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TinotopiaLog → Riots and ‘Non-Lethal’ Force (23 Oct 2004)
Saturday 23 October 2004

Riots and ‘Non-Lethal’ Force

Two points:

1. Interesting that in Boston, when their team wins, they riot. Meanwhile, in the ‘unsophisticated’ Midwest, there are no reports of unrest. Some of this might be put down to the fact that the Red Sox stink, and the Cardinals are, historically speaking, the second-most-successful team in baseball (behind only the Yankees). St. Louis fans are used to success, and they know how to handle it.

On the other hand, Chicagoans were known for rioting following NBA victories, despite being Midwesterners and having a reliably good team in the Bulls.

I can understand that you might have public-safety problems with large, drunk crowds. I don’t understand why the problem isn’t the possibility of people getting trampled, or fights breaking out, or random accidental propery damage, or things like that. But what motivates people to light fires and tip over cars? What on earth? This is a way of celebrating? The people who own those tipped-over cars are probably Sox fans, too.

2. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: ‘non-lethal force’ is a boondoggle. It’s unusual that the police are actually accepting responsibility in the case of Victoria Snelgrove, who died on Thursday after being hit in the eye with a ‘non-lethal’ projectile fired by police. The normal police tack in this kind of situation would be to blame everyone in the universe except the police for ‘creating a dangerous situation’ — all the while ignoring that situations tend to become much more dangerous when some fool starts firing projectiles, non-lethal or not, into a crowd.

The big problem comes from the police being much more willing to use force at all when they have ‘non-lethal’ options at their disposal, particularly when these ‘non-lethal’ options don’t look at all menacing. A billy-club can certainly be lethal if you’re hit with it in the wrong way: but a line of cops brandishing clubs is inherently threatening, and likely to have an effect without anyone being hit over the head. A cop loading a pepper-sauce gun doesn’t have the same menacing aspect: he’s going to have to fire that thing before he has any effect.

Posted by tino at 00:16 23.10.04
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Itís unusual that the police are actually accepting responsibility in the case of Victoria Snelgrove, who died on..

This is perhaps a good move for the police spin machine. No one is going to believe that Victoria Snelgrove was rioting or causing trouble. Plus she has the perfect ahh, “look” to be a police “overstepping their authority” poster child.

Now if it had been a drunk, loud, frat boy…

Posted by: steel at October 24, 2004 08:44 PM