Comments

1
Right on. A flawless argument, and without Goldy's usual over-heated ranting, name calling, violent imagery, etc. More like this, Goldy.
2
Back in the 80's, during the SANE freeze movement, the entire purpose of protesting was to get arrested. They'd climb fences, trespass on military property, etc. specifically to force the cops to arrest them. Then they'd go limp and have to be carried off, refusing to "assist" in their arrest. It generated great media and it created a hassle for the cops who had to do all the drudgery of booking and processing these people who often were going to eventually walk with no charges.
3
Three options:

#1: If we simply arrest the 50 people for the intersection violation it's a sunk cost to process them; they carry criminal records doing permanent harm to them; but the city from a law and order perspective can now move to jail them if it continues. But do this, and you'll wildly, wildly inflame the protests to continue even more dramatically as you'll be seen to be heavily cracking down. If things get inflamed further by this, we probably proceed to option #2.

#2: If we simply continue to pepper spray away the day as we are, you end up buried (you know it's coming if the Occupiers have an ounce of intelligence) under pro bono legal challenges here, and we either see the banning short or long term of pepper spray. This pushes us to option #1, as how else will they then stop the protests interfering with infrastructure and transportation? If this happens to continue as the norm, it will simply inflame and increase the protests.

#3: The police under orders from the Mayor, Council, or court system wave the protestors by. This leads to--let's say--rush hour blockages on a routine basis of key intersections downtown or parks. This in turn either inflames the protests more--because they're seen to be working--or kills them off by turning public thought and sympathy against them. Let's say it's 50/50 on the odds which way. What politician is gonna take that gamble?

So you've got -- viably -- three options to deal with the occupy movement. Arrest them in crackdowns. Continue shoving and pushing back, including with chemical agents. Or just let them do their thing. Only one is going to--possibly--stop the protests, maybe, over time. The others all carry a strong risk of making them at the least continue, at the worst grow.

There is no way for the city government and SPD to possibly win this situation, at all.
4
If you’re seduced by some notion that mayhem and depravity on downtown city streets is going to the stop the rich from getting richer and the poor from getting poorer, then maybe getting pepper sprayed is a good idea.
5
@4: Real talk.
6
What if they stopped wearing riot gear and spraying protesters and just patrolled the protests like a regular beat (you know, policing). If the main reason for breaking up Occupy encampments is really "health and safety", a few cops working with protesters in the actual encampments could go a long way to preventing the supposed concerns (crime and fire hazards). Use all that pepper spray, riot shield, and police overtime money on some port-a-johns and sanitation isn't an issue either.
7
I agree: the better option, and far more deflating to any movement, is to step in calmly and make arrests. Bashing heads, using chemical weapons -- creating martyrs -- will only serve to energize the protesters, create a backlash and increase public awareness and sympathy for the demonstrations.

Speaking as an old activist myself: Martyrs are what made the civil rights movement and anti-war movements of the 50s and 60s so successful. The lack of martyrs is why the anti-nuclear and peace movements from the 70s to the 00s so unremarkable. Now that the police state is once again stepping up to the task, the new martyrs will make the economic inequity and anti-police state movements....
8
Whoever promises to fire Diaz has my vote for mayor
9
Things might start to mellow out once the protesters start bringing their own pepper spray....
10
I think the real problem is that there ARE no "convenient means of crowd dispersal." Crowd dispersal is a really hard problem, and fundamentally different from the dynamics of a one-on-one confrontation like the hypothetical traffic violation. All of the mob-dispersal tools that the cops have to work with are going to cause some degree of pain.

You say "civil disobedience can be awfully inconvenient to authorities." They say, "law enforcement can be awfully painful to lawbreakers." It's a two-sided coin, there.
11
Agreed, Goldy.
@10: ADS heat ray.
12
During WTO, the national guard stepped in, state resources were used and law enforcement was able to easily arrest and detain hundreds of protesters. With the city of Seattle, SPD budget is collapsing and the mayor honestly doesnt care, he's not going to re-direct any funds to the police, hes basically told them theyre on their own.
13
Goldy, can you explain Washington/Seattle law on the "lawful order to disperse?" Here is the federal law:

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/u…

14
Thanks Goldy. Well said.
@4 Mayhem and depravity? Really? Maybe you think exercising constitutional rights is mayhem and depravity but I think it's courageous and necessary. And, no, it won't change everything right now. That will require a titanic shift in a lot of people's minds. And that has to start somewhere!
15
@13

Headwater Forest Defense v. County of Hu…, 9th Circuit Court Decision.
16
Or they could also do their job while taking an oath to support and defend the constitution and the 1st amendment and all that and not pepper spray nor arrest anyone.
17
Goldy gets an honorable mention, but this is 1776 all over again. The cops are the domestic army, happy to smash heads on orders from above. Spare me the noble cop bullshit - there's only two in North America and they work in Mayberry Township.

