Ever since UC Davis Police Lt. John Pike blatantly pepper sprayed a group of sitting protesters, his image has turned into an internet meme, Photoshopped into everything from John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence to Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper.
My favorite shows Pike as a helium-filled balloon at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
However, a man who identifies himself as a Philadelphia police officer has also gotten into the act and is now receiving all kinds of criticism for it.
Mike Sidebotham posted the now-famous image on his Facebook page with the caption, “Don’t mind me, just watering my hippies.”
And now the Philadelphia Weekly is describing his posts as “menacing.”
Sidebotham claims he has a weird sense of humor and is only exercising his right to free speech.
Sidebotham, whose profile indicates that he graduated Archbishop Ryan High School in 2003, defended himself even further: “Its a picture what am I inciting? Whats it matter what my profession is? Did I do it? No. No where did I promote what happened, I just find the caption funny. People are trying to say because of my profession I cant disagree with what you guys are doing? I never laid a hand on a single one of you guys have i? Nope, so I am exercising my freedom of speech. I think I have earned the right to do so.”
I agree with Sidebotham on this one.
Sidebotham ended up removing the pepper spraying picture, but the Philadelphia Weekly searched through his Facebook page and found other posts where he mocks the Occupy movement.
I really don’t see anything “menacing” about any of it. Nothing more than your typical Facebook poster (but I also tend to draw Facebook friends with extreme views and warped sense of humors, many which will shock the average person).
It probably wasn’t very professional to post those things, but I would rather judge him by how he treats people in real life than by what he posts on Facebook.
And we’ll probably have a chance to see him in action today at 5 p.m. as police attempt to remove Occupy Philadelphia activists from their encampment.