Tuesday, November 22, 2011

More discussion on the UC Davis pepper spraying incident.

Me and the proprieter of Random Acts of Patriotism have been going back and fourth over whether the police were justified in using pepper spray on the protesters.  I think it's a good discussion to have if for no other reason than people should be keeping up with what the police are doing, even to those we may not like.

Most of what I've said about the incident is in comments here at the original, here and here.  Please have read if you care too.

A few of things I've decided as a result of this conversation:

1.  I think we need to have a serious look at the public ownership of property in the country and what it means.  If 'public' property is in fact owned solely by a municipality, state, or federal government then it's not public, but private, and all private property laws apply (GTFO when the owner/s say so).  If it is on the other hand a communal property held in trust by government for everyone then we all get to use it, and no one group gets to use it exclusively without permission (like a permit).

2.  If a trespass is taking place, what amount of force is justified in removing trespassers?  In Alabama, my understanding of the law is that I may use 'all necessary force to remove a trespasser.'  Is pepper spray worse than physically dragging someone away, or if they resist beating them into compliance before dragging them away?  I say 'all due force' is correct and that pepper spray is no worse than being dragged or beaten and dragged (I've been sprayed, though indirectly).   

3.  Finally, I now even more firmly believe that 'qualified immunity' is a tool of tyrants and should go to the dust bin of history.  Further, I think civil rights violations should be criminalized and that every single use of physical force by an officer of the law should go before a grand jury.  Officers of the law should be held to a higher standard, in fact I feel that they must be.


Borepatch said...

I think that a lot of people think it's reasonable to haul them off to jail if they're told to disperse. If they resist, then that's a plausible rationale for the Police to escalate the violence - because the protesters had escalated it.

But if they're sitting peacefully (albeit illegally), then pepper spray seems extreme.

It certainly seems extreme when it appears that it caused a miscarriage in a pregnant woman. Actions have consequences, that the State has a responsibility to be more sober in its determination to use force.

Even if the young punks are not. Perhaps *especially* if the young punks aren't.

ASM826 said...

I have an appreciation for the discussion, not because either of us convinced the other to change their point of view, but because we managed to stay on topic and talk about it like adults.

RobertM said...

As do I. Thank you for your thoughts on the matter.