It's not yet time, but there are good odds that some inspired citizens will turn the tables on our enemies in blue and give them some payback to go with their union overtime and benefits. This will sting worse than pepper spray because there's only one thing the Five-0 hates more than democracy, and that's a fair fight.
18
the stranger should do their job and report on bands.

stay out of politics, you have no fucking clue what your talking about
19
Your 'disobedient driver' analogy is a bad one, because pepper spraying someone in the face and then driving off is unlikely to get a person to provide their driver's license.

However, pepper spraying people who refuse to leave a crosswalk is somewhat likely to actually compel them to flee the area (e.g. leave the crosswalk). The reasonable likelihood of compliance with the initial order is exactly what justifies the physical assault (in fact, it's the only thing that can justify it). Ask first, if met with refusal then use moderate force that is somewhat likely to produce the immediate result that was initially requested. Of course it would be unethical to arrest people if doing so would cause such a dramatic administrative delay that it would allow an acutely unstable situation to deteriorate into a more dangerous and violent one...kind of like refusing to treat someone having a heart attack because you need twenty minutes to process their insurance card.

Arresting people or pepper spraying them can both be done foolishly or out of spite, and both can create unexpected problems. At other times, they can be effective if used under the right circumstances. Acts of civil disobedience can be an excuse for spiteful and reckless acts as well. Under the right conditions, civil disobedience can be productive and courageous.

The cops and protesters aren't so different. I find it ironic that one group of stressed middle class people is slugging it out with another group of stressed middle class people, and the federal reserve and investment banks are completely untouched.
20
@19: Read the SPD "less lethal force" guidelines I linked to. It is intended as an alternative to lethal force, not as a quick and easy crowd dispersal technique. It does not matter of it achieves its aim, it is an inappropriate use of force against nonviolent protesters.
21
@19: What about pepperspraying into a crowd after they had already been moved out of the street and onto the sidewalk? Because that is what all the videos of this event show. There was absolutely no excuse or reason for them to fire pepperspray at that crowd.

Goldy, excellent argument. Thank you.
22
I'm surprised no-one has noticed the problem with Goldy's analogy.

The driver who has voluntarily pulled over is no longer breaking the law.

The correct analogy would be to a driver who does not slow down when the police turns on the sirens; the cop then matches speed with the driver, rolls down the windows of both cars, and pepper sprays the driver at 85mph.

This should clarify two things:

1) Police do (and should) make a distinction between bringing lawbreakers to justice and stopping lawbreaking, with the priority more often on the latter than the former. The line between the two will not always be bright and clear, and there's more than one theory of policing on how to deal with each. But Goldy's argument relies completely on conflating the two.

2) In the corrected analogy, the police use of force is a greater threat to public safety than the initial lawbreaking behavior. This is arguably the case in a lot of "riot control" police methodology*, as well.

I'd really like to see some police force, somewhere, come up with some nonviolent riot control tactics. Dress uniforms instead of shields and black helmets, linked arms instead of bikes and barricades, video cameras instead of batons, etc. It would be pretty hard to sell to your average cop shop (let alone one with a macho hard-guy ethos) but it just might put an end to the violent anti-cop fringe element in the protests, for good.

 

* Police forces seem to have decided, at least for now, that tear gas grenades and rubber bullets do more harm than good. Pepper spray hasn't made the cut; they'll probably keep using it until it causes a well-publicized major injury or death.
23
@17

Thanks for the reminder that it's not only cops who can be afflicted with a stupidly counterproductive macho, hard-guy ethos.
24
In another time, in another place, they might have used firehoses (note: that link goes to YouTube).
25
Goldy, whenever I find myself disagreeing with what you say, I generally find that I nonetheless admire the force and/or form of your argument. This post is an excellent example of why, even though I happen to agree in this case.

Because you've framed the argument in terms that I have literally never considered. I think the reason for that is because I (we) have become so used to the idea that roughing people up is just part and parcel of what cops do in the process of "doing their job". And that is a seriously fucked up state of affairs.

