Pepper spray vs. physical force

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Charles J. Kelly, who used to work as a lieutenant for Baltimore Police Department, defended the actions of the police officers as-seen in the video, calling it to be "fairly standard police procedure". Kelly explained that the use of pepper spray is preferable to physical force in such situations – as-opposed to attempting to lift up protesters. "When you start picking up human bodies, you risk hurting them," explained Kelly. "Bodies don't have handles on them."

I would like to see evidence showing it is "standard police procedure" to pepper-spray unarmed, peaceful demonstrators. It isn't and it never has been. Further, the claim that pepper spray is preferable to lifting up the protesters makes no sense at all and should win an award for the most dubious, absurd statement of the year. As the video clearly shows, not only did the officer pepper-spray the demonstrators, he then followed this up by dragging them away on the pavement and arresting them. These students were in need of medical attention and were injured by the pepper-spray. The police literature shows that in the United States during the 1990s alone, "70 fatalities linked to pepper-spray use" were cited by the U.S. Department of Justice.[1] To the best of my knowledge, there have been zero deaths due to "picking up human bodies". Kelly's argument doesn't hold water, and the writer who put this report together didn't do their homework.

Viriditas (talk)10:03, 22 November 2011

Then start picking on the sources they cite - which are the origin of the information you feel is incorrect.

Oh, and you can comment from the cheap seats, or you could contribute. If you engaged in the latter, you might learn why the headline choice I made is reasonable.

Brian McNeil / talk10:27, 22 November 2011

It is entirely unreasonable to change the topic of a news story by manipulating the headline. The change effectively undermined and downplayed the story by changing the subject. The news story is about the pepper spraying of demonstrators by police and the consequences of the police action. Your headline removed that fact. Dis-informing people is not reasonable, but I admit, it is what the media does best.

Viriditas (talk)10:43, 22 November 2011

The title reflects the first sentence of the lede, so I dispute your characterisation of the change. The consequence of pepper-spraying non-violent protesters is that the police officers have been suspended.

That these police officers have been suspended is certainly news. Many of the other heavy-handed tactics relating to "Occupy" protests have seen no sanctions whatsoever against police, or authorities ordering such 'brutal' tactics.

Now, please demonstrate your superior news-production skills by contributing an article? There's an awful lot of news relating to the Occupy movement, and tactics similar to this pepper spraying incident. Alternately, you might want to back up your assertions relating to "standard police procedures" on the talk page of the article, then point the original author at them. Either action would be more productive and lead to longer-term improvements in Wikinews articles.

Brian McNeil / talk11:32, 22 November 2011

Well, if you had bothered to do the slightest bit of research on this subject before dis-informing the reader and altering the title so that nobody knows what the subject is about, you would have discovered that The San Jose Mercury News substantiated my assertions about standard police procedures[1] as have the majority of reliable sources on this subject:

There is near universal agreement on this: Pepper spray is a tool to preserve peace, not break up peaceful protests...A half-dozen law enforcement officials interviewed for this story agreed that the use of pepper spray at UC Davis did not appear to be appropriate or reasonable. All agreed that the incident would not likely have happened at their agencies. "Our policy is that we do not use pepper spray or Tasers or batons against passively resisting people," said Peter Rode, Santa Clara County assistant sheriff. "It's a public safety issue. If they are blocking an intersection, then of course you have to move them." San Jose police Sgt. Jason Dwyer said he has only used pepper spray once in his 13-year career -- to break up a fight between two women who were kicking in stiletto heels. "On some people -- sometimes intoxicated or angry -- it can tick them off even more," he said.

Is it too much to ask you to research a subject before writing about it? Your change of the title from "Police officers put on leave after pepper spraying protesters" to "California campus pepper spray police suspended" has no rational basis other than to confuse readers and to deliberately downplay the main subject of the story.

Viriditas (talk)20:50, 26 November 2011

I didn't write the article; I copyedited it, chose a title that was more appropriate on the basis of the submitted content, verified it tallied with the used sources, and published it.

If you think you can do better, please feel free to prove it by contributing rather than simply being a news "consumer".

