Don't say it, spray it
January 17, 2008 3:54 AM   Subscribe

Did the Victorian police overreact in spraying capsicum spray into spectators at the Australian open tennis on Tuesday night? The officers say they were protecting themselves, it seems not all agree and legal action might ensue. Is the Australian Open (or any international sporting contest in Australia) still a family friendly environment?
posted by mattoxic (44 comments total)
When will the reign of the tennis hooligans end?
posted by billysumday at 4:22 AM on January 17, 2008 [2 favorites]

I say, more pepper spray at tennis events! And if I were President, I'd double Guantanamo!
posted by billysumday at 4:24 AM on January 17, 2008

Capsicum spray? Meh. The Victorian police normally shoot people, don't they? A spray of capsicum is like a slap on the wrist warning to them.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:25 AM on January 17, 2008

I really liked the fact that the police, not Greek speakers couldn't actually understand what was being chanted. It sounded offensive though, all foreign and such.
posted by mattoxic at 4:37 AM on January 17, 2008

Edwardian police would never be so vulgar. Perhaps this is a sign that time traveling cops are a bad idea.
posted by stavrogin at 4:48 AM on January 17, 2008 [22 favorites]

They need Tasers
posted by notreally at 4:52 AM on January 17, 2008

They need truncheons.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:40 AM on January 17, 2008

If I've learned nothing else from the internet, it's that anyone the police target with pepper spray, tasers, or boots had it coming.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:42 AM on January 17, 2008

Speaking of "family-friendly":

Witnesses say that the St. John's Ambulance were treating children as young as five or six years of age, contradicting a statement made by Superintendent John Cooke and published on "...that women and children, who were not part of the Greek group of fans, were affected by the capsicum spray were untrue."

The Greek site has interesting quotes from spectators:

Greek sports fan Arthur Ioannou of Blackburn North, also described the police force as excessive. "The way the police handled the situation was a joke. Instead of speaking calmly to the fans, one of the police officers came in pointing fingers and acting arrogant and rude. He started the whole situation. Then they brought the rest of the police squad, and one of the police women got caught in the middle. She panicked and sprayed people in the face.

"There was no problem with racism between Greek and the Chileans. This was a problem between a police officer and a spectator", Ioannou said.

Chris Vlahogiannis, of the Hellas Fan Club told Neos Kosmos yesterday, "I have never seen anything like yesterday. A lot of people were affected by the spray. They came in without warning. They didn't tell us what we had done. We did nothing wrong. We were picked on unfairly".

...Kostandinos Economides, who was playing for the first time in the main draw of the Australian Open told Neos Kosmos following the match, "It was very strange and I am really sad about it. It is something that no one wants. Before it happened, there was a great atmosphere. It was completely sudden, and to me it seemed like the police jumped in and created the trouble".

Speaking after the match Fernando Gonazalez evidently found no problem with the Greek chanting, saying, "They're fans. It was very noisy, but the Chileans were also noisy. It was fun."

posted by mediareport at 6:08 AM on January 17, 2008

It's simple - to make stuff family friendly you have a drinking stand and a non-drinking stand. Seems to work at the cricket.
posted by fatfrank at 6:09 AM on January 17, 2008

The Greek fans were apparently swearing in their songs. In Greek.

Of COURSE they needed to be temporarily blinded! What other possible response could there be? Especially after the Greek player has said "There was a great atmosphere before the incident".

I mean. How on earth can that go unpunished?

Until people show some proper damn decorum and sit on their hands at tennis matches quietly, this sort of thing needs to be stamped out. Elevate it to tazers for anyone clapping is the clear, logical, next step.
posted by Brockles at 6:12 AM on January 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

I hate tennis too, but even I admit that's a bit over the top.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:16 AM on January 17, 2008

They should have used fresh-ground pepper spray. If you keep spraying people with plain old capsicum they may not want to come back.
posted by Floydd at 6:34 AM on January 17, 2008 [3 favorites]

from the "(or any....)" link

"monkey-suited mischief-makers "

ok, then, being unable to picture that, I'm no longer able to comment on this thread...
posted by HuronBob at 6:41 AM on January 17, 2008

1) Yes
2) I Disagree
3) I don't know, but I'd like to visit and see
posted by Nick Verstayne at 7:40 AM on January 17, 2008

Interesting to see this happening in Australia, too.

Here in the US, city cops have become so hysterically terrified of the citizenry (unlike firefighters, whose jobs are about an order of magnitude more dangerous) that when they show up, your first priority has to be calming them down and reassuring them that they are in no danger, or God knows what will happen.
posted by jamjam at 8:32 AM on January 17, 2008 [9 favorites]

They still haven't caught Jack the Ripper.
posted by Artw at 8:37 AM on January 17, 2008

Can't they afford tasers in Australia?
posted by rusty at 8:40 AM on January 17, 2008

jamjam- police are very heavy-handed in australia. the phrase "police state" is often heard there.

Police take drug sniffing dogs with them on the street and will search you if the dog reacts.
posted by bhnyc at 9:01 AM on January 17, 2008

Video. Decide for yourself. NSFW captions.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:09 AM on January 17, 2008

the phrase "police state" is often heard there

..and we all ride Fosters drinking kangaroos to the shops, I shit you not.
posted by peacay at 9:18 AM on January 17, 2008 [3 favorites]

I don't believe you could drink a kangaroo. Is that some sort of idiomatic thing? Of course Australian police are heavy-handed; how else to get someone's attention?
posted by yerfatma at 9:19 AM on January 17, 2008

Video . Decide for yourself.

