UC Davis' Pepper Spraying Cop Was Just Doing His Job (VIDEO)

pepper spraying copMost people watching the video of Lt. John Pike, better known to the web this week as the "pepper spraying cop" at UC Davis, put themselves in the shoes of the peaceful protesters and wondered: what would that be like? I didn't have to wonder. Twice in my teens I was subjected to pepper spray, and twice my lungs protested, throwing me into full-blown asthma attacks. I'm pretty much the unlikeliest candidate to throw my support behind Pike, and yet, here I am.

I feel sympathy for the California campus cop. He's become the new Internet meme, his name and face plastered across Tumblr, Facebook, and the like. And yet, what did he do?


In the simplest of terms, he did his job as a member of the UC Davis Police, a position that lacks self-determination. UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, not Pike, ordered the force out on the sidewalks to quell the (peaceful) protest. She's been forced to publicly apologize for what happened, and people are still calling for her head on a platter. And Police Chief Annette Spicuzza has been placed on administrative leave.

Too bad their faces haven't been plastered all over the Internet. Too bad the photos of them aren't as fun to play with in meme form. That would certainly make more sense than making Pike the main mockery of the interwebs. He's become a scapegoat not because of what he's done, but because of how easy his photo is to manipulate.

Because what happened out there on that campus was an abomination. Pepper spray is widely regarded as a resource for police to subdue people to achieve a more peaceful arrest. Video shows these students were already peaceful. They were down on the ground, huddled together, not on their feet throwing punches. Pepper spray was not necessary.

And yet, some experts from law enforcement channels have been calling use of the pain-producing spray pretty standard by police officers. To me that points to a problem in law enforcement as a whole ... once again something that takes the focus of pepper-spraying cop Pike and puts the onus elsewhere. 

Why is it acceptable? Why would, as one Baltimore cop told MSNBC, a shot of an agent that could cause someone to go into a full blown asthma attack be preferable to being lifted off of the ground and carted away from the site of a protest. I can tell you I don't like to be touched by other people -- least of all a cop who I feel is denying me my First Amendment right to freedom of assembly -- but I recover from that indignity a whole lot faster than my lungs would from a dose of something intended to take me to my knees.

I'm angry on behalf of the protesters at UC Davis, and I truly sympathize with them. But I reserve a piece of my sympathy for John Pike too. He did something wrong, it's true, but so did a lot of other people ... and he's got to bear the brunt of the attacks.

Have you watched the video? Check it out below and tell us who you think is most at fault:


Image via YouTube

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