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Pepper Spray: It’s for Shopping, Not Just Protests

Yes, we’re talking about pepper spray today, and it’s not all about Occupy Wall Street, Los Angeles or any UC school campus (we’re talking to you, police at UC Davis!). It is all about what happened on Black Friday at a Porter Ranch Wal-Mart.

The story: Shoppers at the Wal-Mart started shouting and ripping at the plastic wrap encasing gaming consoles at about 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, in one of the pre-Black Friday sales. Shortly after the pushing started, the area filled with pepper spray, according to witnesses.

The question: Was the pepper-spray-armed shopper a “competitive shopper” who purposefully used the spray to gain the edge on her fellow shoppers, or did she use it to protect herself from the angry mob in a frenzy for post-Thanksgiving deals?

Although we defend a person’s right to prevent themselves from being attacked, injured or otherwise trampled by a herd of determined deal-hunters, we do wonder about the fact that the pepper spray was brought to the store in the first place. It seems an unlikely way to protect yourself from other shoppers, especially if there’s somewhat of a riot happening anyway-protesters at Occupy gatherings will be expecting some sort of push back from the police, where shoppers may not be anticipating any kind of riot-busting techniques to go down at the Wal-Mart.

The questions continue, as witnesses are being interviewed about what actually happened, which should shed clarity on whether or not the incident was offensive or defensive. The unidentified woman involved in the pepper-spraying did go to an LAPD station Saturday, but declined to answer questions about the incident, and was not taken into custody.

What do you think about this incident? Do you think that she was protecting herself and other shoppers from an angry mob? Or do you think she brought the pepper spray intending to use it to clear a path for her shopping success? Was she wrong, either way, to bring pepper spray to a shopping event, even one as unique as Black Friday? Let us know in the comments.

If you have been arrested at a protest or have had your civil rights violated, we’re here to help. Please call us call the Law Offices of Glew & Kim immediately on 714-713-4525, or use our online form for a Free Case Analysis. We believe in equal access to justice for all.