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Pepper Spray

May 14, 2000

* Re "Ruling Could Limit Police Use of Pepper Spray," May 5: Imagine what would happen if police in a foreign country swabbed pepper spray into the eyes of peaceful protesters, refused them water to ease their pain and then sprayed them in the face at close range. We would call these actions by their rightful name, torture. We would, justifiably, accuse that country of human rights violations.

Why, then, do American protesters subjected to the same torture have to rely on a civil rights suit to seek justice? The local government in Humboldt County should immediately have disciplined the sheriff's deputies involved. When that did not happen, our government itself should have charged them with civil rights violations.

It can hardly be called adequate justice in the face of such inhumanity, but thank you, Judges Harry Pregerson, William Fletcher and Myron Bright, for at least acknowledging that torture is not a "minimal" intrusion on people's "personal integrity."

KAY MIRANDA GILBERT

Santa Monica

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