Santa Cruz Indymedia :
Santa Cruz Indymedia

Commentary :: Environment & Food

Humboldt Sheriff's pepper spray attack blinds collective vision

When Humboldt Sheriff deputies Q-tip swabbed chemical pepper spray into the eyes of forest defenders, the collective vision of people everywhere was blinded with searing pain. People who see the problems caused by corporate logging (Maxxam/Pacific Lumber) are using their bodies to protect the trees. The pepper spray eye swabbing response by the Sheriffs shows their fear of our collective vision, they want people to be blinded to the truth..
Something about the importance of both collective and personal vision occurred to me while heading to the Q-tip pepper spray trial in SF. Though i was unable to attend the solidarity rally on Weds at the courthouse, i had time to rest and think while waiting out the daytime heat of the valley in Cache Creek Wildlife Refuge..

Spent the day giving thanks for the ability to see and have legs to ride a bicycle. Looking at the Gray/Foothill pines (Pinus sabiana), the seductive beauty of their thin whispering threadlike needles, i really appreciate eyesight. Having vision, personal and collective, allows people to collect information and evaluate the conditions of our surroundings..

The people who had pepper spray swabbed into their eyes by Humboldt County Sheriffs were blinded for a period of time by the harsh chemicals found in the pepper spray. Long term side effects could interfere with the sensitive visual organs that enable people to see the lovely trees we try to protect. It was their vision (without blinders) that allowed them to observe the destruction caused by Maxxam/Pacific Lumber's devastating clear cut logging..

When the Humboldt Sheriff gave orders to swab pepper spray into the eyes of the forest defenders, they attacked the collective vision of people who see the problems caused by destructive corporate logging. Would law enforcement be happier if we all walked through life with blinders, engaging in mass consumption and being oblivious to the devastation caused by corporate greed..

Our collective and personal vision cannot be threatened by authority figures who wish to blind us from observing the truth..

Below is some medical info from the linx at website. Thought these paragraphs dealing with the health effects of pepper spray's main ingredient capsicum on the cornea is important. The capsicum concentration in police pepper spray is far greater than any natural concentration in a living pepper. The concentration of capsicum can increase the severity exponentially, and this is assuming sprayed from the recommended 2-3 foot distance, NOT direct contact with the cornea via swabbing..

It is unfortunate that many of the results below are from subjecting rats to capsicum exposure. Do we really need to torture animals to learn the danger of a chemical weapon designed to hurt people?

"Oleoresin capsicum (OC) is an oily extract of pepper plants of the genus Capsicum. Each year, millions of pounds of capsicum are imported into the United States, primarily from India, Japan, Africa and Mexico. It is used as a spice in salsa, chili, curries, and hot sauces; as a pharmacologic agent in topical anesthetic and analgesic creams; and as the principal active ingredient in OC spray, or "pepper spray," used by police and others as an antipersonnel agent. OC extract consists of a complex mixture of fat soluble phenols known as capsaicinoids; capsaicin (trans-8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide) and dihydrocapsaicin, the most potent homologues, make up 80-90% of the total. Capsaicinoid content determines the "hotness" of the extract. The relative hotness is measured in Scoville units (the greatest dilution of pepper extract that can be detected by the human tongue).(1-3)

The capsaicinoid content of extracts used in pepper sprays varies widely among manufacturers, from 1.2% to 12.6%. Since the concentration of extract in pepper sprays also varies (5-15%), the potential risks associated with capsaicinoid exposure may vary by as much as 30-fold among brands of OC spray.

Depending on brand, an OC spray may contain water, alcohols, or organic solvents as liquid carriers; and nitrogen, carbon dioxide, or halogenated hydrocarbons (such as Freon, tetrachloroethylene, and methylene chloride) as propellants to discharge the canister contents.(3) Inhalation of high doses of some of these chemicals can produce adverse cardiac, respiratory, and neurologic effects, including arrhythmias and sudden death. The health effects of solvents and propellants are beyond the scope of this article, but they too need to be considered in evaluating potential hazards and effects of exposure to specific brands of OC spray.

Eye symptoms. Common ocular symptoms associated with OC spray exposure include redness, swelling, severe burning pain, stinging, conjunctival inflammation, lacrimation, blepharospasm and involuntary or reflex closing of the eyelids. In the rat, application of 1% capsaicin to the eye causes neurogenic inflammation and loss of reaction to chemical and mechanical stimuli for up to a week. In humans, superficial anesthesia and loss of the blink reflex may lead to corneal abrasions from contact lenses or foreign bodies. Capsaicin disrupts the epithelial layer of the cornea, so persons with impaired corneal integrity (from exposure keratitis, keratomalacia, or recurrent corneal erosion) are more susceptible to severe ocular effects than those with normal corneas. Ocular exposure to OC should be treated by flushing for at least 15 minutes with water.(3,7,20)"

Solidaridad! An attack on one is an attack on all..

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