Showing posts with label pepper spray. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pepper spray. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

City of Keene, NH seeks "Bearcat" Military Tank; America's Police continue to Militarize

The United States appears to be rushing head-long into a full-fledged Police State. Tasers. Pepper Spray. NDAA. Drones. And now, military tanks as “police” vehicles.

On June 6, 2011, in Oakland Park, Florida, James Doe, who was 31 years old and only 130 pounds, was tasered by police while he was handcuffed and locked in the back of a cruiser. He fell limp, and was pronounced dead upon his arrival at Florida Medical Center. James was just one of 40 deaths that occur every year as a result of the unnecessary or excessive use of Taser equipment by law enforcement officials.

Backtracking: In Chicago, a team of research scientists and doctors at the Cook County hospital trauma center stunned 6 pigs with two 40-second Taser discharges. All six animals exhibited heart rhythm problems. Two subsequently died of cardiac arrest. A San Francisco cardiologist and electrophysiologist, Dr. Zian Tseng, determined that a healthy individual could die from a Taser discharge, depending on electrode placement on the chest and pulse timing. Taser International then contacted him, asking him to reconsider his statements to the media on the subject, and then offered him “funding” to further his research. CBC News Story.

But Taser International is hardly the only private firm that profits by militarizing local police forces.

This Blog has been particularly critical of the increasing use of Pepper-Spray by Police forces. Excessive and indiscriminate use of the chemical has been used with increased frequency across the nation, particualarly at Occupy Protests; several photos and videos that caught pepper spray incidents in New York and at U. California–Davis went viral and heightened public attention and condemnation of the practice.

(see U C Davis Pepper Spray and NYPD Pepper Spray )

Police reactions in both cases initially consisted of lies and cover ups which couldn’t stand up to the evidence in the videos, and the officers in both of those cases were disciplined. Unfortunately, even as I write this, the state of Florida is now investigating the case of Nick Christie, a 62-year old mentally ill man who was bound, restrained and tied to a chair in a Flordia jail and coated with pepper spray in 2009. He died two days later.

Pepper spray was approved in the US for police use in spite of objections by US military scientists in 1991, and is now in use in 2,000 local jurisdictions. Subsequent to that approval, it was discovered that Thomas W. Ward, the head of the FBI's Less-Than-Lethal Weapons Program who approved pepper spray’s use on civilians, received payments from Luckey Police Products, a pepper spray manufacturer, while authoring the FBI study that led to its use. Ward received $57,500 in increments of $5,000 a month paid through his wife. He was sentenced to two months in prison.

In the meantime, various courts have declared its use to be cruel and excessive, and twelve citizens die each year from pepper-spray induced asthma attacks or asphyxiation.

News of the increased militarization and forcefulness on the part of American officers “of the peace” are accelerating with frightening speed. Congress recently passed the NDAA bill, permitting the military to detain US citizens without trial or charge indefinitely; the Obama administration has admitted to the expanded use of spy drones over the United States; and after the Super Bowl this past weekend, state and local police arrived in riot gear and on horseback at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst campus, “in anticipation” of student crowds. When the police decided the crowd on the public, state-owned property was "too big,” they moved in and dispersed students who, up to that moment, had broken no law and caused no damage.

And so, in this atmosphere of the growing American Police State, the city Council of Keene, New Hampshire has attempted to purchase a military tank, without public input, for the purposes of “rescue missions."

The City of Keene recently announced that its would use a grant of $285,933 from the Department of Homeland Security to purchase a "Bearcat" vehicle from LENCO, a company that prides itself on developing and selling vehicles for military and SWAT-team use. Of 15 City Councilors, only one – Terry M. Clark – opposed the purchase.

After the Council vote, citizen response was swift. A petition in opposition to acquiring the Bearcat was delivered to the City Council, signed by 144 residents. The opposition has crossed political lines, uniting conservatives, liberals, and libertarians. Initially, the City Council decided that they would simply “accept” the petition without discussing the issue again. Council Member Terry Clark then formally requested that the issue be returned to the City’s Finance Committee for a public hearing; the Council agreed, and this Thursday, Feb 9 at 5:30 pm the first public hearing on the issue will be held.

In the meantime, LENCO is attempting to backtrack. The Bearcat purchase is being ‘recast’ as an effort to purchase a “rescue” vehicle that will help Keene citizens in need. The LENCO website, however, approaches this issue quite differently. On its Website advertising six varieties of Bearcats (its domain name is, tellingly, “”), LENCO describes the vehicles as having the following attributes:

“Primary APC used by SWAT & SRT, Military Police, and Security Forces”

“Designed for Military personnel. Military-style turret can be configured for .50 caliber Dillon Mini-Guns and CROWS.”

“All Military Spec Steel construction. Currently used by SWAT and Special Op Teams at high security facilities.”

