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UC Davis pepper-spraying cop finds his way into artistic masterpieces

November 21, 2011 |  5:15 pm


Lt. John Pike, the policeman at UC Davis who was shown Friday pepper spraying peaceful protesters, has become an unlikely rallying figure for the Occupy movement. Outrage at his actions has galvanized activists and led to a shakeup at the university's police department.

In the days since the incident, an art-themed Internet meme has developed involving Pike. As reported by the Washington Post, Wired and other publications, various artists have digitally incorporated images of Pike wielding a pepper-spray can into a series of famous paintings, including Picasso's "Guernica,"  Manet's "Le déjeuner sur l'herbe" and Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel.

You can view some of the humorous images on the site  Pepper Spraying Cop on Tumblr. One image incorporates the cop into Salvador Dali's "The Persistence of Memory," with the pepper spray surrealistically ricocheting into the cop's face.  Another image, shown above, shows the cop spraying Jesus in Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper."

The meme is part of a larger online trend in which images of Pike have been digitally added to famous photographs and movie stills.

On Monday, hundreds of people gathered at UC Davis to protest Friday's incident. The controversy has resulted in two campus police officers and UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza being placed on leave.


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— David Ng

Image from Pepper Spraying Cop on Tumblr.