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Victim

[ 27 ] July 26, 2013 |

The true victims of police violence against protestors are always the cops.

The former police officer who pepper-sprayed students during an Occupy protest at the University of California, Davis is appealing for worker’s compensation, claiming he suffered psychiatric injury from the 2011 confrontation.

John Pike has a settlement conference set for Aug. 13 in Sacramento, according to the state Department of Industrial Relations’ website.

Pike was fired in July 2012, eight months after a task force investigation found that his action was unwarranted.

Online videos of him and another officer casually dousing demonstrators with pepper spray went viral, sparking outrage at UC Davis leaders. The images became a rallying symbol for the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Hackers posted Pike’s information online. He received scores of threats that led an Alameda County Court judge to rule against releasing the names of other officers at the scene.

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  1. actor212 says:

    Ironically, part of those protests were over protecting American workers, like Pike.

  2. Shakezula says:

    Cali. is not going to agree to payout WC every time a worker makes himself into a national villain. The tab racked up by members of LAPD alone would sink the state in a week.

  3. mpowell says:

    I think it would be better if we could avoid the result where guys like Pike get loads of hatemail and threats. But the reason there is so much pressure to release names is that without the external pressure to discipline these guys you can be virtually assured that it wouldn’t happen. Which is terrible.

    • Wapiti says:

      If the powers that be were interested in reducing brutality, they’d have officers wear jerseys with large numbers like sports teams. The uniforms police wear (especially riot gear) seem tailored for anonymous bad behavior.

      • JL says:

        I’ve seen a few places where the riot helmets have numbers painted on them, which is nice. For one thing, it’s nice because it’s so visible that in the adrenaline of the moment you’re less likely to just completely forget to look for the badge number. I’ve ended up kicking myself for that a couple of times.

    • Warren Terra says:

      There also is supposed to be a special expectation of identifiability and accountability for those people we license to potentially use physical force against us. Doesn’t necessarily mean their name should be on display, but their badge number should, and there should be a robust process for following up complaints.

      One of the features of the police crackdown on Occupy protests noted in coverage in several cities was cops putting tape oer their badge numbers. I’m not aware that anyone was ever punished either for doing this or for permitting it. It really should be a serious offense, even if done by a cop whose anonymous behavior was impeccable.

    • EH says:

      Why should the police be insulated from social repercussions for their actions, have we completely divorced law enforcement from the communities they serve? Frankly, given the legalities and culture surrounding law enforcement, ridicule and opprobation is pretty much the only vote the citizenry gets where otherwise they are told simply to take it and like it.

  4. Cheap Wino says:

    He was so unfairly treated. Heck, he was just making sure those students were getting proper nutrition.

  5. JL says:

    That picture still gets to me, even though I’ve seen a lot of police brutality against protesters (a lot more than I had when this actually happened). Actually, I think it gets to me more because of that. It’s so easy to visualize being up close, being able to hear and see all the details and feel the atmosphere in a way that video and photos just rarely fully catch.

    I wonder if any of the students who got sprayed have PTSD or other psychiatric injuries as a result. Lord knows I know enough protesters who do. At least my financial aid paid for some therapy at my university’s counseling center.

    • ChrisTS says:

      Yeah, it gets me, too. He’s just so…nonchalant. I look like that when I spray (safe) herbicides on weeds, for chrissake.

      • JL says:

        There’s a weird East Coast/West Coast thing that I have observed. There are some notable exceptions, but in general it seems like West Coast cops who want to be brutal to protesters like to nonchalantly stand back and spray (or occasionally, toss out some tear gas or a pepper grenade), while East Coast cops run in with fists and batons and boots. I have no idea what causes that cultural difference, but the UC Davis case is a conspicuous example of the West Coast side of it.

        For a conspicuous example of the East Coast side of it, I can think of a few possibilities, but the first one that comes to mind is that video of NYPD cops breaking a plate-glass storefront window with an OWS medic’s bare head. Or maybe the videos of them beating and groping OWS’ Cecily McMillan and then keeping medical help away from her while she had a seizure for 15 minutes.

        • ChrisTS says:

          That’s weird. I’m only familiar with the EC brutal type.

        • Erik Loomis says:

          Certainly there’s been no shortage of nonchalant spraying against environmental protestors over the years in Oregon.

          • JL says:

            Yeah…I trained with some visiting medics from Portland, OR, and when they taught eyeflushes they said it was probably the most common thing they had to do other than giving out cough drops and water. They had a lot of good advice about pepper spray, much of which was drawn from their firsthand experience.

            I, on the other hand, have been a medic for two years, operating mostly in the East (and Chicago, which gets to be culturally the East for this purpose), and have not yet had to flush pepper spray out of someone’s eyes. I have, however, had to strap broken ribs and swollen lacerated wrists, evaluate concussions, hand out stuff for bruises, and patch people with blood gushing from their heads/faces.

          • JL says:

            There are certainly some exceptions. Oakland police, for instance, were willing to use pretty much anything they could dream up, until they started being seriously worried about a federal takeover, and suddenly became less willing to use anything.

            And on the other side, there was the infamous video near the start of OWS, of then-1st-precinct-commander Tony Balogna of the NYPD nonchalantly pepper-spraying young women inside a kettling net.

            It’s possible that the “West Coast” thing is actually a “Pacific Northwest” thing, even though the UC Davis incident would fit within it. My frame of reference for it is certainly mostly the Pacific Northwest, talking to medics based in places like Portland and Seattle.

          • JL says:

            Also, every example that I can think of since I started the medic thing of rubber bullets/beanbag rounds/similar being used in the US was in California (and in fact, I think they’re all in LA or Oakland). Though I have a medic friend who was shot in the face with one in Miami back in 2003. In Boston, they definitely don’t bring them out because they faced some significant public backlash after killing a student journalist with one during the 2004 World Series riot.

            At the RNC in Tampa last year they had all that weaponry, and pointed it at us sometimes, but never fired it. I got the distinct impression there that the city was expecting (and wanting) the cops to hurt people there and the cops just did not care. They were happy to wave the weaponry around but didn’t want to deal with actually arresting and hurting people.

            Other forms of weaponry…LRADs have shown up in a few places (I have seen them in person in Boston, Chicago, and Tampa) but rarely get used.

          • Batocchio says:

            Hogan beat me to it. Los Angeles has made some strides, but there has long been a contingent in the police that loves to beat the crap out of anyone. At MacArthur Park in 2007, they assaulted journalists and families. (I blogged about it at the time; some of the photos and footage are appalling.) I don’t see much validity to the East Coast/West Coast claim. (But hey, regional differences in police styles might be an interesting subject to research.)

        • Sara says:

          Two years prior to the pepper-spraying, I was part of a group of UC Davis protestors who had to run from rubber bullets shot by the CHP. That same day, at least one protestor was hospitalized when she “resisted arrest,” or fell down after being thrown against the hood of a police car and beaten with a baton. And police in Oakland and Berkeley have used batons and rubber bullets against protestors. Maybe the degree of use varies on the different coast, but the methods are all the same.

      • Warren Terra says:

        The best caption I’ve seen was “Don’t mind me, I’m just watering my hippies”.

  6. Mike G says:

    Pike can’t find a job?
    I’ll bet Blackwater is hiring. He’d fit right in with the fascist culture.

  7. News Nag says:

    I think his suit is part of a Stand Your Ground Pepper defense.

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