I don't know where this photo came from. This image by Louise Macabitas is similar to those that Xeni Jardin of BoingBoing shows from another angle. It is of Lt. John Pike walking along a line of University of California at Davis students and acting as if he was spraying Febreze on some smelly hippies. But it isn't Febreze, it's pepper spray. The cop looks happy, almost bored as he does this to students who could be my kids, your brothers and sisters or you or me. It's an image that says it all: I have power and you don't. I have a job and you don't. I have rights and you don't.
When people talk about the photos that changed the world, there is this one at Kent State and this one in Saigon, both of which show what happens when you have power without restraint. Like those images, this one will not be forgotten.
UPDATE: The police department has issued a statement saying "The officer was surrounded and feared for his safety."
UPDATE 2 Xeni at BoingBoing has a great interview with a student who was pepper-sprayed and a lot more photography.
UPDATE 3: UC Davis Chancellor says "The use of the pepper spray as shown on the video is chilling to us all and raises many questions about how best to handle situations like this."
Photographs can change people's minds and change the world. I think this one will. Here is a video of the event that should not be missed:
From Discovery News: What is Pepper Spray?
Here is a roundup of our recent coverage of the #occupy movement:
Beyond the connection to wealth inequality made above, pervasive joblessness is a byproduct of the systematic dismantling of the American manufacturing base under the ideological pretext of free market absolutism and neoliberal globalization, an economic system disconnected from place and person. Re-localizing, re-regionalizing our economies, focusing on domestic needs first and export needs second, whether in so-called developing or developed nations (both inadequate words) is key factor in making our communities more environmentally resilient, more climate resilient, and in supporting local economies and jobs.
There's not really room on TreeHugger to go into all the nuances of why these different visions of economic planning have failed to protect Mother Earth from her rapacious creation known as homo sapiens doing its darndest to commit matricide, but the quick version is this: There has been no major economic system to date that has properly valued the environment, incorporating the true and full costs of depleting natural resources into the price paid for those resources. There is no economic system with a good grasp of ecology, or one that has adequately internalized social and environmental damage.
Why does our economic system place a higher value on disposable and often unnecessary goods and services than on the things we really need to survive and be healthy, like clean air, clean water, and productive soil? Sure, there's some contradiction in protesters carrying iPhones while railing against the consumer system. But this is not just about making personal changes and sacrifices; it's about questioning our place on this planet.
By aggressively clamping down on this peaceful demonstration in a public space, doing so without due cause, and then failing to acknowledge a court's order to allow it to continue, Bloomberg has set a precedent that bodes ill for the future of civil liberties in New York City. We must recognize the importance of these common spaces, and the role they play in enabling the workings of a healthy democracy -- and we must push back when leaders like Bloomberg attempt to diminish our access to them.
The current economic system against which the "occupation" protest across the industrialised world are directed, both creates and depends on unsustainable consumption, and has driven income and asset inequality within and between nations.
The photo says it all.