They are pretty much the perfect 'nonlethal' crowd control 'weapon'. The horses they had out on Lansdowne street that night were(seemed) bigger than a fairly large pickup truck. They were at least 6 or 7 feet high(depending on how you measure) with a hell of a lot of girth. They're not going to move for very much. When you consider the officer's additional 3 or so feet of height on top of the horse, they're pretty-fucking-intimidating, regardless of your background.
Point is, instead of a crowd of people having control over who goes where, the horses do. It keeps some sense of societal order in effect, up to the point where even a drunken out-of-control rioter (ie, a criminal -- and this is not quite inclusive of the people who were out that night) would have to really talk himself into any kind of riotous activity when there's an animal that fucking big right there.
The only inappropriateness I see is the potential for harm if the horse gets spooked, but they are trained to be able to handle situations like that, and the officers riding them are trained to recognize such things as their horse starting to get frightened. Mix in communication and some legitimate police actions(stopping the cause of the horse's scare) or, say, leaving the scene and being replaced with more manpower, and the potential for a horse getting out of control is not very high.
The person who threw the bottle should have been arrested immediately. Scaring a horse like that, in a crowd like that, would likely lead to more deaths than whatever the police could do, short of using live ammo. Unfortunately, the cops were lazy and took the easy way out -- instead of calling for some sort of backup, like one of the hundreds of baton-wielding officers on foot to arrest the man(which could potentially make the situation that much worse..), one of the officers was tempted to use the force in his control and fired the pepperball shots into the crowd. dumb dumb dumb.
I guess it makes sense, in that sometimes the best way to gain control over a situation is to exert overwhelming force, so as to intimidate whoever you're trying to control into submitting. It would've been a justifiable decision on the officer's part had the crowd been actually, you know, rioting. What was going on at the time was nothing like a riot, and the police at the scene should have recognized it for what it was and taken the appropriate action. Instead, they escalated the 'riotous' nature of the scene by throwing down the first boy(who proceeded to yell obscenities and ask for the guy's badge number) for refusing to disperse, and once the officers take that step into physical force, they feel like they can't let the crowd justify any potential criminal actions because of police missteps -- ie, the police can't admit they're wrong, so when a boy is unjustifiably pushed by an officer, they will, at best, ignore what happened and focus on keeping the crowd under control.
The boy who was pushed wasn't helping, either, by continuing the situation in yelling at the cop. I mean, it's one thing to be shoved by a cop in the middle of a weekday, but when you're in a situation which could very quickly escalate into anarchy, then, umm, just fucking deal with it. Nothing good is going to come out of you yelling at a cop in the middle of a huge group of people, regardless of how right you may be. Something like that gives other people around you(generally drunk and far enough away to be safe) bright ideas like, hey, let's throw my beer bottle at the horsey! What then followed was a number of bad decisions by the officers involved in not recognizing the situation for what it was(it was definitely not riotous -- arguably in other places it was, but definitely not there) and vastly overreacted.
IF it were a riot, IF their horses were about to start behaving erratically, IF there had been more people involved(instead of the first boy and whoever threw the bottle), IF IF IF.. then MAYBE the officers actions were justified. Unfortunately for that poor Emerson girl, none of those IFs were true.
To sum it up: police aggrandize their righteousness, police use a show of force, police overreact, police abuse the power at their control.. check. I don't think any of that is not to be expected. Which is why it should be so god-fucking-damn obvious that, instead of giving policemen MORE power at their disposal, they should be limited to what is reasonable for the situation. Those pepper riot guns might be a good idea if there's a huge mob of people burning down buildings or something, but to equip officers with them when there is nothing going on is just asking for trouble.
anyway. Point is, riot horses and batons are a good idea, because they do what is needed effectively, and people aren't often accidentally beaten to death with a baton. Firing projectiles(especially with a chemical payload) is more than begging for trouble because of all the inaccuracies and variables involved. For that, I say fuck the BPD for having them there.
if anyone wants to see exactly how fucked-up of a situation it was, try looking for the front page of the Friday morning Boston Herald. There was a full-page image of the girl knocked out on the sidewalk, eye oozing blood, dying!, while people peacably mill about around her, including a cop or two.
you know, jake.. i've noticed that, since the tacos started coming, the mail doesn't so much come as often, or even at all
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