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Some background: Reactions to the UC Davis infamous pepper spray incident have been varied. Some commentators, including Megan Garber of the Nieman Journalism Lab, are saying the event, specifically the iconic video and images generated by cellphones and cameras, will be very valuable to the Occupy Movement at large.
At UC Davis students held both a creepily silent protest aimed at Chancellor Katehi and a rally on Monday. Meanwhile the glorious internet has been busy creating a meme out of the image of pepper-spraying Lt. Pike (at least one such image made it to the UC Davis rally on Monday). Buzzfeed Editor Matt Stopera told NPR ”this is definitely going to be one of the bigger, more important memes.”
Brady Hall has launched a Tumblr collecting these images. We asked him 5 questions via email.
1. Who or what gave you the initial idea to put the image of Lt. Pike in historical images?
I saw the photos and video of PSC when they first broke a few days ago and was just as disgusted as everybody else. I’ve been a supporter of the OWS movement and have moved my money into a credit union (the best and most tangible thing us average people can do!) so the actions of this guy were really shockingly terrible and somehow managed to outshine the previous top dog example of police brutality, namely the photo of 84 year old Dorli Rainey post-pepper spray. Suddenly last night (Sunday, November 20) I saw an image of PSC blasting the lady in Seurat’s famous painting [below] and knew a Tumblr was in order.
2. Are the images you’re getting mostly submissions or originals?
At this point it’s mostly submissions. I made the first one (Christina’s World) and the 2001, Guernica, Kent State and a few others. But when I roused myself from bed this morning I noticed a flood of submissions. I’m still going through them and queuing them.
3. What actions do you think should be taken at UC Davis after the incident? Do you think administrative leave is an adequate punishment for the UC Davis police chief?
I think that the people in charge at UC Davis should be fired or at the very least severely disciplined. The rank and file cops do not beat and pepper spray peaceful protesters unless there is either an order to do so or a lack of an order not to do so. In my mind either of those scenarios are equally inappropriate and especially in light of the constant stream of police brutality images in the past month. When people simply sit, and do nothing else, and do not threaten physically, they should not be subjected to this kind of treatment.
4. Which image so far is your favorite? Do you think any of them could become iconic images?
I hate to toot my own horn but the 2001 star child one makes me laugh out loud still. It’s that puny little arm trying so hard to hose down omnipotent Dave Bowman Baby.
5. What plans do you have going forward? Any other Tumblrs planned, specifically OWS-related?
I have no plans. I’ll just keep updating as long as there is interest. I am realistic and understand that crap like this has an amazingly short shelf life!
You can submit your own “proof of PSC pepper spraying somebody in history” to firstname.lastname@example.org.