Yesterday, my friend Mike posted this link to a fifteen minute video showing the context of the pepper spray incident at UC Davis. In this video, the police arrest a handful of the protesters, after which the rest of the protesters form a circle around the officers and inform them that they won't "let" the cops leave until their friends are set free.
The group greatly outnumbered the police, they surrounded the police, and they told the police (in unison) they were not permitted to leave. Repeatedly. Is it an exaggeration to say that the protesters were taking the cops hostage? I'm not sure. But it is a great deal more than an exaggeration to call them "peaceful" protesters, is it not?
This is not to say that the police were correct in their choice of action. It is, however, to say that these were not peaceful protesters, they were protesters who were making threats, protesters who were declaring the intent to take the police hostage, protesters who were flat-out breaking the law. It is accurate to call the protesters unarmed. It is accurate to say that they had not yet committed any overt acts of violence. It is not accurate to say that they were peaceful.
Nick Christie was pepper sprayed ten times over the course of a two day detention in Lee County, Florida for disorderly conduct. The last two times he was sprayed, he was in a cell, strapped naked to a restraint chair, with a spit mask over his face. He was covered in pepper spray, was still covered in the stuff days later when he was autopsied. All of this occurred in March 2009.
The man had several serious health conditions, information that was available to jail employees, but which jail employees neglected to read. He was denied all of his medications, despite his repeated requests and despite the fact that all of his medications were written down and carried in his pocket at the time of his arrest.
That he had a mental illness was well-documented yet at no time was a psychiatrist consulted nor psych meds administered, even after his wife contacted the county sheriff's office with information about his condition and treatment.
The final jolt of pepper spray sent him into shock which, according to the coroner, caused him to go into cardiac arrest and later die. The death was ruled a homicide. The Lee County Sheriff's office was later cleared of any wrongdoing, and if criminal action was taken against the jailers who administered the spray, I cannot find reports covering it.
That's because the story received little to no national news coverage.
No word yet on how many privileged college students have staged protests against Christie's treatment.