letters from the police state

Dr. O. Ralph Raymond
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33315

The most disturbing thing about this episode as captured in video footage is its casual banality, the "banality of evil," the reduction of human beings essentially to insect or vermin status. It shocks the conscience.

Blanche Batey

What is horrifying is that police, politicians, and petty administrators have learned so little and apparently believe they have the right to rule us instead of serve us.

Baltimore, MD

Part of the problem is revealed by this statement: "The New York Police Department says pepper spray should be used chiefly for self-defense or to control suspects who are resisting arrest."

Ordinary Americans think "resisting arrest" involves actively fighting the arresting officer(s). In fact, passive, peaceful resistance is also considered "resisting arrest." Thus, refusing to move or going limp would make one subject to this type of "control."

This is widely quoted: "Charles J. Kelly, a former Baltimore Police Department lieutenant who wrote the department's use of force guidelines, said pepper spray is a 'compliance tool' that can be used on subjects who do not resist, and is preferable to simply lifting protesters.

'When you start picking up human bodies, you risk hurting them,' Kelly said. 'Bodies don't have handles on them.'

"After reviewing the video, Kelly said he observed at least two cases of 'active resistance' from protesters. In one instance, a woman pulls her arm back from an officer. In the second instance, a protester curls into a ball. Each of those actions could have warranted more force, including baton strikes and pressure-point techniques."

So we are to believe that police officers use pepper spray, which hurts and can kill people, to avoid the "risk [of] hurting them." THIS DEFINITION OF 'RESISTING ARREST' MUST CHANGE.

Greensboro, NC

I'm horrified that our police forces have become so militarized and seem almost gleeful as they use their new toys on the participants in a peaceful protest. But, with that said, even I had to laugh a little as FOX news downplayed the recent sprayings, based on the argument that pepper spray was basically vegetable juice. Yeah! It's like getting sprayed with V8 juice. Yeah. Right.

Bildad the Shuhite

I cannot believe there is not more outrage at these actions at the highest level of government. I thought it was ironic and sad that scenes from this incident were shown followed by scenes from Egypt and the Middle East and really, aside from the degree of police force not much different. If you had shown the videos with different captions it may have gone unnoticed that this was two different instances.

Having not grown up in the 60's-era I do not understand what "the man" finds so threatening about these protests. And if you can honestly say that you do not think that major corporations, banks act in many immoral, dishonest, and acted in a manner that deserves at least protest and condemnation than you have really not studied the history and growth of corporate America nor read anything beyond your 401K statement.

I own my own small business, employ people (aka job-creator), pay in inordinate amount of business taxes and vote mostly Republican but try to find the "best person" for the job.

What I feel the media and "older society" does not get about the Occupy Mvmnt is that it is not trying to have "communism". They are asking that the system not be rigged. That everyone gets a fair opportunity and that the biggest and best do not also get the most benefits.


As a "conservative person" who generally defers to the police in matters of public safety, I've been appalled at the actions of officials at all levels of government in regard to their dealings with the OWS movement over the past ten weeks. When you combine the reports of actions against generally non-violent protesters plus yesterday's articles in the NYT regarding the actions of the NYPD against accredited reporters and photographers, it becomes hard to differentiate between these actions and what has been going on in Egypt, Syria and other places. Surely this is not the vision of American freedom and democracy that we are trying to sell to the rest of the world?

Lakeville, Ct

Non lethal weapons?

As a question of will, rights and authority, 'might makes right', dominance and using whatever gives power to point of view will be used. Sad that this violence is still as interpersonal as bludgeoning someone with a rock lashed to a stick. I don't see much difference between this and piloting, from Virginia, a radio-controlled model plane that kills someone in the Middle east. It is just from a longer arms-length, less personal risk on the damage you're doing . . . until they get the weapon . . . or steal it. Imagine, piloting our own planes a weapons. Those thoughts have dominated our political and domestic lives since. Projectiles are intended to do damage.