Wow, that's a pretty damning indictment of the police officers involved. There's no physical altercation and the second officer is smiling after the pepper spray attack. WTF.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:30 AM on January 17, 2008

Peacay, it is a sign of the squalid state of the Australian soul that you would require a Kangaroo to drink Fosters. Hell, the police should have sprayed the crowd with Fosters, that's way more punitive than capsicum.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:01 AM on January 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Video . Decide for yourself.

Watch it! Wow. At the start of the video the "police women" is clearly not "caught in the middle" and "panicked." She reaches over the other officer, aims and fires, turns around and walks up the steps. Clearly no provocation warranting the spraying.
posted by ericb at 10:16 AM on January 17, 2008

*police woman*
posted by ericb at 10:24 AM on January 17, 2008

My visit to the Open in '97 was marvelous BECAUSE the fans get so behind their countrymen players. Guys with flags painted on their faces, chanting and singing and just having a helluva good time. I talked to some Swedes who told me their country actually gave them a stipend to go down to OZ and cheer on their countrymen. How cool is that?

It would greatly diminish the fun of the Open if this atmosphere was changed.
posted by bigskyguy at 10:31 AM on January 17, 2008

Victoria Police officers always say they're protecting themselves. As Ubu said: it's a wonder no-one was shot.
posted by pompomtom at 1:09 PM on January 17, 2008

The Greek fans were apparently swearing in their songs.

Swearing! In Australia? No bloody way!
posted by asok at 1:43 PM on January 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

"monkey-suited mischief-makers "

I've warned you all time and again, when you see a bunch of rowdy people in tuxedos, mayhem can't be far behind. Taze, pepper-spray, do whatever you need to do to get them on the ground, or before you know it, they will be hurling hors d'oeuvres and chianti. And then you are uppercase Fucked.
posted by quin at 2:19 PM on January 17, 2008

Nice soundtrack on that video.
posted by Jimbob at 2:52 PM on January 17, 2008

Yes, they overreacted. They always overreact. After all, this is the Victorian Police we're talking about here. They're as close to an occupying force as Australia has ever gotten.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:40 PM on January 17, 2008

the phrase "police state" is often heard there

Very true. It's not so bad now that everybody has a cellphone, though. If you're holding an illegal bbq, for example, you just slip notes under the doors of your neighbours for about six blocks in each direction, letting them know your phone number & the date of the bbq. If the coppers are seen heading in your direction, your neigbours alert you by sms, you quickly empty your bucket of wet sand onto the barbie (or throw it into the pool if you have one), turn off the cricket & hide in your outdoor dunny until the cops pass.

Unfortunately, the unofficial rule is that each of the notes is considered to be an invitation to the barbie, so if the weather's fine the entire neighbourhood might show up at your place. On the bright side, everybody has to bring their own beer & meat, and there are always leftovers at the end of the day.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:33 PM on January 17, 2008

Eh? Bring your own beers but the host supplies the meat. The payment is all the leftover beer at the end of the day. People trying to slide in with a sixpack of VB and then pinch the Coopers out of the Esky will be Booted.
posted by markr at 5:36 PM on January 17, 2008

What is an illegal bbq?
posted by Jumpin Jack Flash at 5:36 PM on January 17, 2008

Any bbq at which more than four people are present. The anti-communism laws have never been repealed, and any public gatherings of more than four people have to be registered & approved by the police first.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:27 PM on January 17, 2008

UbuRovias, don't be cruel, seppos don't understand sarcasm.

I should also alert you that I've informed my local Civilian Order and Control Committee of your activities here.
posted by Jimbob at 7:30 PM on January 17, 2008

I would like to state for the benefit of the COCC that all references to the planning & conduct of illegal bbqs were based solely on what I have heard from other people whose names I forget, because I only briefly met them once, at a registered State pub. All of my bbqs have been properly authorised by the authorities.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:47 PM on January 17, 2008

Too late Ubu, they've probably already taken your parents into custody.
posted by Jimbob at 8:04 PM on January 17, 2008

Holy shit, I hope not! Their house is full of illegal contraband!

There's a Big Banana souvenir fridge magnet & a Dame Edna christmas album from before the cultural revolution, a cookbook not endorsed by the Commissar for Human Nutrition, Neil Perry, and an old history text about the multicultural experience, with separate chapters devoted to different perspectives on the historical 'texts': feminist, aboriginal, post-colonial...the whole works.

The savoury-meatloaf-with-egg-in-the-middle recipe in the cookbook could earn them twenty to life just on its own, even if they somehow fail to see the pineapple, Coon & corn mayonnaise salad one, torn out of an old Woman's Weekly we found under the house (we burned the rest of the magazine, but just couldn't bear to part with the salad recipe...)
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:39 PM on January 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Nobody expects the Australian inquisition.
posted by Dr. Curare at 10:19 PM on January 17, 2008

D_W: Everything here runs on beeriofuel, including the bathing and transport systems. And the capsicum spray marketing ploy was genius n'est-ce pas?
posted by peacay at 2:22 AM on January 18, 2008

Don't worry, you poor Ozies. I hear you can get asylum in Germany.
posted by Goofyy at 2:46 AM on January 18, 2008

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