No Pepper Spray on Nonviolent Demonstrators

News and Commentary
Chronological Index and Links

Updated 5/7/05

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NOTE: Some of the older links at the start of this chronological listing may no longer work. Links to SF Chronicle and SF Examiner stories work as of 9/7/04.  Santa Rosa Press Democrat stories are listed here chronologically even though there is no way to link directly to them; you can get them free from the Press Democrat's archive by searching by headline and year. See the PD archive search links given in another note at the end of this list. The underlined asterisk ( * ) at the start of each PD listing will jump you to a footnote with links to the archive search. If you select and copy the headline before jumping to the archive search then you can easily paste it into the search form.


Pepper Spray in the Eyes -- Protesters Sue Police / Humboldt deputies accused of torture - San Francisco Chronicle, 10/31/97, Page A-1

Tension high after pepper spray used on protesters "The worst pain I've ever felt." CNN, 10/31/97

Logging protesters file suit over use of pepper spray - CNN, 10/31/97

"A Little Pepper Spray In The Face Area" - Rep. Frank Riggs spins the story in a speech to his Congressional colleagues - Albion Monitor, 11/1/1997

PAGE ONE -- FBI Probes Pepper Spray `Swabbing' Furor over video of cops smearing protesters' eyes - S.F. Chronicle, 11/1/1997

Pepper Spray Torture - S.F. Chronicle editorial, 11/1/1997

* Dangerous Toxic - Marc Lappe, Ph.D., guest column, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 11/4/1997

Pepper-spraying of nonviolent protesters (dead link) - Compilation of initial press coverage by, 11/6/1997

Retired Scientists Cite Pepper Spray Dangers  - S.F. Chronicle, 11/7/1997

* Wake Up And Smell The Pepper Spray - Susan Swartz column, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 11/7/1997

* Riggs' Bad Week - Lonely Defense Of Police Tactics Leaves Congressman Under Siege - Santa Rosa Press Democrat editorial, 11/8/1997

Legal Papers Defend Use of Pepper Spray In Humboldt Protest - S.F. Chronicle, 11/13/1997

Humboldt County calls its pepper use reasonable -  S.F. Examiner, 11/13/1997

* Clinton Expected to Sign Bill on Headwaters - Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 11/14/1997

Protesters call for pepper spray ban  - S.F. Examiner, 11/14/1997

Pepper Spray Ban Rejected By Judge -  S.F. Chronicle, 11/15/1997

Judge: Pepper spray OK  - S.F. Examiner, 11/15/1997

Justifying torture - Law enforcement arguments in a federal lawsuit are malarkey - pepper spray used senselessly hurts cops as much as protesters  - S.F. Examiner editorial, 11/17/1997

Lungren Faults Humboldt Deputies - Swabbing of pepper spray was a violation, he says  - S.F. Chronicle, 11/19/1997

Pepper spray cops assailed - S.F. Examiner, 11/19/1997

* Lungren On Pepper Spray - Editorial, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 11/20/1997 

Riggs is grilled in TV ad - S.F. Examiner 11/22/1997

Sierra Club Takes a Swing at Riggs - Ad hits logging ties, pepper spraying  - S.F. Chronicle,11/22/1997 

* Riggs Firm in Stand on Pepper Spray - Santa Rosa Press Democrat 12/16/97

Pepper Spray: Torment to Break Political Protest - Editorial, Charles Levendosky, Casper Star-Tribune, 1997 (link is to an archived page in the Internet Archive Wayback Machine)


Pepper Spray Trial Begins - Nicholas Wilson, Albion Monitor, 8/22/1998

Pepper Spray Trial Ends In Hung Jury - Nicholas Wilson, Albion Monitor, 8/31/1998

Torture By Any Other Name - commentary by Nicholas Wilson, Albion Monitor, 8/31/1998

Pepper Spray on Demonstrators OK'd by Judge, New Police Guidelines - Nicholas Wilson, Albion Monitor, 12/14/1998


ACLU Urges 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to Declare Pepper Spray Dangerous and Cruel - ACLU press release, 8/12/1999


Humboldt activists get another trial  - Eric Brazil, S.F. Examiner,  05/05/2000

Environmentalists Who Were Pepper-Sprayed by Police Will Get New Trial - S.F. Chronicle,  5/05/2000

Ruling Could Limit Police Use of Pepper Spray - ACLU News 05/05/2000 (citing LA Times)


Supreme Court sends back Humboldt brutality case - Demonstrators had sued over use of pepper spray - S.F. Chronicle, 10/02/2001


Retrial in Humboldt pepper spray case - Supreme Court denies cops' bid to end lawsuit by anti-logging protesters - S.F. Chronicle, 11/5/2002


Trial Set for Pepper Sprayed Protesters - KRON TV News (San Francisco) with available streaming video, 1/23/2003

Pepper spray lawsuit case to be retried in Eureka -  S.F. Chronicle, 1/24/2003

Pepper spray case revived - S.F. Examiner, 1/24/2003

Activists swabbed with pepper spray want to settle - Mercury News, AP, (free subscription) 2/4/2003

