To serve and protect? Pregnant woman miscarries after being pepper sprayed

Recently, there have been several incidents of violence between protesters and police throughout the various occupied cities. Yesterday, we wrote an update about Chancellor Katehi at UC Davis, where peacefully protesting students were sprayed with pepper spray. This incident has entered our cultural consciousness so deeply that there’s even a new meme making the rounds in which a cop from the UC Davis protest is depicted casually pepper spraying everything from works of art to the Beatles.

However, as the police begin to deploy increasingly violent tactics, things are getting out of control. This story is really horrific.

“I was standing in the middle of the crowd when the police started moving in,” she says. “I was screaming, ‘I am pregnant, I am pregnant. Let me through. I am trying to get out.’”

At that point, a Seattle police officer lifted his foot and it hit her in the stomach, and another officer pushed his bicycle into the crowd, again hitting Fox in the stomach. “Right before I turned, both cops lifted their pepper spray and sprayed me. My eyes puffed up and my eyes swelled shut,” she says.

She was fine for a couple days, until she started feeling sick.

Jennifer went to the doctor and found out her baby had no heartbeat. “They said the damage was from the kick and that the pepper spray got to it [the fetus], too.”

The Buzzfeed link above has images and video of Jennifer after the incident. Please note, they are difficult to see.

Meanwhile, in a land far from reality, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s talk show to discuss the UC Davis pepper spray incident. Here’s how that went down:

Bill O’Reilly: “First of all, pepper spray — that just burns your eyes, right?”
Megyn Kelly: “It’s like a derivative of actual pepper. It’s a food product, essentially.”

O’Reilly continued to defend the officer saying, “I don’t think we have the right to Monday-morning quarterback the police. Particularly at a place like UC Davis, which is a fairly liberal campus.”

In the video Fox and O’Reilly carry on about what the legal issues might be, and what their instincts (gah) are about whether this was “reasonable use of force.” Watch at the risk of being enraged.

I’d ask them whether they think that kicking a woman who’s telling you she’s pregnant is ALSO a “reasonable use of force.”

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9 Comments

  1. Posted November 23, 2011 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    It’s pretty sad that it’s come this far – police kicking a pregnant woman. Now if that woman had had an abortion, well then, THAT would be a problem!!

  2. Posted November 23, 2011 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Essentially a food product? I think Kaheti, the officers involved, and Bill O’Reilly need to get a face full of it. That wouldn’t even be as bad as the protesers who had their mouths forcibly opened and pepper sprayed down their throats.

    http://gizmodo.com/5861773/what-pepper-spray-does-to-your-body

  3. Posted November 23, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Definitely not trying to excuse the actions of the police or blame the alleged victim, but after having some serious questions about the mechanism by which pepper spray “got to” a fetus, and how doctors could say with such certainty that it caused a miscarriage when miscarriage is so dimly understood, I clicked through the links back to The Stranger, which originally reported on the story. Turns out that they have posted a series of updates that call the veracity of the story into question. Peaceful protestors should never have been pepper sprayed, ESPECIALLY vulnerable people like elders and pregnant women. It just seems like the story got attention on Buzzfeed before it was properly vetted.

    This is interesting, however, as the story that launched a thousand concern trolls. “How could she have gone to a protest knowing that she was pregnant?!? She is responsible for this!!” The comments are a real clusterfuck, between real concern for her absolutely real and documented injuries and the possibility that she suffered a pregnancy loss, gnashing of teeth over the ‘murder’ of an embryo, and blaming a woman for causing such death by inviting an act of violence to be perpetrated against her. Add in the fact that she is 19 years old and homeless (which surely made her unfit to parent), and you can just cue the circus music…

    • Posted November 23, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      Can I use the word “real” one more time? Redundant comment is redundant. Sorry, y’all, I think I need some more caffeine.

    • Posted November 23, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      I was just about to point this out. I live in Seattle and a lot of doubt has been cast on her story, for a couple reasons:
      1) She says she knew the sex of the fetus at about 10 weeks, but most ultrasounds aren’t able to detect that information until 16 weeks or so
      2) the first trimester is the most likely time to spontaneously miscarry. While the stress and injury from the protest certainly could have caused it, ultrasounds taken immediately after the injury allegedly showed no harm to the fetus.
      She refuses to turn over any of the medical records she has which allegedly demonstrate a medical opinion linking the pepper spray and kick to the miscarriage. Until she or her eventual attorney make these public I’m not forming an opinion one way or the other.

    • Posted November 23, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for your comment, CM.

      I think the questions about veracity are valid, it seems there are many things yet unanswered about this story. A couple of things to note: You’re completely right about the trolls on the blog, they are demonstrating the very typical victim-blaming narrative that we’ve come to expect. Second, the use of pepper spray (and other violent and dangerous tactics) should really be called out, regardless.

      I’ll keep on top of the story and post any updates that I find.

  4. Posted November 24, 2011 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    This is sickening.
    Even if the story comes out not to be true, the clip from Fox News is disturbing enough on it’s own.

  5. Posted November 25, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Totally agree on the victim-blaming front. Here’s a link to the article I wrote specifically concerning the response to this attack on the internet and in the media.

    http://stillhavetoprotest.wordpress.com/2011/11/23/enough-of-blaming-women/

    Here’s an excerpt:

    “The primary claim against her is that she should have stayed home from the protest to ensure the safety of the fetus. But how does one define safe? For most people, “safety” means having a place to sleep that is protected from the elements, having access to clean water, healthy food, and adequate health care. Fox is homeless, which means her safety was already severely violated–yet no one seemed to care about that. Her safety–and the safety of the fetus–only became a cause of concern when she challenged the very social structures that perch her on the margins of society. What is veiled as a “concern for safety” actually functions as a sexist form of social control, an attempt to frighten women into not exercising our constitutional rights. Glenn Greenwald wrote about this much more broadly on his blog earlier this week, but the fundamentals are the same.

    Another argument against her is that when the crowd refused to disperse, the “action was no longer peaceful” (their words, not mine), and the police then acted within their right to pepper-spray and beat her. But there is no circumstance under which “refusal to disperse” legitimates violent attack–chemically or physically. Not for anyone. That the person who commits civil disobedience must accept their punishment as “right” is a legal fallacy. Fundamentally, when “unjust decisions are accepted, injustice is sanctioned and perpetrated,” noted Howard Zinn. The root question of it all is this: is the rule of law more important than the freedom of assembly?

    The answer, quite clearly, is no. Laws, theoretically, are created to protect rights in the form of a social contract. In American society, laws protect class interests, and they are based on the domination of one (minority) class over another that constitutes the vast majority. This is not a social contract. It is social colonialism. The right to assemble supersedes the rule of law. Therefore, the police–and the people who gave the orders–were in violation, not Fox, not any of the protesters.

    Instead, I argue that by participating in the Occupy Seattle protest, Fox not only acted within her human and legal rights, but she also acted incredibly responsibly–regardless of any pregnancy outcome she may have desired. Current austerity proposals would further undermine the safety she would be able to attain within society, and if she had chosen to carry the pregnancy to term (and not, you know, been beaten and pepper-sprayed) the level of safety she would have been able to provide for her child.

    For many of us on the margins, at the bottom, we stand to benefit far more in the long term from a mass movement that restructures society, that ensures human needs and human safety come before the needs of profit and the protection of property. And I can think of no more moral or responsible action than fighting–at any pregnancy status–for a world free of exploitation, free of oppression, and certainly free of sexist bs like this.

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