Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
November 26, 2011

Pepper Spray Friday: The Issue Still Pattern of Abuse by Police

Kinston pepper 1

Kinston pepper 2

Kinston pepper 4

Kinston pepper 5


Bill Johnson, director of the Kinston Department of Public Safety, confirmed the use of pepper spray but downplayed the incident.

“(There was) a little pushing and shoving going on in the crowd and that type of thing, and it started to elevate a little bit,” Johnson said Friday. “The officer did a quick burst of pepper spray into the air. No one was sprayed in the face, no one was sprayed directly.”

Police use of pepper spray on shoppers called unnecessary (Kinston.com)

Yes, “shopper rage” or “competitive shopping” is something to be concerned about in our hyper-commercialized society. Still, while a lot of the media attention has been directed at the shopper in Porter Ranch, California, who used pepper spray on fellow shoppers to secure an Xbox (which she purchased, and then got away), I’m more concerned with the incident in Kinston, North Carolina, consistent with a string of high profile incidents against Occupy recently, in which it was local police who sprayed shoppers as a means of crowd control.

If you watch the video, it’s obvious the spraying had already occurred before the start of the clip as you can see people wiping their eyes or breathing into their clothes. Otherwise, it’s not till almost a minute into the video that you see police slamming down and arresting Gordon Jackson, a former cop, himself, who reportedly interfered with the police on duty trying to protect his granddaughter with asthma.

In spite of the fact there is no smoking gun in the video (or, smoking canister, as it were), I’m interested in these still frames and, particularly, the officer on he left who seems to be supervising the arrest. For the life of me, I’m trying to figure out what that object is that he’s dangling from his right hand. Maybe it’s just a beverage, though it might also conform to this shape.

Kinston video here.

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