No Pepper Spray on Nonviolent Protesters


For immediate release
April 25, 2005

Pepper Spray By Q-Tip Trial Will Go To Jury This Week
Closing Arguments Expected Tuesday

Contact:  Karen Pickett, 510-548-3113

San Francisco--Attorneys for the Plaintiffs in the Pepper Spray civil rights case in federal court rested their case at the end of last week.  Attorneys say they expect to make their closing statements on Tuesday, after witnesses for the Defense testify on Monday. 

Meanwhile, interest remains high in Humboldt County where the liquid pepper spray swabbing took place in 1997 in the course of the Headwaters Forest campaign.  A poll in the Eureka Reporter newspaper asked the question:  Is swabbing pepper spray around the eye a good idea? By a ratio of almost two to one, readers said No.

66.03 % said No (Swabbing pepper spray around the eye is NOT a good idea)
33.97 % said Yes.  (See and graphic below.)

The witnesses expected to be called by the defense today include:

  • Humboldt Sheriff Sgt. Pete Ciarabellini, head of the Earth First! Response Team
  • Eureka Police Sgt. James Manos, who gave the command for pepper spray use at the sit-in at Congressman Riggs' office
  • Sheriffs' Deputy Roy Reynolds, from the Special Response Team, has used methods alternative to pepper spray, namely an electric grinder to safely extract protesters using the "lock box" devices used by Headwaters Forest activists at the sit-ins in 1997.
  • Sheriffs' Deputy Phillip Daastol who has also used the grinder tool to get protesters out of nearly one hundred lock boxes with not one injury to activist or officer, as he previously testified.
  • Sheriffs' Deputy Randy Held has also responded to forest protests when demonstrators have locked themselves in.
  • Rhonda Pelligrini, aide at Congressman Riggs' office when the sit-in occurred.
    Don Cameron, Defense's police practices expert

Court sessions are at the S.F. Federal Building (450 Golden Gate Ave., room 10, 19th floor) before the Hon. Susan Illston, from 8:30 AM to 1:30 PM.

Background and legal documents available at . Press packets including video footage and courtroom drawings are available through the above number


Newspaper's Reader Poll shows Humboldt County citizens disapprove pepper spray swabbing by their sheriff's department by nearly two to one ratio.

The Eureka Reporter  4/23/05
Poll Results
To the Question: Is swabbing pepper spray around the eye a good idea?
Our readers voted:
Yes: 33.97%
No: 66.03%


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