A video posted on YouTube on November 18th – parts of which have been aired on various media outlets – shows apparently peaceful, seated individuals taking part in what has been reported to be a protest on the campus of UC Davis (University of California.) In the video, an individual identified as a lieutenant in the UC Davis campus police, appears to spray copious amounts of pepper spray on the people seated.
The video has gone viral. Outrage has been expressed in many quarters. There have been calls for the resignation of the Chancellor of UC Davis. Certainly, if we can believe our eyes, this sickening display and callous disregard for human beings demonstrating peacefully brings up a host of civil rights and legal questions, both of the criminal and civil variety.
To gain greater insight into the situation, we welcome back CYInterview regular Gloria Allred to give us some legal insight into what is shown on the video, in addition to what has been reported and the ramifications. CYInterview managing editor Chris Yandek joined us for this important discussion.
We recommend that you listen to this entire CYInterview to gain a more detailed understanding of the event which occurred at UC Davis. You can, of course, read the overview below:
Listen to the entire Gloria Allred CYInterview:
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Attorney Allred first gives us her thoughts on the matter:
“It’s just completely outrageous. A group of students who appear to be peaceful and seated and not posing any threat to anyone would be pepper sprayed by campus police. This is you know just not acceptable under any measure. There had to be other alternatives for dealing with them. There was no clashing or conflict present and you know I don’t see why that alternative had to be used.”
Focusing on the officer who appears to be pepper spraying the peaceful protestors, Ms. Allred believes it is possible there could be criminal charges brought against the officer, as well as being named in lawsuits.
“Well, there is potential to be investigated whether this is gonna, whether this would amount to a criminal battery, a violation of civil rights or not. I’m sure it is currently being investigated. Even the state legislature’s intending to have hearings as well…Pepper spray is harmful. It’s damaging. It’s painful and it’s just, there’s just no justification whatsoever for it. Yes. It has both potential criminal and civil possible consequences…It will not surprise me if there are civil cases and it won’t surprise me if there is a possible criminal case as well.”
I asked Attorney Allred if she would be interested in getting involved in this matter by representing any of the affected protesters. Gloria stated that she is always open to considering new cases:
“It depends. I mean, I would have to be asked by someone who was pepper sprayed to represent them and then I’d have to see what the facts were and then I would have to make a decision, but you know, my guess is that a lot of these alleged victims have definitely already lawyered up…I’m always open to that possibility.”
Finally, in focusing on protests in a broader context, be it Occupy Wall Street or other similar protests across the nation, Ms. Allred makes a compelling point, about some of the criticism that has been made regarding the physical appearance of some of the protestors, as well as the messages they are attempting to convey:
“It’s about trying to find solutions. They’re saying to the politicians, you gotta find solutions to this because we’re hurting. It’s as simple as that. So I think to criticize them and say well, they’re not washed, you know what, I know a lot of people who are not washed. There’s a very, very poor people who sometimes cannot afford you know, even a place of clean water, they’re sleeping in tents. To criticize them or you know, maybe they don’t have money to go get a haircut, maybe they don’t have money for a barber or go to a salon.
A lot of things that we take for granted that a lot of people who don’t have money, they don’t enjoy those same kinds of things. So I think what we should do is have a little more respect for the fact that they are still human beings. They’re trying to make a political point and I think we should be proud of them as they’re standing up to the system and saying there’s something wrong and there needs to be change. Because I think there does need to be change.”
You can reach me with your questions and comments at Jay@CYinterview.com