TSA agent pepper sprays other screeners

At JFK Airport, a TSA screener noticed an object on the floor. He thought it was a laser pointer and he tried it out. Turns out though that the item was a pepper spray device. Hilarity ensues.

Here is the official TSA announcement of the incident:

Yesterday morning, out of an abundance of caution, six TSA officers at JFK Airport were transported to a local hospital after being exposed to pepper spray. Officers were examining an abandoned item to determine its contents and to move it out of harm’s way when it accidentally discharged. Travelers and other airport employees were not exposed to the spray.

Pepper spray is A-OK

So if pepper spray is OK to use on peaceful protestors, why not fellow Wal-Mart shoppers?

This is so sad. But the constant barrage of advertisements calling for more shopping and deals that cannot be matched, coupled with the recession, is certainly an inducement for such behavior.

Meanwhile, an off-duty police officer pepper sprayed Wal-Mart shoppers in North Carolina.

God, I love the commercial nature of America. Merry Christmas.

Political quote of the day

The time has come to take strong action to recommit to the ideal of peaceful protest.

Mark G. Yudof, president of the University of California system, promising a UC-wide policy on ensuring proportional responses to peaceful protests. This follows the pepper-spraying of students sitting with locked arms at UC-Davis on Friday.

Meanwhile, two of the officers who pepper-sprayed protestors are now on administrative leave.

Police abuse at UC-Davis (updated x2)

What would you say about a police officer calmly walking down a line of seated, non-violent protestors pepper spraying each?  None of the protestors are a threat to the officer in any way.

And here is another view (click for a bigger version):

UC Davis pepper sprayWell this happened yesterday afternoon at UC-Davis. This is an example of the police acting as judge, jury and executioner. This is a form of unnecessary on-site extrajudicial punishment.  Police brutality pure and simple. All in the person of UC Davis Police Lt. John Pike ((530-752-3989 japikeiii@ucdavis.edu).

Here is a video of the outrage. It runs 8 minutes, but it is worth watching for the reaction of the crowd.

(via Boing Boing)

Update: The police now claim that they were afraid for their lives. Look at the pictures, and watch the video, and tell me that there was any reasonable fear on the part of the police for their own safety, at least prior to the chemical spraying. Does John Pike look scared as the sprays the protestors?

And here is a variety of contact info you may be interested in using to offer your views:

Update 2: The New York Times reports on reactions from Katehi on Saturday:

“The use of pepper spray as shown on the video is chilling to us all and raises many questions about how best to handle situations like this,” Ms. Katehi wrote. Her statement said that she was forming a task force and asking university officials to review existing policies about encampments like the one that was erected on the campus this week.

“While the university is trying to ensure the safety and health of all members of our community, we must ensure our strategies to gain compliance are fair and reasonable and do not lead to mistreatment,” Ms. Katehi wrote.

Asked about the demands by some faculty members for her resignation, Ms. Katehi said at a news conference on Saturday afternoon that she did not deem it appropriate to resign “at this point.”

At what “point” does she acknowledge that the buck stops on her desk and it is time to go. The casual, methodical, and heartless use of pepper spray by her police on non-threatening protestors is a disgrace.

Here is an open letter to Katehi from a board member of the Davis Faculty Association. Excerpt:

On Wednesday November 16, you issued a letter by email to the campus community. In this letter, you discussed a hate crime which occurred at UC Davis on Sunday November 13. In this letter, you express concern about the safety of our students. You write, “it is particularly disturbing that such an act of intolerance should occur at a time when the campus community is working to create a safe and inviting space for all our students.” You write, “while these are turbulent economic times, as a campus community, we must all be committed to a safe, welcoming environment that advances our efforts to diversity and excellence at UC Davis.”

I will leave it to my colleagues and every reader of this letter to decide what poses a greater threat to “a safe and inviting space for all our students” or “a safe, welcoming environment” at UC Davis: 1) Setting up tents on the quad in solidarity with faculty and students brutalized by police at UC Berkeley? or 2) Sending in riot police to disperse students with batons, pepper-spray, and tear-gas guns, while those students sit peacefully on the ground with their arms linked? Is this what you have in mind when you refer to creating “a safe and inviting space?” Is this what you have in mind when you express commitment to “a safe, welcoming environment?”

Another hero cop

Watch as this brave police officer, standing in front of teachers and screaming middle school students, repeatedly cruelly pepper sprays a baby squirrel. One of the Mesquite, Texas men in blue. Bravo.