* Pepper spray suit settlement offered - Mike Geniella, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 2/4/2003


Compilation Page of Media Coverage on Eve of Second Trial up to 9/8/04, including stories from:

  • / Bay City News 9/7/04
  • Santa Rosa Press Democrat 9/7/04
  • San Jose Mercury News / Associated Press 9/7/04
  • Kelpie Wilson / TruthOut 9/7/04
  • Democracy Now! 9/8/04
  • Los Angeles Times 9/8/04

Torture In The Redwoods - Kelpie Wilson, Truthout, 9/7/04

* 1998 Pepper Spray Case Retrial Set: New federal jury in SF to weigh use by Humboldt County law enforcement on North Coast logging protesters - Mike Geniella, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 9/7/04

Humboldt Pepper Spray Retrial To Open Wednesday - KTVU-TV story and video-on-demand interview with Spring Lundberg and Bob Bloom, 9/7/04

Second trial begins, opening statements

 KMUD News, 9/9/04, report on first day of trial and interviews with attorney Dennis Cunningham, media coordinator Karen Pickett and plaintiff Maya Portugal
      Listen from our Audio page

Compilation of Media Coverage of Start of Trial up to 9/10/04

  • News / Associated Press 9/9/04

  • News / Bay City News 9/9/04

  • KMUD News 9/9/04

  • San Francisco Chronicle 9/10/04

Coverage of testimony, evidence

Activists recount pepper-spray agony; Logging protesters testify about 1997 sit-ins at 3 sites, Bob Egelko, SF Chronicle 9/16/04

KMUD News, 9/16/04, trial update, interviews with Terri Slanetz and Tony Serra
      Listen from our Audio page

Closing Arguments, Case Goes To Jury

KMUD Radio News - Case Goes to Jury - 9/21/04
(posted 9/27/04)
This 13 minute report includes interesting interviews with attorney Tony Serra and plaintiff Sam Neuwirth. Veteran lawyer Tony talks about closing arguments by both sides and gives his analysis of the jury, including a cautiously optimistic prediction. Sam, a Humboldt County organic vegetable and dairy farmer, speaks eloquently about how he got involved in the protests, including seeing cumulative impacts of PL clearcutting, especially flooding and siltation. He comments on the limitations of the legal system, but says the trial effort and solidarity was inspiring, empowering and a good omen for the movement.

Pepper Spray Case Going to Jury - San Francisco Chronicle, Bob Egelko, 9/21/04

Pepper-Spray Case Goes to Jury in California - New York times, Carolyn Marshall, 9/22/04

Calif. Jury Weighs Police Abuse Case - Seattle Post Intelligencer/Associated Press, David Kravets, 9/22/04

Hung Jury, Mistrial

KMUD Radio News - Hung Jury - 9/22/04
(posted 9/27/04)
This 15 minute report of the trial outcome includes an interview with paralegal Alicia Littletree. She talks about what she heard from the jurors, including the fact that the first jury vote was 6-2, and it never changed. The two jurors who supported the cops accepted all defense arguments and rejected all plaintiff arguments. Alicia said she was surprised that she felt disappointed but not discouraged by the outcome. She is ready to keep fighting, and sees the same attitude among the plaintiffs and legal team. She noted that there were no African Americans on the jury panel, the very group that witnesses the most police misconduct. She said Sheriff Philp should note the 6-2 jury vote that his pepper spray use policy constitutes excessive force, and he should change it if he wants to be reelected in two years.

Judge Declares Mistrial In Humboldt Pepper Case - Press, David Kravets 9/22/04

Mistrial in pepper spray suit - Jurors deadlock 6-2 in favor of demonstrators- San Francisco Chronicle, Bob Egelko, 9/23/04

Humboldt pepper spray case again ends in mistrial - Sacramento Bee, Claire Cooper, 9/23/04

Mistrial Declared in Pepper Spray Trial - Santa Rosa Press Democrat/Associated Press, David Kravets, 9/23/04 (This is the longest and fullest version of the AP coverage. A somewhat shorter version is in San Jose Mercury-News, 9/23/04)

Pepper Spray Case Ends in Mistrial - Los Angeles Times, Lee Romney, 9/23/04 (Available in LA Times archive for a fee)

Pepper spray still burns in wake of mistrial - Eureka Times-Standard, John Driscoll, 9/25/04 (The view from behind the Redwood Curtain)


Third Trial, April 12, 2005

Major Newspaper Editorials Agree in 1997: Q-Tip Pepper Spray Is Torture (posted 4/11/05) A compilation of November 1997 editorials by the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner and Los Angeles Times shows they were unanimous in condemning as torture and police brutality the actions of the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department in this case as shown on the shocking police videos first released to the media on October 31, 1997.

