This Is the Pepper Spray Police Used on UC Davis Protesters (Updated)

Illustration for article titled This Is the Pepper Spray Police Used on UC Davis Protesters (Updated)

We're awaiting confirmation from UC-Davis police, but after examining photos and videos of the incident, this is what we believe campus police used against the Occupy Wall Street protesters at UC Davis this weekend. It's nasty.


This here is the MK-9 stream canister, one of the strongest available forms of pepper spray. How peppery your spray is can be measured by its Major Capaicinoid content, and you can determine the amount based on the coloring of the can. In this case, cops appear to have used a 1.3 percent solution. The only time a spray is more potent? When it's meant to stop a freaking bear.

Assuming it's 1.3 percent—or even if it was the slightly less-intense 0.7 percent, as some pictures indicate—that's some heavy duty stuff. It's much stronger than the 0.2 percent that's authorized for tactical deployment, making this a sizable hammer for this particular nail. And even if it were an appropriate dose, it was sprayed at near point-blank range. The recommended minimum distance? Six feet, and it remains effective at 18-20 feet.

At that high-level dosage, the burning, boiling eye sensation and difficulty breathing would obviously be amplified. Any form of pepper spray can be serious trouble—even lethal—for someone with asthma or a heart condition, and we're talking the stuff the Marines train with here.

So that's one more bizarre layer to the already-surreal UC0Davis scene: the spray used on kneeling protestors was strong enough to take down a bear. [Defense Technology]


Update: Sharp-eyed commenter marinsmostwanted found a photo of the canister that seems to definitely show an orange band, which would make this 0.7 percent MC. We're very relieved, in retrospect, that no bears showed up to Friday's rally.




With respect to the author of this article, it implies some commonly held beliefs about OC spray that are inaccurate. Before I go any further a little about my background. I work as a professional in the security field, I am also in the military with a security unit with approximately 9 years of experience. I have been sprayed with OC in the face twice for training purposes (yes they do that).

What people need to understand about OC concentrations is this: Upping the concentration does NOT effect the amount of pain perceived by the average individual, what it does effect is DURATION of time that the agent will have. The higher the concentration, the longer you will feel the effects, in addition it has a slight effect on how quickly it will become effective.

You would be hard pressed to tell the difference of being sprayed with 0.2% and 1.5%... They both feel like the worst sunburn you have ever had. The difference is that you will recover much more quickly with 0.2% than the "stronger stuff". OC is very safe, however nasty. It will not have any long-term effects on an individual (other than the psychological one that tells you that shit sucks). Nobody as far as I am aware of has ever died due to exposure to OC.

This is in contrast to MACE which is NOT OC. MACE is a man made chemical that may, in very high concentrations, lead to pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) leading to suffocation and death. This is also why MACE is on the decline an not used very much anymore.

So WRONG on OC killing people. NOT TRUE!

WRONG on concentration hurting more... just longer without treatment.

FYI is sprayed with OC, rinse face and eyes with whole milk. Milk contains a fat that breaks down the OC.

Just say'n... Don't be a sensationalist reporter that doesn't know what the hell they are talking about. And by the way lest you think that I am taking the side of the cops, I'm not. I thought that was a blatant misuse of the use of force continuum, but I qualify that by stating that I wasn't there, and taking a short snippet of time can take things out of context. BUT it appears to to me that the officer was in the wrong.