How dangerous is pepper spray? If you've read about the police officer who pepper sprayed non-violent protesters at the UC Davis campus then you know how relevant this question is. If you know nothing about this story, read my post, UC Davis Police Officer Lt. John Pike pepper sprayes peaceful protesting students at close range. Call him!
Photograph: Wayne Tilcock/AP
Thanks to Martin Robbins article post on The Guardian, we can all be a little more informed as to the dangers of pepper spray. Robbins provides us with information straight from The Department of Justice (pdf format).
The main ingredient in pepper spray is Capsaicin. According to Deborah Blum from The Scientific American, "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."
Pepper spray can cause temporary blindness, frustrated breathing, and in some cases it is fatal.
At this point and time we don't know very much about Lt. John Pike. I'm curious as to how he feels now that he is the center of so much attention. Pike sprayed those students with the straightest of faces. I can only hope that he feels true remorse and not because he is now famous.
Pepper spray has been used ever so frequently since the beginning of the Occupy Wall Street protests.
It's been considered more benign than being beaten with clubs but I assume those who have been victims of pepper spraying, can attest to its harms and violation. We've seen via YouTube and Newspaper that police forces are using pepper spray far too liberally. I have little faith that police officers are simply attempting to do their job. I do not believe that they are striving to keep the peace. I think they are angry. Why? Can we ever really know?
Each individual has their own political world view. Perhaps some of these officers oppose the politics of the protesters, perhaps they feel so inconvenienced by the volume and presence of the protesers that they feel it is appopriate to unleash. Perhaps they are drunken with power.
We need to be exposed to some sort of public panel discussion. We our police force to stop hiding after they have done so much damage. They seem to be so brave with their weapons but cowardly without them. Face us! Explain your actions.
Perhaps I'm too cynical; but if anything changes behind the scenes, be it increase saftey trainings, or private conferences -- my guess is that the motivation will be to remove the police department from the radar. In other words, I don't know if anyone truly cares. Enough with the public apologies, just STOP.
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