There were these college students who were objecting to huge hikes in tuition. It’s one of those “clear messages” people have been demanding of protesters in the Occupy movement. You can gather in groups peacefully to grumble about stuff, supposedly. It’s in the Constitution. The students put up some tents, and the college didn’t want that so they sent police in to break it up. The students were told to take down the tents, and they did, but apparently they weren’t dispersing fast enough, or some of them were upset about that Constitutional thing. They sat down in a circle around some cops. They didn’t have weapons or armor, and the police did. Lt. John Pike, ex-marine, decorated campus cop, got on his helmet-radio:
“They’re sitting down at us. It looks ugly. Please advise, over?”
He received some sort of tactical information, which must have reassured him, because he walked to the perimeter of the circle of sitters, and stepped over them to exit. Nobody tried to grab his legs or anything. They were sitting. So, in response to the terrible crime of being “sat at”, Lt. Pike walked up and down the line of sitters, pepper-spraying them. That’ll teach those dirty Constitution-lovers.
No, it isn’t as bad as if he had shot them or beat them with a baton, but Pike’s action is not defensible as any sort of measured response, because there was no threat. However, the news photos and viral videos of what occurred have inspired the best kind of internet meme. Pepper Spraying Cop (http://peppersprayingcop.tumblr.com/) is now an icon of art. People are presenting his appearances throughout news history, and in different genres of painting and photography. That’s my favorite way to deal with monsters. You have to laugh at them.