I usually write about how right wing news agencies are misleading, because they usually are. But even more important than right vs left (or middle-of-the-road now referred to as “left”), is: Never trust snippets. Even my favorite news sources, usually more truthful than the alternatives, can be misleading.
The videos which show events leading up to the UC Davis pepper-spray incident reveal one of the clearest cases of how information can be misleading when taken out of context. You can still support the protesters, still think the police shouldn’t have made the arrests and still be against the use of pepper spray, but at least watch the longer version of the UC Davis incident. It may be hard to imagine, after watching police use pepper spray on people sitting motionless on the ground, that any new information could mitigate one’s feelings about the use of force in that incident. But the more complete version of events indicates that the police were compelled to clear a path, that they only used pepper spray on those who were blocking their exit, and that they made several attempts to resolve the situation peacefully.
If Chancellor Katehi’s words are true, that her instructions where “no arrests and no police force”, then the police are at fault for escalating a situation that they could have left alone. But even if the situation was escalated by police error, snippets of Officer Pike calmly spraying seated protesters are misleading.
More information may yet come out. The video doesn’t show how the arrests were made, and there are reports of police spraying pepper-spray down student’s throats. But for now, it appears that the police used pepper-spray as a last resort to clear an exit path, not as a handy tool to break up protests. Even if new information paints the police in a negative light, the fact that the police were surrounded by students who clearly stated that they would not let them leave is important information that has been left out by many news sources.
We can spend months arguing about the police escalation of the situation or about the options that the police may have had available to them, but the snippets indicate a cold-hearted and uncalled-for use of pepper-spray which the longer videos contradict.
Never trust snippets.