of chemical agents," Loghman told the New York Times. And Loghman might add "insouciant" to that list of adjectives. I mean, look at the guy. He's not braced for imminent attack by a foe; he does not move with tension as if navigating a hostile environment.
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
(Thanks, Jay!) Read the rest “UC Davis course catalog, pepper spray edition”
Photo: Ramon Solis
Hard to estimate numbers, but by some accounts, well over 15,000 students and supporters are gathered at UC Davis for a rally and Occupy GA right now, following an incident Friday in which a police officer pepper-sprayed peaceful, seated student protesters at point blank range.
Here's a Twitter list to follow. Reporter Cory Golden from the Davis Enterprise is there, as is Doug Sovern from KCBS radio.
Above, a photograph by student journalist Ramon Solis, who has been tirelessly covering the events at UC Davis: a bouquet of carnations, bound together with #OWS tent-poles.
And below, again shot by Ramon just now: Occupy Lulz-themed signs carried by protesters, with image macros making fun of the grim scene just days ago at the very ground on which they're standing. Recursion overload.
You should follow Ramon, too.
Update: Katehi apologizes but doesn't resign.
Photo: Ramon Solis
Interview with a pepper-sprayed UC Davis student
Police officer pepper-sprays seated, non-violent students at UC Davis
After pepper-spraying incident, UC Davis redesigns website
One day after pepper-spraying, UC Davis students silently ...
After police violence, UC Davis students plan large rally Monday ... Read the rest “Massive rally at UC Davis, some protesters carrying "pepper-spraying cop" meme-signs”
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 Read the rest “Measuring Pepper Spray on the Scoville scale of chili pepper hotness”
Photo:Brian Nguyen/The Aggie.
22-year-old UC Davis student W. (name withheld by request) was one of the students pepper-sprayed at point-blank range Friday by Lt. John Pike while seated on the ground, arms linked and silent.
W. tells Boing Boing that Pike sprayed them at close range with military-grade pepper spray, in a punitive manner. Pike knew the students by name from Thursday night when they "occupied" a campus plaza. The students offered Pike food and coffee and chatted with him and other officers while setting up tents. On Friday, UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi told students they had to remove their #OWS tents for unspecified "health and safety" reasons.
"Move or we're going to shoot you," Pike is reported to have yelled at one student right before delivering pepper spray. Then, turning to his fellow officers and brandishing the can in the air, "Don't worry, I'm going to spray these kids down."
Photo:Brian Nguyen/The Aggie.
XJ: So, we see in the videos and photos that you were one of the students pepper-sprayed by Lieutenant John Pike yesterday. How are you doing today?
W: I still have a burning sensation in my throat, lips and nose, especially when I start coughing, or when I'm lying in bed. Everyone who got sprayed has sustained effects like this.
XJ: Can you tell us how it happened, from where you were sitting?
W: I'd pulled my beanie hat over my eyes, to protect my eyes. I received a lot of pepper spray in my throat. Read the rest “Interview with a pepper-sprayed UC Davis student”
I thought I wouldn't see a more dramatic video than the ones yesterday of the pepper-spraying of students by police at UC Davis. I was wrong.
In the video above, UC Davis students, silent, with linked arms, confront Chancellor Linda Katehi just one day after the incident. It's hard to tell exactly how many of them are present, but there they are, a huge crowd. They're seated in the same cross-legged-on-the-ground position their fellow students were yesterday just before Lt. John Pike pulled out a can of pepper spray and pulled the trigger.
Note that Katehi remains silent during what looks like her perp walk. She does not acknowledge the presence of the students. And yet, within an hour she was live on CNN explaining away the pepper-spray incident to host Don Lemon, who had to cut her off a few times because her responses were so long-winded.
Student videographer Anna Sturla shot the video above for the Davis Senior High School's newspaper/website's, The HUB.
More at The Second Alarm blog:
Read the rest “One day after pepper-spraying, UC Davis students silently, peacefully confront Chancellor Katehi”
A pretty remarkable thing just happened. A press conference, scheduled for 2:00pm between the UC Davis Chancellor and police on campus, did not end at 2:30. Instead, a mass of Occupy Davis students and sympathizers mobilized outside, demanding to have their voice heard. After some initial confusion, UC Chancellor Linda Katehi refused to leave the building, attempting to give the media the impression that the students were somehow holding her hostage.
A group of highly organized students formed large gap for the chancellor to leave.