Pepper spray case heads into court once again this month - The Eureka Reporter, Diane M. Batley, 4/1/05 (detailed review of history of the suit)

Pepper spray trial number three begins Tuesday in San Francisco - The Eureka Reporter, Diane M. Batley, 4/10/05

Pepper spray trial under way - Eureka Times-Standard, John Driscoll, 4/14/05

Plaintiffs on witness stand in second day of pepper spray trial - The Eureka Reporter, Diane M. Batley, 4/14/05

Plaintiffs, county sheriff’s deputy testify in detail about application of pepper spray - The Eureka Reporter, Diane M. Batley, 4/15/05

Pepper spray trial to continue tomorrow in San Francisco - The Eureka Reporter,  Diane M. Batley, 4/16/2005 

Pepper spray trial enters second week - The Eureka Reporter,  Diane M. Batley, 4/19/2005 

Former sheriff and police chief, current sheriff testify at pepper spray trial - The Eureka Reporter,  Diane M. Batley, 4/20/2005 

Research scientist, former sheriff testify at third pepper spray trial - The Eureka Reporter,  Diane M. Batley, 4/21/2005 

Plaintiffs rest their case in the pepper spray trial unless ...  - The Eureka Reporter,  Diane M. Batley, 4/22/2005 

Former state attorney general Lungren subpoenaed to appear ... - The Eureka Reporter,  Diane M. Batley, 4/22/2005 

Lungren attempts to have subpoena quashed - The Eureka Reporter,  Diane M. Batley, 4/22/2005 

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

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


Pepper spray trial spills into third week - Eureka Times-Standard, John Driscoll, 4/23/05

With previous attempts at settlement unsuccessful, costs in pepper spray case continue to increase - The Eureka Reporter,  Diane M. Batley, 4/23/2005

Pepper spray heads into third week with defense presenting its case - The Eureka Reporter,  Diane M. Batley, 4/23/2005

Defense calls witnesses to the stand in pepper spray case - The Eureka Reporter,  Diane M. Batley, 4/26/2005

Defense rests its case in pepper spray trial, attorneys present closing arguments, jury in deliberation - The Eureka Reporter,  Diane M. Batley, 4/27/2005

Third federal jury gets Humboldt pepper spray case - The Press Democrat, Mike Geniella, 4/27/05 (note: the link works for about two weeks from date of publication)

Jubilant attorneys emerge from the San Francisco Federal Courthouse after getting a unanimous jury verdict April 28 that Humboldt County officers used unconstitutional excessive force in applying liquid pepper spray to nonviolent forest protesters. From left: plaintiff Terri Slanetz, attorneys Bob Bloom, Ben Rosenfeld, Dennis Cunningham, and Tony Serra. Photo by Eric Risberg/AP copyright 2005. Copied here under Fair Use.

Pepper-sprayed Humboldt activists awarded $1 each by jury - AP/San Francisco Chronicle, Justin M. Norton, 4/28/05

Third Trial Ends With Verdict of Excessive Force and $8 in Damages - CBS 5 News/ Bay City News, Julia Cheever, 4/28/05

Pepper spray trial jury agrees excessive force used - The Eureka Reporter,  Diane M. Batley, 4/29/2005 (includes AP photo of jubilant plaintiffs and lawyers)

Logging protesters win pepper spray case - S. F. Chronicle, Stacy Finz, 4/29/05

Excessive Force - Eureka Times-Standard, John Driscoll, 4/29/05

Split decision in pepper spray case - Santa Rosa Press Democrat - Mike Geniella, 3/29/05

KMUD Radio News on Verdict, Interviews with Spring Lundberg, Dennis Cunningham, Juror Conni Chandler - KMUD News, Estelle Fennell, 3/29/05 (summary, with streaming audio file of whole segment)

Air cloudy after pepper spray trial - Eureka Times-Standard, John Driscoll, 5/3/05 (Defense lawyer Nancy Delaney spins verdict as victory for defense.)

  Plaintiffs Finally Victorious in Third Pepper Spray Lawsuit - Berkeley Daily Planet, Lydia Gans, 5/3/05 (correction: Maxxam takeover of PL was in 1985, not 1991)

Pepper spray saga ends with victory for plaintiffs - The North Coast Journal, Hank Sims, 5/5/05

& About That Goose (commentary) - The North Coast Journal, by Judy Hodgson, publisher, 5/5/05

Pepperspray via Q-tip, war, ecocide, etc. - A culture of torture: out of control? (commentary) - Culture Change e-Letter # 94, by Jan Lundberg, 5/6/05

Find your own fresh news updates with a Google News search for "pepper spray" and Humboldt. Once the results page opens, you can set up a Google News Alert that will automatically email you links to all new media stories about the case within hours after they appear.

See also our Audio Index page for links to radio news and interviews about this case.

See also our Press Release and Media Advisory Index page.

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* Note: Older Santa Rosa Press Democrat stories can't be linked to directly, but they are available  online without charge by using Press Democrat's advanced archive search and specifying the year and headline. Also, the following comprehensive search link works as of 9/7/04, and finds all archived PD stories about our case:
Press Democrat Archive search for "pepper spray" and Humboldt, all years, sorted newest first. An archive search will not find the latest stories that are not yet in the archive until they are about two weeks old.

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