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Brutality Or Stupidity?

For me, it’s hard to tell which in this video. It’s of last night’s Occupy Philadelphia protests, with police horses injuring a reporter who is in the crowd. Kevin Gosztola referred to it in a Twitter message as being a deliberate attack, but if you watch the video carefully, it doesn’t look that way:

I don’t see the police officers who are on foot making offensive moves. The most assertive they get is when one of them urges the protesters to get back on the sidewalk. The horses, particularly the dark one with the white streak on his face that appears to be the one that hit reporter Vanessa Maria, seem to be very nervous, thanks to all the noise, the large number of people who are shouting and looking cross, and perhaps confusion on the part of their riders. Whatever the reason, they all look to be nervous and twitchy.

My experience with riding horses is extremely limited, but it has left me with one overriding impression – it’s not like driving a car. A horse has a mind of its own, which it can lose all too easily. If it loses its mind, the rider transitions from being the driver to being a passenger.

Here’s a screenshot I took from that video of the horse after it hit Ms. Maria. It still looks agitated:

Here’s a picture of another horse rearing up, with the nearest demonstrator at least ten yards away:

I don’t see why its rider would have had the horse do that.

Experienced horse people are encouraged to comment…

I remember the Philadelphia Police Department from the old Frank Rizzo days, when in any given month the cops could have killed more people than the criminals did. I’m not inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. Still, I think this particular incident is more a result of foolishness than deliberate brutality. The foolishness was bringing these animals so close to so many agitated people and losing control of them. The force they represent doesn’t seem to be needed, and I hope the lesson they’ve learned is not to bring them next time.

When they’ve made that decision, or failed to make it, perhaps we’ll see whether Kevin is right or I am.

Cross posted from Slobber And Spittle (where embedding video works ūüėČ )

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