Saturday, September 22, 2012

Active Resistance

SF Gate reports that the Yolo County District Attorney's office has not found criminal conduct by the police officers who pepper sprayed non-violent UC Davis students, and at point blank range, in November, 2011 demonstrations over tuition increases and staggering student debt.

Here, again, is a video taken of the shocking incident on UC Davis campus that day, and which garnered international condemnation:


At issue in the report's conclusive reasoning appears to be what the D.A.'s office describes as "active" vs "passive" resistance, and based on the fact that students were "linking arms." 
In the videos, Lt. John Pike of the campus police is seen slowly and deliberately spraying the students, pausing to shake the can before continuing. At least one other officer, Alexander Lee, is also seen spraying.
By linking arms, the seated protesters engaged in "active" rather than "passive" resistance, according to the district attorney's report, which relied not only on the officers' accounts but on University of California-commissioned studies of the incident, on experts in the use of force, and on UC policy.
Officers may use pepper spray when they encounter active resistance, the report says.\
 The Sacramento Bee reports that officials stated, "[...] there is insufficient evidence to establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the use of force involved in the November 18, 2011, pepper spraying was unlawful and therefore warrants the filing of criminal charges [...]." 

Read more here:

Pike was later relieved of duty; his police chief, Annette Spicuzza, resigned under fire; and withering reports from a specially-convened task force led by former state Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso and independent consultant, Kroll, detailed a dysfunctional police department and "systematic and repeated failures" by university leaders.

Alexis Briggs, an attorney for the Davis Dozen (a.k.a. Banker's Dozen) a group facing charges for February and March bank demonstrations, and which includes students who were pepper sprayed in November, expressed disappointment:
"I guess the Reynoso report, the Kroll report and video is sufficient in some cases but not in others. I'm sorry to hear that," Briggs said. "There seems to be a willingness to rely on video evidence in some cases but not others. My thoughts go back to the day itself," she said, adding the events "cast doubt that Lt. Pike and others were acting lawfully."

The California Agee reported in April that the "11 students and one professor [in the Davis Dozen] face up to 11 years in prison on the charges of the obstruction of movement in a public place and conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor by Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig."

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