Our '60's 'civil rights' experience of firehoses, rubber bullets, clubs and dogs showed us that differences of personal opinion, expressed contrary to politically motivated dominance, sometimes prevails, to an extent, at great risks and price. Any weapon can be lethal to someone with a congenital weakness or physical problem.

I think maybe the next protesters should line up the elderly and wheelchair-bound as their first line of defense. That'll make the headlines!

I always refer back to Eddie Rickenbacker who, after being a WW I flying ace, called aerial warfare 'scientific murder'.

Spraying someone in the face with pepper spray is a thinly veiled substitute.

Ann Arbor, Mich.

The militarization of police departments across this country is inexcusable. Apparently, the police believe that their first response should be that of paramilitary enforcers as opposed to their real roles, which is that of peace officers. The aggressive, violent, and criminal response of these law enforcement agencies is a national disgrace.

Frankly, the brutal police tactics taking place at Occupy sites should be front and center on every mainstream newspaper and media site in this country. How can we spread democracy abroad when we can’t even defend it at home?

The Tea Party contingent carried open weapons to various events, spit on public officials, and spouted some pretty threatening comments yet I don't remember even one arrest. On the other hand, OWS protesters have been beaten, pepper sprayed, shot with rubber bullets, and subjected to sound cannons for simply engaging in peaceful protests - I shudder to think of the outcome should an Occupy protester show up to an event openly packing a gun.

As for cities and universities seeking to "regain control of their streets, parks, and campuses", let us not forget who really pays to build and maintain these public structures and edifices. The streets, parks, and public campuses belong to The People and they have every right to occupy them if they so choose. If we're going to deny people access, then it's time for cities and universities to find another source of funding. Since they have all the cash, maybe it's time to require that corporate America finance infrastructure construction and upkeep.


These police obviously never have had pepper spray in their face. They have absolutely NO idea of the power of the weapon they are carrying. Living near bears, I carry it on hikes and several times have had just a breeze of it hit me. One time I thought I'd have to go to the hospital. That cop was spraying it like a can of air freshener, which is also not how you use it. He had no idea what kind of weapon he was using. I actually used it in Yellowstone this year on a charging bison. It did a 90 degree turn immediately. That's how powerful it is. Watching that video was appalling and sickening.

The amount of police reactivity and violence, in the midst of peaceful assembly, has been shocking. It demonstrates how much our rights have eroded while we've been 'making other plans'.

Reading PA

“we are in the age of pepper spray, not the age of real bullets.”

Tell that to the veteran who is in intensive care because of getting hit in the head with a rubber bullet in Oakland. This attempt to find something positive to say about attacking peaceful protestors in a putative democracy seems very labored.

Certainly we are in the age of bullets and bombs in our multiple wars overseas and the official rationale presented is that these unending wars are in defense of our "freedoms."

For all the billions we are spending in defense of "our freedoms" we don't seem to be getting much in return if we can't peacefully express our views as the First Amendment guarantees without getting pepper-sprayed.


My impulse, if stopped by a police officer for overspeeding, is to be as courteous and polite as possible. Do do otherwise would invite not just a higher priced ticket, but also the threat of a humiliating exercise of power (get out of the car, etc). Police have to be taught that their egos are not the determining choice in exercise of power. In other words "i wield the baton (or pepper spray), so i deserve respect and submission to my wishes" is not the message. It was clearly on display at UC Davis, an institution of higher learning, but clearly the police are not part of that culture. The students had an expectation of proportionate action, not life threatening abuse of power.

Jim T.

The video that I've watched showed protesters linking arms and blocking a road. If one assumes these protesters were asked to disperse and refused, the next step would be for the police to forcibly remove. This would risk injury to both the protester and the police officer. Pepper spray is a useful tool in that is will force the protesters to disperse without risking physical harm to themselves or the officers.

Steve Bolger
New York, NY

Consent of the governed to be sprayed like insects by psychotic cops?

Yeah, you sure are doing well after 35 years of open season asset-stripping.

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