Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

84-Year-Old Dorli Rainey Among ‘Occupy’ Protesters Pepper Sprayed by Seattle Cops; Pregnant Teen Hospitalized

A pregnant teenager was hospitalized after being attacked with pepper spray by police during an ‘Occupy Seattle’ protest yesterday evening. Also attacked were a priest and an elderly woman.

According to the Associated Press, Seattle police claim they attacked the mostly peaceful demonstrators after warning them repeatedly not to block downtown streets and intersections during rush hour.

Protesters say the assault was an indiscriminate and unjustified use of force against unarmed, peaceful protesters.

It is hard to imagine what would warrant pepper spraying a 4’10” (1.47m), 84-year-old woman, but that’s exactly what Seattle cops did to Dorli Rainey, a longtime area activist (click here to see a photo of Rainey after she was sprayed). Also attacked was a priest and a pregnant 19-year-old woman who identified herself as only Jennifer. She was hurt badly enough that she was rushed by ambulance to nearby Harborview Medical Center.

Seattle police were shockingly callous about their actions. Spokesman Jeff Kappel told the AP that pepper spray is “not age-specific” and that it is “no more dangerous to someone who is 10 or someone who is 80.”

But pepper spray can be very dangerous, even deadly. From the European  Parliament Scientific and Technological Options Assessment report “An Appraisal of Technologies of Political Control”:

The effects of pepper spray are far more severe, including temporary blindness which lasts from 15–30 minutes, a burning sensation of the skin which lasts from 45 to 60 minutes, upper body spasms which force a person to bend forward and uncontrollable coughing making it difficult to breathe or speak for between 3 to 15 minutes.

For people with asthma or certain other conditions, pepper spray can be a death sentence. According to the Los Angeles Times, 61 people in the U.S. died after being pepper sprayed by police in one five-year period alone. Interestingly, pepper spray is banned for use in war under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

So, a chemical weapon that is banned in warfare was used against an unarmed, peaceful 84-year-old woman and a pregnant teenager. And Seattle police are defending their actions. “Pepper spray was deployed only against subjects who were either refusing a lawful order to disperse or engaging in assaultive behavior toward officers,” Kappel wrote on the department’s blog. As for that “assaultive behavior,” the AP reports one man who threw an “unknown liquid” at an officer and a teenage girl who swung a stick at another officer.

Six protesters were arrested.

As for Dorli Rainey, she told the AP that getting pepper sprayed won’t stop her from protesting against corporate greed and economic inequality. “I’m tough,” the 84-year-old defiantly declared.

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