The UC-Davis police’s pepper-spraying of nonviolent protesters was contrary to the controlling law in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes California.
As The Atlantic’s Garance Franke-Ruta documents, illegal violence by law enforcement against peaceful demonstrators has become commonplace. And it must stop. This is not how a free country governs itself.
UPDATE: The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal argues that the officer who did the spraying is just the product of the system of policing that we constructed. While true, that argument opens the door for the Nuremberg defense, and that door is one we want to stay firmly closed. Police officers have an affirmative duty not only to obey the law themselves but also to disobey illegal commands. No one gets off the hook. No one.