After Lt. John Pike shot the pepper spray that was heard round the world at a November Occupy-related protest at UC Davis, it seemed everyone had an opinion on the propriety of using the military-grade weapon on college kids at a protest.
Some pointed to the First Amendment, which enshrines a right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances. Others cited video showing the protesters being warned that if they did not move willingly, they would be subject to force. Fox News’ Megyn Kelly opined that the crowd-control tool was “essentially a food product,” causing mass internet ire and a petition urging the commentator to eat some pepper spray if she thought it was no big deal. But among those who spoke up about their thoughts on the matter was actually the man who invented pepper spray, who one might think would support its use at least somewhat liberally.
But pepper spray’s creator Kamran Loghman has gone on the record after he viewed the shocking video of college students being hit full-force in the face with the substance after engaging in a sit-in-like protest, and says that the spray was never intended to be used so casually. Loghman described his horror at watching a clip of the UC Davis incident:
“It is becoming more and more fashionable right now, this day and age, to use chemical on people who have an opinion. And that to me is a complete lack of leadership both in the police department and other people who cannot really deal with the root of the problem and they want to spray people to quiet them down. And it’s really not supposed to be that. It’s not a thing that solves any problem nor is it something that quiets people down.”
Of the impetus behind the invention of pepper spray, he says:
“Prior to [the existence of pepper spray], in the use of force by law enforcement, when you encounter somebody who is aggressive, let’s say somebody who is under the influence of narcotic or alcohol and you arrest them and the highway patrol wants to take him out of the car and they become combatant. At that time, police officers had really little choice. It was either baton or go to deadly force. By introduction of pepper spray, it was very quick. Police officers were trained to do that. They could arrest the individual, take him back to the jail, wash their face and give them proper decontamination and that was the end of the story. And in that regard it was a great weapon. It saved hundreds of thousands of lives in the last twenty years.”