In recent days pepper spray has become almost synonymous with the Occupy movement.
Most recently this photo, which is quickly becoming an iconic image from the movement, has gone viral. It shows Occupy Portland protester Elizabeth Nichols getting hit directly in the face with pepper spray by Portland police. The shot was taken by Randy L. Rasmussen, a photographer for the Oregonian, during Thursday’s protests.
The picture itself has been called a lot of things, but intriguingly enough, the most accurate description of how it was taken is that it was an accident. Ramussen explained in an interview with the Oregonian that he didn’t even know he had captured the scene until he saw it appear on a computer screen when he returned to the office.
But Elizabeth Nichols, the woman being hit in the face with the spray, certainly knew what happened (though she didn’t know it had been captured on film). Nichols won’t soon forget the incident, regardless of the photo.
From the Oregonian:
Nichols said a policewoman jabbed her in the ribs with a baton and pressed it against her throat. That made her angry.
She yelled at the officer, saying she was being mistreated. That’s when another officer shot her with pepper spray. A photo by The Oregonian’s Randy L. Rasmussen, which flashed across social media websites, shows Nichols was sprayed from a few feet away.
“It felt like my face, ears and hands were on fire,” she said.
This new shot comes just days after a photo of 84-year-old Dorli Rainey went viral, after she was pepper sprayed in the face during Occupy Seattle protests. The use of the spray has become almost commonplace during recent protests, and the method has been prominent during controversial protests in New York and Oakland.