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Lt. John Pike is shown using pepper spray on Occupy UC Davis protesters at the University of California, Davis on Friday, Nov. 18, 2011. (Wayne Tilcock/Associated Press/Wayne Tilcock/Associated Press)
Lt. John Pike is shown using pepper spray on Occupy UC Davis protesters at the University of California, Davis on Friday, Nov. 18, 2011. (Wayne Tilcock/Associated Press/Wayne Tilcock/Associated Press)

Pepper-spray cop send-ups: good fun or bad taste? Add to ...

He’s the man who launched a thousand memes.

Davis, Calif., police lieutenant John Pike, who was caught pepper-spraying the faces of seemingly peaceful protesters during an Occupy University of California Davis showdown last Friday, is now the subject of dozens of crudely Photoshopped images gone viral under the name Pepper Spraying Cop.

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Images of Lt. Pike aiming the spray at protesters horrified people around the world upon their circulation. His casual, almost blasé demeanour garnered an outpouring of anger. And then, in the spirit of turning lemons into lemonade, some turned that anger into humour.

In the Pepper Spraying Cop memes, Lt. Pike is seen pepper spraying a variety of subjects: John Lennon and Yoko Ono during their bed-in for peace; Star Wars’ Hans Solo; the cast of Fraggle Rock; Snoopy; and the figure in Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream. The images have been collected on an aptly-named Tumblr account, peppersprayingcop.tumblr.com .

Lt. Pike’s infamy doesn’t end with the memes. Twitter users can follow @PepperSprayCop for random, pepper spray-centric thoughts (example: “Febreeze goes against everything I believe in.”). For those seeking unconventional life advice, Pepper Spraying Cop has also taken on an advice columnist persona online. The columnist’s solution for all problems? Pepper-spraying the offending individual until their eyes bleed. Harsh.

“Pepper Spraying Cop” isn’t the first Occupy-inspired parody. Cuddly pets join the Occupy Wall Street movement at awwccupywallstreet.tumblr.com . Visit Occupytheurl.com, enter a website address, and watch protesters paper over the page. Fictional locales are also being occupied, with memes such as Occupy Mordor and Occupy Sesame Street.

For the protesters who were at the receiving end of Lt. Pike’s spray, it’s hard to see the humour. In an interview, one of the students reported intense vomiting and said another victim suffered nerve damage. University officials say 11 students were hit with the spray, including two who were treated at hospital and later released.

Do the memes offer a bit of comic relief or are they inappropriate?

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