Police use pepper spray on Utah haka
Mon, 24 Oct 2011 11:37a.m.
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Police in a small Utah town are being accused of overreacting after using pepper spray to break up a group of Polynesian men and boys performing a haka after a high school football game.
The police action came after a pair of officers unsuccessfully attempted to disperse the dozen or so performers who were blocking an exit after the Union-Uintah game on Thursday night (local time), the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune reported.
The group in Roosevelt, a town of 8000, had travelled more than 150 kilometres east from the Salt Lake City area to watch a relative play his final game for Union, which lost to rival Uintah and finished the season without a victory.
The group reportedly was trying to boost Union's morale with the haka as the players left the field.
Spectators, coaches and players told police that everything was fine and they should let the men perform, Jessica Rasmussen said, but officers asked them to make room and started using pepper spray.
Rasmussen said she and other bystanders also got spray in their eyes, ears and mouths.
Union fan Jason Kelly said the way police reacted was an embarrassment to the community of Roosevelt.
"I've never seen anything like it," Kelly said. "It was totally unprovoked."
Police said the incident is under investigation, and anyone wanting to lodge a complaint should contact the department.
Police said many people in the crowd knew the group was going to dance, but the two officers and others didn't.
Spectator Shawn Mitchell said while he didn't view the dancers as a threat, the impromptu performance might have played a role in how police responded.
"If they're going to do something like (the Haka), maybe some planning could be done ahead of time," he said.
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16/12/2012 6:39:37 p.m.
wat happened to officers michelle murray zuniga
26/10/2011 4:22:43 a.m.
Poor Haka Boys,,Pepper Sprayed by 2 Utah cops,well ya not in New Zealand Guys,youre on there turf,they told ya to move and you refused.Ben youre a clown.ya comments about US COPS are so Dumb and Stupid,you obviously have Nil idea of american society,and what these Cops have to deal with.............
25/10/2011 11:56:59 a.m.
God bless American freedom! the freedom that has incarcerated over 50% of their population. Freedom that allows American police to act with impunity. God bless the rich American, because he shall not inherit the earth, but take it using either force or economics and leave whatever is left to the rest of us. American police (I have some familiarity as Cops is played here everyday) are the most over-reacting mob of cowboys. I suppose even me writing this is deemed a terrorist act as how could anyone have a problem with "freedom". American's like to think they are the world's best, I agree, the world's greatest ignoramus's.
24/10/2011 9:50:26 p.m.
Yeah, don't do anything random in America, cops will be thinking your inciting terrorism. Country of the free? Nek Minit
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