Keep bangin' this drum...
26
Thank you Goldy. So well put that I've sent it to the SPD.

http://www.seattle.gov/police/contact_fo…
27
Once again, that's:
http://www.seattle.gov/police
/contact_form.htm
29
@ 20 & 21:

Like I said, pepper spraying can be appropriate at times, and at others it can be simply spiteful. My point was that the initial analogy (of macing someone in a car and then driving off) was a terrible comparison to the actual situation.

Every violent crowd was non-violent just a few minutes earlier. Listen, I'm not saying the police are saints or that there haven't been transgressions here. But the idea that pepper spraying a crowd could never be justified doesn't wash. Let's judge each case on its merits, and hope no one resorts to any lethal force out of necessity, possibility, or cruel folly.
30
You know what makes non-violent crowd violent ?
Tear gas, pepper spray, and violent cops.
I didn't give a crap about the WTO back when until I was walking home from downtown, up to the hill, after work and I got gassed and sprayed. Suddenly I was not only angry, I wanted to fight back. The same is happening now. The cops are fucking up and going about it all wrong. The saddest part is that it seems like that is all these meathead cops know how to do. And it sucks !!! Especially when you consider part of the protest is about keeping their unions and their pensions in tact and safe. The cops are the 99%.
31
RE: Robot slave: actually, your analogy of 'pulling over to the side of the road, in compliance with the officer's demands' fits nicely with, 'walking away from the intersection and standing well away from police, 8+ feet removed on the sidewalk.' Yet I was still peppersprayed. So is that like me slowing down to like 5 miles an hour, and still kinda/sorta breaking the law in some way? Again, the point is either arrest them or don't, but don't continue to spray folks peacefully assembled ON THE SIDEWALK, with 6-8' of clear space between them and the officer's second favorite weapon, THEIR BIKE.

RE: keey: so when people (in the words of spd) failed to disperse, SPD needed to do what was necessary to clear the area, right? After 5 minutes of pepperspraying, people were still assembled on the sidewalk, peacefully. Why weren't they arrested? Did SPD have a point to make or a mandate to keep?
32
What 8 said
33
@19 you said "The reasonable likelihood of compliance with the initial order is exactly what justifies the physical assault"
You are fucking insane. That gives an incredibly broad discretion to police in terms of physically assaulting someone. Let's say you're disturbing the peace. Maybe you've got your radio cranked way up. A cop orders you to shut off the radio and you refuse. By your logic he should just spray you with pepper spray or crack your head with a baton. After all, that would get you to comply, or at least drop the radio, breaking it.

Your argument would allow police virtually universal discretion to beat people for virtually anything.
34
An order to disperse is not lawful if used against the people engaging in their RIGHT to peacefully assemble.
35
@20

maybe i missed what you were linking to but that .pdf was not a guidelines document; it was just a report. and your argument is flawed based on what i read.

"It does not matter of it achieves its aim, it is an inappropriate use of force against nonviolent protesters."

actually, it does matter if it achieves its aim. here's one excerpt:

"Instead officers at a scene will continue to exercise their best judgment in using
reasonable force, and will not be expected to deploy less lethal options when
such deployment is neither appropriate nor likely to be effective."


so, in an officer's judgment, they may not have thought arresting every individual, one-by-one, would have been effective. and you, as a third party, cannot comment on what an officer thought was their best judgment in a situation.

@21

"What about pepperspraying into a crowd after they had already been moved out of the street and onto the sidewalk?"

they weren't asked to move out of the street and onto the sidewalk. they were told to disperse. they did not.

@33

"That gives an incredibly broad discretion to police in terms of physically assaulting someone."

yes, we, as a society, have given them broad discretion.

"A cop orders you to shut off the radio and you refuse. By your logic he should just spray you with pepper spray or crack your head with a baton. After all, that would get you to comply, or at least drop the radio, breaking it."

yes, those are options the police have. or they could use their hand against the person's hand holding the radio to cause physical pain to release it. if a cop tells you do something, you refuse, and they think the only way to make you comply is through physical pain, then they have the right to cause you pain.
36
@34

the people do not have the right to peacefully assemble whenever they want. from the aclu:

"The right of free expression is not an absolute right to express ourselves at any time, in any place, in any manner."

and

"While we may have the right to march in a parade or on a city street, we may not have the right to decide the exact time or route. The government has the authority to make reasonable restrictions on the time, place, and manner of certain speech activities if there is a compelling reason to do so"

and

"Generally speaking, the government can regulate the time, place, and manner of speech in a traditional public forum only to ensure that other peoples' rights to use the streets, sidewalks, and parks, are not disrupted."
37
@35, well then why not just shoot them? Kill them all and "disperse" the bodies with a bulldozer. Your argument seems to be that the ends justify the means, no matter what the cops think might be an appropriate means. In the other SLOG chain you've stated that people are legally required to comply with any order a cop gives. What you're saying is that police can make the law on the fly and enforce it brutally.

