A couple of points on the UC-Davis pepper spray incident, which has gone viral; if you haven’t already, make sure to watch the whole video below, not just the part at the beginning where the cop sprays the kids:
First, this is a prime example of political strength, stamina, and unity. The students show great courage taking a point-blank blast of sustained chemical weapon right to their faces, heads and bodies (and yes, pepper spray and mace are chemical weapons, even if not usually lethal ones). The also show continued courage in uniting together to shame the police through chanting in unison “Shame On you!” and “You Can Go!” and then confronting them and using the united power of their presence and determination to slowly press the cops backwards until they had walked them out of the area. Their courage also shows in their discipline in keeping it peaceful, but yet confident and assertive, throughout the confrontation. As Joan Walsh points out, the students won this confrontation, and they didn’t do it by appeal to the center or coming to as right-wing a compromise as possible. They did it by not only standing their ground, but by shaming and compelling the forces of elitism out.
Second, the attitude displayed by the man -- I won’t honor him by calling him a policeman -- who sprays the students is disgraceful, dishonorable, and beneath any officer of the law. The students are protesting, obviously, and thus causing some inconvenience as they occupy a public place, as is their right under the freedom of assembly. They are simply sitting there peacefully, harming no one and damaging no property. And this rather portly mustachioed man, in police helmet and armed with an array of weaponry, first displays his large-size can of pepper spray to the crowd (compensating for?), and then proceeds to indiscriminately use his chemical weapon on people who are harming no one. He sprays them directly in the face from a few feet away. His attitude is arrogant and authoritarian, and his behavior brutal and cruel, all the marks of a cowardly bully. If he had any real honor he would quit his job as a policeman and go into a job where he would do no real harm to anyone, while he pursues therapy in anger management. I feel sorry for him, he is pathetic.