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Lt. John Pike Goes Viral (12)

Were it not for all that still and video documentation, in the late afternoon of November 18, 2011 we’d have found ourselves in a protesters’-word-vs.-police-officers’-word situation, with the cops’ version most likely prevailing in the absence of hard evidence to the contrary. And, since the protesters would probably not have the ability to differentiate between MK-4 and MK-9, Pike and his “troops,” as he liked to militarize them semantically, would only have had to rustle up a few cans of authorized MK-4 while hiding the MK-9 in order to appear to have followed the rules. I doubt that it would have lasted more than two news cycles. […]

Lt. John Pike Goes Viral (9)

In his 1968 book The Joys of Yiddish, Leo Rosten defined chutzpah as “that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.” In that spirit (though he’s not Jewish), John Pike, formerly a lieutenant in the campus police at the University of California, Davis, filed a worker’s compensation claim with the State of California for “psychiatric injury,” which can result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). […]

Lt. John Pike Goes Viral (8)

To the $1 million settlement in the UC Davis pepper-spray lawsuit add the $1,116,135 in actual monies paid out to manage this crisis, plus $1 million for other internal expenses and $1 million for diminished reputation. And let’s not forget the $240K Pike cost the university as settlement in a 2008 racial and sexual discrimination lawsuit resulting from his alleged homophobic slurs directed at an openly gay Asian-American fellow officer. Grand total so far: $4,356,135. That’s one pricey hire. […]

Lt. John Pike Goes Viral (7)

“Waddling like a cocksure duck,” as one commentator at the Dangerous Minds site put it, Pike with his blithe disregard for the multiple still and video cameras trained on him all but ensured that his actions, and his attitude in performing them, would go viral. What resulted was not only Pike’s transformation into a memetic icon but, much more importantly, an object lesson in the potency of citizen journalism as enabled by the internet. […]

Lt. John Pike Goes Viral (3)

There’s no ambiguity in these images from UC Davis. This is a purposeful individual in uniform, demonstrating what happens to anyone who refuses to obey his commands and challenges the powerful institution he represents. You’re watching a man knowingly craft a public image of himself in his official role. No reason, then, to feel any sympathy for them if society weighs them in the balance and finds them wanting — nor if juries find them civilly or criminally liable. When Pike waves his can at the observers before starting to spray, he’s telling them to bring it on. […]