I don't agree when most protesters say "this is what a police state looks like" because we do not live in a real police state. A police state is where police create the law on the street and enforce it brutally. You are proposing a police state. Why don't you move to Syria and see how it feels to live under the rules you've suggested.
38
You are wrong and misrepresent the linked .pdf. Using your linked document, ‎"How do officers know how much force to use? Police are in a reactive mode when they use force. To ensure public safety and protect persons and property, officers in Seattle, as elsewhere, are trained to gain control of the situations they encounter as quickly, safely, and effectively as possible. This means using a level of force necessary and reasonable under the circumstances to accomplish their lawful purpose. It is recommended that officers meet force with superior force. This is because studies have shown that officers are at great risk of injury when they use force, and that there is a greater chance of both suspect and officer injury when officers fail to meet suspect resistance with a greater amount of force.
However, since no two situations are likely to be the same, there are no “cookie cutter” guidelines for officers to follow. Instead they are expected to use their training, experience, and judgment in applying force."
Additionally, there's an actual Seattle Police Manual that clearly states: "The purpose of less lethal weapons is to intervene in unlawful assemblies and or unlawful civil disturbance situations where verbal dispersal or movement orders have been ineffective."
http://www.cityofseattle.net/police/publ…
Every credible report from the incident states that police ordered the crowd to move from the intersection (...dispersal or movement order...) and they actively refused (...have been ineffective).
The police aren't there of their own free will, it's their job. The protesters, however, are refusing lawful orders from the police of their own free will - they are not victims.
39
protests, while not exactly accomplishing anything instantly apparent, are necessary for things to change.. shame on the people who suggest that a person should be pepper sprayed because they are inconveniencing others.. (is that our new cry? you're pissing me off, me, poor little snowflake.. SPRAY EM!!) I can't stand protesters getting in my way.. or people in general.. it really pisses me off.. but not so much as what i see going on with corporations basically getting all the rights and the people getting the shit on a stick.. if you've got the wool pulled far enough over your eyes while you're sipping your six dollar latte and driving your single occupant suv down the road, then perhaps.. just perhaps.. it's time for a reality check for YOU.good . because quite honestly, you're part of the problem with your greed and selfishness.. and that's exactly what is counted on.. apathy..
40
*apathy created through psychological warfare on the senses via programming to control a population.. if you want to cry conspiracy theory, just check out any good war time strategy play book.. it's common.. it's not unheard of.. and your government doesn't really care enough about you to care what you think about it.. IF you think about it
41
@3

4th Option: Call in the Horses. People *will* move aside when a big, deliberate beastie like a cop horse is moving through the crowd.
42
kind of hard not to 'assault' someone when they are lobbing firecrackers and water bottles at your head. SPD has shown remarkable restraint in dealing with these domestic terrorists. Unfortunately, the mayor is unwilling to protect our city from them. Hopefully the governor will send in the national guard soon.
43
I wrote a letter to the Governor this morning, urging her to mobilize the national guard and clean up the mess that the mayor clearly isn't willing to. Allowing a mob of militant thugs to roam around our city at large is absolutely unacceptable.
44
@22: RCW 46.61.020: "It is unlawful for any person while operating or in charge of any vehicle [...] to refuse upon demand of [any] police officer to produce [...] his or her vehicle driver's license[.]"
45
@ 33
What I'm trying to say with that particular line is that only a tactic that could produce the "desired behavior" *could* be justified. It doesn't mean that *any* tactic *is* justified.
46
This is bullshit. We are letting rapists go because the jails are over crowded. Society does not WANT to pay for the expense of jailing and then prosecuting these people. If you are given enough warning, which almost of these cases WERE, then pepper spray is a reasonable alternative to being "shot in the face:. The argument that if you are not going to shoot them then you shouldn't spray them is ridiculous. Is it pleasant? Of course not! Then OBEY THE LAW! I used to SELL pepper spray. I KNOW how unpleasent it is. But I would rather have the memory of that as a result of a stupid decision I made when I was a young man, than to have a crimimal record follow me the rest of my life. If you want to protest, fine. Get a permit. Obey the law. And when the authorities tell you it's over, go home.

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