“V-Hull Blast Shield protects against grenades and IED attacks”

None of these sounds like the attributes of a “rescue” vehicle. In fact, LENCO had a video advertisement on YouTube that promoted its product: it showed military and SWAT teams exiting the vehicle, firing military weapons, drilling holes through house walls, and spraying toxic gases.

In the heat of the controversy, LENCO pulled the video ad off of YouTube.

But thanks to our friends at CopBlock, the video is included here. You watch, and you decide, whether this is a “rescue” vehicle or another military toy to facilitate the police state’s intimidation and control over the citizenry:


Sunday, November 20, 2011

UC Davis Police Lie re: Pepper-Spray outrage; Facts and Law suggest Officer Pike is Liable

The video (in post below) of the unprovoked pepper-spray attack on peaceful protesters at UC Davis by Lt. Pike has now gone viral, being picked up even by the major news outlets that have so far offered cavalier and tepid coverage to the Occupy movement. Accordingly, the official police “spin” of the unprovoked pepper-spraying has begun.

Charles J. Kelly, a former Baltimore Police Department lieutenant who wrote the department's use of force guidelines, said pepper spray is a "compliance tool" that can be used on subjects who do not resist, and is preferable to simply lifting protesters.

"When you start picking up human bodies, you risk hurting them," Kelly said. "Bodies don't have handles on them." (How considerate of him to prefer chemical warfare as against traditional police work.)

After reviewing the video, Kelly said he observed at least two cases of "active resistance" from protesters. In one instance, a woman pulls her arm back from an officer. In the second instance, a protester curls into a ball. Each of those actions could have warranted more force, including baton strikes and pressure-point techniques.

"What I'm looking at is fairly standard police procedure,"
Kelly said.

UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza said the decision to use pepper spray was made at the scene.

"The students had encircled the officers," she said Saturday. "They needed to exit. They were looking to leave but were unable to get out." A similar statement suggested that the Officers were "cut off" from their "support."

The above statements are the Lies of a Gestapo Police State attempting to cover its collective ass.

Watch the Video.

1) The students had not ‘encircled the officers.’ At least 8 officers are clearly visible to the left of all pictures and videos. Clad in riot gear with guns, batons, and chemical agents, they had a clear path of exit behind them. They were not looking to exit.

2) Even if they needed to exit, the officer sprayed students sitting on the ground, not students standing in their way.

3) When they left, the exited in the opposite direction of where the students were seated.

4) They DID hurt people…two students ended up hospitalized for chemical burns; one was still coughing up blood 45 minutes after the attack.

5) Bodies may not “have handles,” but the Police found a way to force open the mouth of one protester and spray down his throat, in spite of manufacturers warning that pepper spray should not be used – even by law authority – less than three feet from the victim.

What IS true, as Kelly said, is that this has become “fairly standard police procedure.” Unfortunately, we don’t often pay attention, because the police are brutalizing suspected criminals, drug users, prostitutes, and individuals that “nice people” don't care too much about (unfortunately).

But now they’ve gone public. In the few weeks of the Occupy Movement, we’ve seen:

Four young women “kettled” behind orange fencing and sprayed in the face in NYC;

An 84-year old in Seattle sprayed for not moving fast enough;

A young man’s head profusely bleeding from baton brutalization (The ridiculously slanted NY Daily News had a headline blaming the victim for creating a “Bloody Nuisance.”)

Seated, peaceful students at UC Davis sprayed in the face.

Scott Olson, an Iraqi war veteran shot in the head in Oakland, with resultant fractured skull and speech difficulties, whose injuries were ignored by the police who caused them.

Kayvan Sabeghi, another Iraqi War Veteran, chased and pursued by an Oakland officer who beat him with a billyclub.

Press beaten, detained, and having their press passes confiscated by NYPD officers refusing to give names or badges.

A suspect in a parking garage brutally kicked 13 times, and now hospitalized in critical condition.

A NYC Police trial where undercover investigators admitted to routinely planting drugs on innocent suspects in order to meet an arrest quota.

This is Your Police State, Amerika….

This, in spite of clear 9th Circuit Federal Court Guidelines against such brutality:


No. 98-17250. January 11, 2002
Before:  BRIGHT,PREGERSON, and W. FLETCHER, Circuit Judges.
"During three nonviolent protests against the logging of ancient redwood trees in the Headwaters Forest, plaintiffs-appellants (“protestors”) linked themselves together with self-releasing lock-down devices known as “black bears…

… Beginning in the fall of 1997, defendants began using olesoresin capsicum aerosol (“OC” or “pepper spray”) to cause the protestors to release themselves from the “black bears.” The use of pepper spray under these circumstances was entirely unprecedented:  in California, its use was “limited to controlling hostile or violent subjects” and it had never been used in Humboldt County, the State of California, or anywhere in the country against nonviolent protestors.

