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Pepper Spraying Cop Lt. John Pike

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Few days ago, students in solidarity with the worldwide Occupy movement peacefully protested at University California Davis. What happened became news around the world. It showed the nature of a big part of the corporate University systen through the naked violence that was employed that very day on campus. It showed how far a University system can go to preserve it's corporate status quo. It showed how far this "educational" places are away from being educational. I had to look at the video several times to actually believe what I saw.

A few days later images with the cop that had pepper sprayed peaceful students in the face appeared on the internet and a new web site project dedicated to the cop went online.


Before browsing through the images have a look at the video above.
Here you can also get more context and sigh a petition against the head of UC Davis, who ordered the police in the first place.


Being an educator and working at a University my self I feel it is my and our responsibility to do whatever we can to preserve Universities as open, educational, dialogic, free and democratic spaces! It is up to all of us educators, researchers, students, administrators (!!) to make this our biggest priority in the future. If this will not be possible we will have to think more about alternatives. Without true educational spaces there is no future.

Memefest works for ten years as a alternative university. We have always also collaborated with established, formal Universities around the world. We have been able to change and influence quite a few things for the better, and we were able to learn a lot from fantastic people within Universities. But we need to do much more.

I also believe that there is a lesson to learn. I am worried that I was surprised and shocked when I saw the video. I should have known better.

Going back to the images circulating and being collected and published on the "pepper spraying cop" tumblr blog: iam interested on how do you read them. A critique? A joke? Art? Image activism? Virus? Does this have an effect and if yes, what is the effect of this...??


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11 years, 6 months ago

The Tumblr and associated images seem to help emphasise the pure absurdity of the cop's heavy handed treatment that was without justification. While humour is often used to 'disarm' I think in this case, it only strengthens the cause, and encourages participation by other image makers. It would be nice to see the original video front and center on the Tumblr as these 'mash-up' images without context have hardly any impact.

And that is always seems to be a problem with mass image blogging... context.

11 years, 6 months ago

or could we call that a political "meme" ?

11 years, 6 months ago

Yes, I think so. However without context that is all it becomes, rather than being linked with the occupation (which is why it came to being in the first place).

8 years, 9 months ago

I saw the video/s and researched more in-depth about this incident around when it happened or very close soon after. I was searching for police brutality information and this video incident came up. But I did not find or know about the “Pepper Spraying Cop images” until now!

My thoughts of the Pepper Spraying Cop images are:
Collaborative grouping
Creative justice of shame and awareness
Satire images but also sadistic images
Power of the Internet community both responsible and irresponsible qualities

Confusing differences between the professional and the amateur image-makers because of the copy and paste method of the cop. Re-creating the cop to suit the theme like the Pokémon image can be seen as the professional image-maker? And copy and pasting the cop into the fishing boat jaws image can be seen as the amateur image-maker? The context potentially overrides the importance of image quality, so professional and amateur image-makers become equal. Perhaps the high quality images do better justice and the low quality images do not give much justice, or equal justice? Question of the ethics of public justice. In this circumstance participation of image making is of greater value than perfection or commercial perfection of the final image.

Luke Robertson described context for this in an accurate way. The university protest unnecessary pepper spraying context is important for the Pepper Spraying Cop images to reap full impact.

But I think there is a big picture here, which is the police brutality context. Pepper Spraying Cop images are not just related to this one incident. The images can critique on more police brutality situations as well (indirectly), but an open mind and/or knowledgeable mind is required to understand why. The exact image of the cop does ground it to the university incident (directly) if you already know about it. But overall it is an image of a cop with pepper spray.

The potential problem is if people find the Pepper Spraying Cop images funny which is a sadistic quality due to the images purpose. (What are the images true purpose?) However because of the relatively intentional fake image appearances/qualities it is more satire material. The satire removes the sadistic? But it strongly depends on the individual’s perception of satire and sadistic images. However the blur between satire and sadistic is very close together for the Pepper Spraying Cop images.

To the very most extreme conclusion the method of Pepper Spraying Cop images created active thoughts of violence in every participant in an effort to create public justice. Using violence to fight violence is a bad method as history can tell us all to often about this…


Hey, welcome to the official Memefest blog!

Since 2003 we have been using a blog platform as tactical media to reflect, critique, comment and inform around the broad field of communication. Now in 2010 with our newly conceived on-line platform we hope that through time this space will evolve in a collaborative blog media with a wider group of contributors to the global discourse around social responsibility of media and communication. Stuff that you can find here is either original or carefully and originally edited from other sources.  There is a good chance that you will find things that will be of good use for you too if you follow us more regularly.

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