Humboldt’s history of pepper spray recalled
Donna Tam's article in today's Times-Standard reminds readers that activists in Humboldt County were occupying before the Occupy movement, and police unjustifiably used pepper spray on them despite their passive, peaceful protests.
In 1997, forest activists occupied the offices of Pacific Lumber (RIP) and Congressman Frank Riggs to protest Maxxam Corporation’s appalling laws-be-damned logging of ancient redwoods.
Humboldt County Sheriffs gleefully assumed the role of Maxxam’s personal police agency and invented a new kind of torture to punish the protesters — by dipping Q-tips in Dixie cups of pepper spray and swabbing the burning stuff directly into the eyes of non-violent activists.
But even here in Humboldt County, where abuse of power by police against activists who pose no threat to them or anyone else is part of contemporary history, the images coming out of UC Davis, Oakland and elsewhere are shocking to behold.
And that is why such tactics by police will fail. The highest ideals of what it means to be a United States American are at the heart of the Occupy movement, because that is what is under attack by corporations, banks, the Supreme Court and the politicians who serve the 1%. Police repression against people peacefully assembled is offensive at the deepest of levels and will not succeed in keeping down those whose freedoms and opportunities are swirling down the golden toilet of the super rich.