At issue in this case are three protests that occurred in the fall of 1997, in which defendants used pepper spray on the protestors, and then refused to give them water to wash out their eyes, in order to force the protestors to release themselves from the “black bears.”

...We...conclude that it would be clear to a reasonable officer that using pepper spray against the protestors was excessive under the circumstances. The Fourth Amendment permits law enforcement officers to use only such force to effect an arrest as is “objectively reasonable” under the circumstances.  Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 397, 109 S.Ct. 1865, 104 L.Ed.2d 443 (1989) (citations omitted).   “[T]he essence of the Graham objective reasonableness analysis” is that “ ‘[t]he force which was applied must be balanced against the need for that force:  it is the need for force which is at the heart of the Graham factors.’ ”  Liston v. County of Riverside, 120 F.3d 965, 976 (9th Cir.1997) (quoting Alexander v. City and County of San Francisco, 29 F.3d 1355, 1367 (9th Cir.1994)) The facts reflect that:  (1) the pepper spray was unnecessary to subdue, remove, or arrest the protestors;  (2) the officers could safely and quickly remove the protestors, while in “black bears,” from protest sites;  and (3) the officers could remove the “black bears” with electric grinders in a matter of minutes and without causing pain or injury to the protestors.

Defendants asserted at trial that the protestors' use of “black bears” constituted “ ‘active’ resistance to arrest,' ” meriting the use of force.   The Eureka Police Department defines “active resistance” as occurring when the “subject is attempting to interfere with the officer's actions by inflicting pain or physical injury to the officer without the use of a weapon or object.” 240 F.3d at 1202-3.   Characterizing the protestors' activities as “active resistance” is contrary to the facts of the case, viewing them, as we must, in the light most favorable to the protestors:  the protestors were sitting peacefully, were easily moved by the police, and did not threaten or harm the officers. In sum, it would be clear to a reasonable officer that it was excessive to use pepper spray against the nonviolent protestors under these circumstances.

Defendants' repeated use of pepper spray was also clearly unreasonable.   As we recently concluded, the use of pepper spray “may be reasonable as a general policy to bring an arrestee under control, but in a situation in which an arrestee surrenders and is rendered helpless, any reasonable officer would know that a continued use of the weapon or a refusal without cause to alleviate its harmful effects constitutes excessive force.”  LaLonde v. County of Riverside, 204 F.3d 947, 961 (9th Cir.2000)… Finally, it would have been clear to any reasonable officer that defendants' refusal to wash out the protestors' eyes with water constituted excessive force under the circumstances."
The Court concluded by reaffirming its decision that in spite of Police generally being immune from lawsuits, they were, in fact, liable for such an unnecessary and egregious use of force:

"...we conclude that Philip and Lewis are not entitled to qualified immunity because the use of pepper spray on the protestors' eyes and faces was plainly in excess of the force necessary under the circumstances, and no reasonable officer could have concluded otherwise."

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Peaceful UC Davis Students sitting on ground Pepper-Sprayed by Police; Call for Chacellor's Resignation

In yet one more incident of police state terrorism, students peacefully sitting on the ground were pepper-sprayed by police. The unbelievable footage of this raw abuse of authority was captured clearly on the below video:

The Assaulting Officer:

Lieutenant John Pike

Police around the nation have been arrogant and brutal in their efforts to squash growing protests. Officers, "Following Orders" is no longer an excuse. Take heed: Americans are not going to simply turn tail and run.

The U S. Declaration of Independence:

when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government

NH Constitution, Article 10 - Right of Revolution:

Government being instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security, of the whole community, and not for the private interest or emolument of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or establish a new government. The doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind. The Tennessee and North Carolina Constitutions say the same.

Police: Do you hear this? Those of us who were raised as patriotic Americans will NOT slink away into silent obedience in the face of tyranny.

18 November 2011

Linda P.B. Katehi,

I am a junior faculty member at UC Davis. I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, and I teach in the Program in Critical Theory and in Science & Technology Studies. I have a strong record of research, teaching, and service. I am currently a Board Member of the Davis Faculty Association. I have also taken an active role in supporting the student movement to defend public education on our campus and throughout the UC system. In a word: I am the sort of young faculty member, like many of my colleagues, this campus needs. I am an asset to the University of California at Davis.

You are not.

