There’s new video out from the pepper-spraying incident at the UC Davis campus, and it literally presents a much bigger picture of the incident:
Some key points here:
— The officers informed the protesters that they were about to start pepper spraying, and the protesters were cool with that.
— The officers detained several protesters at the outset.
— The crowd didn’t like that, started demanding the officers release them, and surrounded the officers.
No, the protesters weren’t being aggressive. But they weren’t exactly passive, either — they were pulling the classic passive-aggressive move. They were doing all they could to piss off the officers without provoking them.
I still stand by my earlier argument: of all their options, they took the least worst one.
There are those who argued that the officers should have simply refused to carry out their orders, as they were not moral. I’ve never served in the military, but I’ve read a lot — and from my (flawed, I’m sure) understanding, “illegal orders” tend to fall into two categories.
The first is the classic example — orders that are flatly illegal on their face. The old “go and shoot those prisoners” orders. Those orders, you simply refuse to carry out and report them to your chain of command.
The second is a bit trickier — I forget the precise term, but they’re orders that are “situationally illegal.” Someone comes up to you and orders you to leave your post and report to another location. There’s nothing illegal about that order — providing that the person issuing it has the authority. However, if they’re outside your chain of command, lower in rank to the officer who gave the initial order, or in any other way not authorized to give you your orders, then it’s illegal. In that case, I’ve usually seen it recommended that the order be carried out, but also reported as soon as possible.
In this case, the orders given the officers at UC Davis were definitely legal on their face — “remove the protesters who are violating university policies.” And the issuing authority was legitimate — the chancellor of the school. At that point, the officers didn’t really have any reason to refuse the order.
One commenter — Jay, who I tend to refer to “Other Jay” to avoid confusion, nothing pejorative intended — pointed to an article at Daily Kos that referred to an incident at Occupy Albany about a month ago where the police refused their orders to disperse the mob. They touted it as a great moral victory, with the police recognizing the immoral nature of their instructions. Pity those fools didn’t actually read the article they heaped praise on:
With protesters acting peacefully, local and state police agreed that low level arrests could cause a riot, so they decided instead to defy Cuomo and Jennings.
“We don’t have those resources, and these people were not causing trouble,” a state official said. “The bottom line is the police know policing, not the governor and not the mayor.”
That’s right, they didn’t refuse the order because the protesters were such sweet, innocent darlings, but because the police feared that it might trigger a riot. It was their professional judgment that the protesters had great potential for violence, violence that the police did not have the resources to manage.
At UC Davis, the officers used the least violent means at their disposal to carry out their duties and their orders. Hell, I’d argue that they made a major concession to the left — they used nice, organic, natural pepper spray (made from real pepper plants!) instead of nasty chemicals like mace or tear gas. I even hear they were free-range peppers, harvested humanely and sustainably. The stuff is even biodegradable.
So, I’m not overly eager to continue a discussion that ran over 150 comments (it’s good for my ego, but it’s a pain in the ass to follow, let alone properly police), this new video