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 colouring of the can. In this case, cops appear to have used a 1.3 per cent solution. The only time a spray is more potent? When it's meant to stop a freaking bear.
Assuming it's 1.3 per cent -- or even if it was the slightly less-crazy 0.7 per cent, as some pictures indicate -- that's some heavy duty stuff. It's much stronger than the 0.2 per cent that's authorised for tactical deployment, making this a very large 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? 1.8m, and it remains effective at 5-6m. Translation: The usage on Friday would probably be a little excessive even when used in the field against someone a lot more violent.
At that crazy-strong 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 UC Davis scene: the spray on kneeling protestors was strong enough to take down a charging bear. [Defense Technology]