I write to you and to my colleagues for three reasons:

1) to express my outrage at the police brutality which occurred against students engaged in peaceful protest on the UC Davis campus today

2) to hold you accountable for this police brutality

3) to demand your immediate resignation

Today you ordered police onto our campus to clear student protesters from the quad. These were protesters who participated in a rally speaking out against tuition increases and police brutality on UC campuses on Tuesday—a rally that I organized, and which was endorsed by the Davis Faculty Association. These students attended that rally in response to a call for solidarity from students and faculty who were bludgeoned with batons, hospitalized, and arrested at UC Berkeley last week. In the highest tradition of non-violent civil disobedience, those protesters had linked arms and held their ground in defense of tents they set up beside Sproul Hall. In a gesture of solidarity with those students and faculty, and in solidarity with the national Occupy movement, students at UC Davis set up tents on the main quad. When you ordered police outfitted with riot helmets, brandishing batons and teargas guns to remove their tents today, those students sat down on the ground in a circle and linked arms to protect them.

What happened next?

Without any provocation whatsoever, other than the bodies of these students sitting where they were on the ground, with their arms linked, police pepper-sprayed students. Students remained on the ground, now writhing in pain, with their arms linked.

What happened next?

Police used batons to try to push the students apart. Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood.

This is what happened. You are responsible for it.

You are responsible for it because this is what happens when UC Chancellors order police onto our campuses to disperse peaceful protesters through the use of force: students get hurt. Faculty get hurt. One of the most inspiring things (inspiring for those of us who care about students who assert their rights to free speech and peaceful assembly) about the demonstration in Berkeley on November 9 is that UC Berkeley faculty stood together with students, their arms linked together. Associate Professor of English Celeste Langan was grabbed by her hair, thrown on the ground, and arrested. Associate Professor Geoffrey O’Brien was injured by baton blows. Professor Robert Hass, former Poet Laureate of the United States, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner, was also struck with a baton. These faculty stood together with students in solidarity, and they too were beaten and arrested by the police. In writing this letter, I stand together with those faculty and with the students they supported.

One week after this happened at UC Berkeley, you ordered police to clear tents from the quad at UC Davis. When students responded in the same way—linking arms and holding their ground—police also responded in the same way: with violent force. The fact is: the administration of UC campuses systematically uses police brutality to terrorize students and faculty, to crush political dissent on our campuses, and to suppress free speech and peaceful assembly. Many people know this. Many more people are learning it very quickly.

You are responsible for the police violence directed against students on the UC Davis quad on November 18, 2011. As I said, I am writing to hold you responsible and to demand your immediate resignation on these grounds.

On Wednesday November 16, you issued a letter by email to the campus community. In this letter, you discussed a hate crime which occurred at UC Davis on Sunday November 13. In this letter, you express concern about the safety of our students. You write, “it is particularly disturbing that such an act of intolerance should occur at a time when the campus community is working to create a safe and inviting space for all our students.” You write, “while these are turbulent economic times, as a campus community, we must all be committed to a safe, welcoming environment that advances our efforts to diversity and excellence at UC Davis.”

I will leave it to my colleagues and every reader of this letter to decide what poses a greater threat to “a safe and inviting space for all our students” or “a safe, welcoming environment” at UC Davis: 1) Setting up tents on the quad in solidarity with faculty and students brutalized by police at UC Berkeley? or 2) Sending in riot police to disperse students with batons, pepper-spray, and tear-gas guns, while those students sit peacefully on the ground with their arms linked? Is this what you have in mind when you refer to creating “a safe and inviting space?” Is this what you have in mind when you express commitment to “a safe, welcoming environment?”

I am writing to tell you in no uncertain terms that there must be space for protest on our campus. There must be space for political dissent on our campus. There must be space for civil disobedience on our campus. There must be space for students to assert their right to decide on the form of their protest, their dissent, and their civil disobedience—including the simple act of setting up tents in solidarity with other students who have done so. There must be space for protest and dissent, especially, when the object of protest and dissent is police brutality itself. You may not order police to forcefully disperse student protesters peacefully protesting police brutality. You may not do so. It is not an option available to you as the Chancellor of a UC campus. That is why I am calling for your immediate resignation.

Your words express concern for the safety of our students. Your actions express no concern whatsoever for the safety of our students. I deduce from this discrepancy that you are not, in fact, concerned about the safety of our students. Your actions directly threaten the safety of our students. And I want you to know that this is clear. It is clear to anyone who reads your campus emails concerning our “Principles of Community” and who also takes the time to inform themselves about your actions. You should bear in mind that when you send emails to the UC Davis community, you address a body of faculty and students who are well trained to see through rhetoric that evinces care for students while implicitly threatening them. I see through your rhetoric very clearly. You also write to a campus community that knows how to speak truth to power. That is what I am doing.

I call for your resignation because you are unfit to do your job. You are unfit to ensure the safety of students at UC Davis. In fact: you are the primary threat to the safety of students at UC Davis. As such, I call upon you to resign immediately.


Nathan Brown
Assistant Professor
Department of English
Program in Critical Theory
University of California at Davis