An open letter to those who have expressed outrage over the recent video from UC Davis:
Dear people who think that the application of pepper spray is a “chilling” act of “violence” against “peaceful protesters:”
If the police give you a lawful order to leave an area in which you do not have the right to remain, you must leave. If you do not leave, you will be placed under arrest. If you resist this arrest, either actively or passively, you will still be removed. The police will not go away. It is their job to enforce the law, and you are breaking the law.
If you have linked your arms together with a dozen other people so that the police cannot remove you, they have two choices: apply pressure points and control holds in order to induce enough pain that you will give up, or deploy some sort of tool to accomplish the same result. The police cannot read your mind, and they do not know if you will fight with them if they attempt to remove you with pressure points and control holds. The risk of injury to them, and to you, instantly goes up, and they have to worry about all of the other people present. The police are concerned about your safety and the safety of all the other people present, as well as their own. They have no more desire to get injured than you, and there is a risk of injury any time the police are required to physically compel someone to comply with arrest.
Pepper spray, though painful, WILL NOT cause serious injury if applied correctly… and deploying it from a large-volume can from eighteen inches away is a correct application. This is not an act of “brutality,” nor is it indicative of any sort of “police state.” The police, by and large, are professionals, and the cause for which you are breaking the law does not matter to them. The fact that you are breaking the law DOES. Again, it is their job to enforce the law. Enforcing the law includes making arrests, and the use of force to effect arrest, if necessary.
The bottom line is this: no matter how “peaceful” the protester, if they are violating the law, they are subject to arrest. If they resist this arrest, the police will effect their arrest in whatever way is safest for all involved. Peacefully violating the law is still violating the law. Do not blame the police for doing their job.