watch it: cop pepper-sprays seated, nonviolent Occupy protesters

It’s a special Saturday Web Video of the Day, because everyone needs to see this, and it can’t wait till Monday.

As the video shows, yesterday at the campus of UC Davis, Lt. John Pike of the UC Davis police department calmly and casually pepper-sprayed a group of quiet, seated, nonviolent Occupy protesters.

There is no possible justification for this. No matter what words may have been exchanged between cops and protesters prior to this. No matter if the protesters had been warned they were about to be pepper-sprayed. The protesters presented no danger to themselves or to others. The police were not in danger. There is no excuse for this excessive brutality. It is clearly and unequivocally illegal. Even if it were not clearly illegal, it is clearly immoral.

Here’s a still photo of the moment, by Wayne Tilcock of the UC Davis Enterprise:

Lt John Pike pepper-sprays protesters

This is extraordinary enough, in that it represents a true and obvious demonstration of the imbalance of power and the corruption of the powerful that Occupy is protesting. It represents a victory, in one sense, in that it reveals the terror of the powerful: this is far from the first abuse of power in response to the Occupy movement, and every single moment like this is about the powerful overreacting because they are scared. And they are scared because Occupy is a genuine threat.

But there’s more. As this video continues, you see that no one in the crowd reacts violently in response to the pepper-spraying… and when that does not happen, then all the cops get really scared. They know they’ve done wrong. They may have wanted to provoke a violent reaction in order to “prove” that Occupy is just a bunch of disaffected anarchists, or something. But that didn’t work. The cops retreat. And all that was needed to make that happen was some chanting and some shaming.

The only thing missing here to have made this a total victory for Occupy is a cop removing his badge and joining the protesters.

Still, this is amazing.

And it’s all the more amazing because we would never have seen this without YouTube, without cheap cameras in the hands of lots and lots of regular citizens. It’s video like this that effectively counters the mainstream media, which has mostly so far — it seems — been on the side of the 1 percent, as it would be because it’s part of the 1 percent.

A commenter at BoingBoing, where I found this video, posted this:

“I want to be very clear in calling upon the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters. The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. And the United States will stand up for them everywhere.” —Barack Obama

Will Obama stand up for these rights at UC Davis, and in New York City, and in Seattle?

I am reminded of what Gandhi said about speaking truth to power: First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. We’re in the they-fight-you phase now, it seems. I suspect we’ll be here for a long time.

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