Gallery: Pepper-Spray Cop Squirts Internet in the Eye
Clever Photoshop artists have turned the image of a police officer pepper-spraying Occupy Wall Street protesters into a fast-spreading internet meme.
Soon after Lt. John Pike was videotaped and photographed pepper-spraying protesters Friday on the University of California at Davis campus, the video of the confrontation went viral and a photo of the incident went up on reddit.
That photo, by Louise Macabitas, sparked a slew of Photoshop spoofs showing Lt. Pike pepper-spraying everyone from Keyboard Cat to God. The artworks incorporate the officer into historical works of art likePablo Picasso’s Guernica and already-established internet memes like “Look at All the Fucks I Give.” And not too long after the images began circulating, Tumblrs to collect them were born.
“The imagery of the pepper-spraying cop somehow managed to top the chilling photo of pepper-sprayed 84-year-old Dorli Rainey from last week,” said Brady Hall, the 34-year-old filmmaker behind thePepper Spraying Cop Tumblr, in an e-mail to Wired.com. “And unlike that photo, ‘pepper spraying cop’ was just brimming with opportunity for humor.”
Hall said the pictures “also help highlight just why the images of this guy hosing peaceful park-sitters in the face with pepper spray is so wrong and representative of the baffling (but unsurprising) stance police are taking with the [Occupy Wall Street] protesters.”
The similar imagery of cops pepper-spraying participants at various Occupy Wall Street protests is what makes them easy to meme, said Ben Huh, CEO of Cheezburger Network. Some of the images take on aBanksy-esque quality because the act of pepper-spraying can look like spray-painting, making Pepper Spray Cop easy to incorporate into other photographs or art works.
“I think this started with Occupy Wall Street with the women who were penned in that got pepper-sprayed by that cop, so now everyone’s looking for pepper spray,” Huh told Wired.com. “They may not be consciously looking for it, but subconsciously when they see it they go, ‘A-ha! There’s another one.’ It’s bringing to light the problems that occur when police overuse pepper spray.”
Check out some of the best images from the meme in the gallery above, then hit the comments to let us know if you find any other cool versions of the Pepper Spray Cop photo.