Explaining Southern California's economy

Did the pepper spray cop use excessive force at UC Davis?

AP Photo/The Enterprise, Wayne Tilcock

In this Friday, Nov. 18, 2011, photo University of California, Davis Police Lt. John Pike uses pepper spray to move Occupy UC Davis protesters while blocking their exit from the school's quad Friday in Davis, Calif. Two University of California, Davis police officers involved in pepper spraying seated protesters were placed on administrative leave Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011, as the chancellor of the school accelerates the investigation into the incident.

In just a few days, UC Davis campus cop John Pike has entered his 15-minutes-of-infamy. All it took was a can of weapons-grade pepper spray and a group of Occupy protestors. And the web. And Photoshop. You get the idea. News travels fast and then gets twisted to various creative purposes.

The question is, Did Pike use excessive force in dealing with what looked to many like a peaceful demonstration? I think he probably could have held off on the pepper spray. But Higher Ed Live points out that what observers might think is non-violent protest can be perceived differently by police. Cited is a report that grew out of a similar protest at UCLA in 2008, which Higher Ed Live references:

[O]ne very interesting issue was addressed when the report looked at UCLA PD’s use-of-force regulations. This issue was that among the factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of force is “whether the suspect is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight.”

This is the very issue that is at the heart of last Friday’s incident at UC Davis. Were the students sitting linked arm-in-arm peacefully protesting, or actively resisting police? Were campus police within their rights to deploy force to disperse them?

At UCLA at least, here’s what the report finds:

“It appears from interviews and correspondence that many students and faculty members were under the impression that…locking arms with others to block a pathway would be regarded by police as passive and peaceful resistance not justifying the use of force. In fact, demonstrators who stand, sit, or lie down with arms locked to one another are engaged in ‘active resistance’ as UCLA and other police departments understand that phrase…”


Street art Beaujolais Nouveau revives a great business story


Matthew DeBord

Is has arrived! And this time, the Beaujolais Nouveau gets a rad street art label. Move over, flowers and colorful abstractions! Wine marketing marches on!

In the wine world, the third Thursday in November is a small big deal. That's because it's when the Beaujolais Nouveau, the first French wine of the current vintage (2011 in this case), hits bars, stores, and restaurants. This is all an outgrowth of the fact that when the Beaujolais Nouveau originally appeared in France, it was an excuse to indulge in a wine-soaked harvest hootenanny.

The wine itself is nothing to write home about: it's a light, thin, fruity red, designed to be made fast and drunk even faster (Allez!). But it's become something of the Thanksgiving institution in the U.S., given that it shows up right before Turkey Day.

The King of Beaujolais, Georges Duboeuf, dispatches many thousands of colorfully labeled bottles of his now-world-renowned Beaujolais by boat and plane to the far-flung corners of the globe.


Why is Occupy LA so much more calm — and successful — than other Occupy movements?

Corey Moore/KPCC

Hundreds of Occupy protesters gathered downtown LA for a march through the financial district

The news broke earlier today that Occupy LA has been offered a pretty sweet deal by the city to clear its tents from the lawn around City Hall. In return, the two-month-old protest movement — which has been for the most part a model of peaceful agitation — will get 10,000 feet of nearby office space.

For $1!

Oh, and the city is evidently throwing in some farmland.

Yes, farmland.

For Occupy LA protesters who might, you know, want to work the land.

This is a remarkable development, for three reasons:

  • Occupy LA, unlike its far more belligerent cousins in the Bay Area, is beginning to shift into something of an entrepreneurial mode. It trades tents, dead grass, and cold nights for...office space! Occupy LA, in short, is starting to organize itself like a business, or at least a more conventional political movement, with the eminently practical goal of moving its operations indoors.
  • Occupy is also proving that the ostensibly leaderless movement can throw up some quasi-leaders. Members of Occupy LA have clearly been negotiating with the city, and while this is ticking off the movement's hardcore elements, it's a welcome evolution.
  • The farming thing is strange, but also consistent with the ethos of earlier protest movements — such as those that emerged in the 1960s — which often had a communal, agrarian component. 


Supercommittee Fail: You didn't seen this coming?

So, you might have heard by now that the Congressional "Supercommittee," a bipartisan effort to overcome partisan gridlock, has succumbed to...partisan gridlock.

This is from USA Today:

Republicans refused to cross their ideological line against increasing taxes. Democrats refused to allow cuts in popular programs that serve the elderly and poor without a compensating growth of government income, especially from the wealthiest Americans.

No one really knew what the Supercommittee was doing, anyway, so the sham of its negotiations — which looked as if they would have high sham potential from the git-go — ended in #EPICFAIL shouldn't shock anyone. But the USA Today report is admirable for starkly stating the core difference between the two sides. 

That said, it's easy to cast the Democrats as pro-tax, in the interest of being pro-poor and pro-old folks, while saying that the Republicans wouldn't raise taxes if the future of the, um...republic depended on it.