Media Distort UC Davis Pepper Spray Incident?
The saddest thing about the UC Davis pepper spray incident is that the press is not reporting the incident in its entirety, nor is the press considering what other things may have occurred.
First, there’s the question of why the police were there. Presumably, they had been dispatched by some campus authority to disperse the demonstrators. This is evidently why they showed up in numbers and wearing what police call “riot gear.”
Second, nowhere in the accounts is there a description of what the police did to disperse the crowd before the pepper spray incident. Surely, they didn’t simply walk up and initiate the pepper spray action without first asking the protesters to disband and peacefully leave the area. But this is not recorded in the press accounts. It would be enlightening and perhaps even game changing if we knew exactly what happened in the minutes and hours before the pepper spray incident. But we don’t, thanks to incomplete, if not irresponsible reporting.
So the police were stuck. Do they walk away, or do they physically try to arrest and remove the protesters. The decision apparently fell to the latter. However, aware of the risks involved in physically wrestling with the protesters, the police decided to first use a police tool designed to make non-compliant persons more manageable by putting them in a temporary state of discomfort: pepper spray.