Brian McNeil / talk22:38, 26 November 2011

You downplayed the primary subject (the pepper spray incident) by playing up the secondary story (suspension of the police). I'm sorry, but I don't trust you as a reporter.

Viriditas (talk)01:42, 27 November 2011

No. You don't know what is news. The new aspect of the story is that the police officers were suspended, not that someone had been pepper sprayed.

Take your faux moral outrage elsewhere, or contribute constructively in the form of news articles.

Brian McNeil / talk08:38, 28 November 2011

I'm afraid you don't know what you are talking about. The news aspect is only about the pepper spraying of students, and the preponderance of reliable sources since the day of the event proves that fact. I maintain that you changed the subject of the article to distract the reader from the topic. To date, nobody cares that the officers were suspended; that's become a historical footnote to the issue of police pepper spraying non-violent protestors. All of the sources bear this out. I'm sorry to say it, but you're wrong. Your change of the headline deliberately downplayed the actual story, and took the secondary, minor aspect of the story and raised to the level of news. In other words, you manipulated the news story and you altered the primary topic. If the suspension of police officers was the story, then the media would still be talking about it. Newsflash: nobody is talking about it and nobody cares because it never was the primary story. And yet, the media is still talking about the unjustified, unauthorized, out of protocol pepper spraying of non-violent protesters. Game over.

Viriditas (talk)09:42, 7 December 2011

News articles are different both from encyclopedia articles, and from blog entries. It seems pretty safe to say no one would write an encyclopedia entry about the police suspension, and apparently you would not have written a blog entry focusing on the suspension, either. However, a Wikinews article is written, using inverted pyramid style, about a news event. As our policy pages explain, a news event is specific, recent, and relevant. And yes, there is further elaboration of our criteria for recent, relevant, and (to some extent) specific. The news event that this article was written about, which was specific recent and relevant on November 21, 2011, was the suspension. Like many news events, it was part of a larger network of events, but that's the one that this particular article was written about, the story that was current that day — the story that was also the focus of the three sources drawn upon for this article (all articles from reputable news agencies). Note that the Sources section of a Wikinews article is not a link farm of handy links to other articles that people might be interested in, it is a permanent record of where the information for the Wikinews article came from. Also note that the lede answers, as called for by inverted pyramid style, as many as reasonably possible of the basic questions about the news event.

Pi zero (talk)15:45, 7 December 2011

I completely and totally disagree with your assessment. The suspension was not newsworthy at any time, however, the pepper-spraying of the students was and still is, with major reports in the process of being released in a matter of days to weeks - all of which highlight the incident, not the suspension of the police. The attempt to highlight a non-notable element of a news story in order to downplay the incident was either an act of incomprehensible incompetence, or a transparent attempt to dismiss it, and that is exactly what I objected to in the beginning of this thread, as the editor in question purposefully altered the relevant story to a non-notable one by changing the title. It was ridiculous then and it remains ridiculous now.

Viriditas (talk)10:54, 29 January 2012

Gee. What a proctologist!

Let's see you write a news article then, instead of throwing peanuts from the cheap seats.

Brian McNeil / talk15:14, 29 January 2012

Shouldn't you be on Facebook updating your friends list? It doesn't look like you're writing any news articles on this dead site. Viriditas (talk) 01:29, 31 January 2012 (UTC)

Viriditas (talk)01:29, 31 January 2012

Lemmie see,…

I wrote this a few days ago.

Doubt you could do anywhere near as well — except as a troll, which you're excelling at so far.

Brian McNeil / talk11:06, 1 February 2012

Now I know why that article is on top of the front page. This isn't Wikinews, this is Brian McNeil's ego-news. Thank you for explaining everything, it all makes sense now. No wonder there isn't anyone writing here. It's you and the tumbleweeds, Brian.

Viriditas (talk)11:28, 1 February 2012

Luckily this is the comments namespace, you can troll all you like.

Hint: I'm not responsible for any of the other lead articles, so your implication holds less water than a colander.

Brian McNeil / talk12:05, 1 February 2012