The Supreme Court refused today to block a lawsuit against the Humboldt County Sheriff´s Department for ordering the use of pepper spray on shackled anti-logging protesters.
The case focuses on nine people arrested during sit-ins at Pacific Lumber headquarters and former Republican Representative Frank Riggs´ office. They were protesting the cutting of ancient redwood trees.
The demonstrators were chained together. When they refused to leave, officers swabbed pepper spray near their eyes. Others were sprayed in the face at close range.
Attorneys for Humboldt County Sheriff Dennis Lewis and Chief Deputy Gary Philp argued the lawmen consulted with legal experts and the protesters were not injured.
Videotapes show demonstrators screaming after the spray was applied.
Mark Hughes is the protesters´ attorney. He says no other American police force had a policy of swabbing pepper spray to the eyes of people who resist arrest.