Court Ruling in Pepper Spray Case Sets Legal Precedent for Use of Chemical Agents Against Protesters

May 08, 2000

Last week the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco issued a decision in favor of protesters who are suing Humboldt County Law Enforcement Officials for "excessive force." The lawsuit stems from a 1997 protest over the Headwaters Deal in which police sprayed and swabbed pepper spray directly into the eyes of non-violent protesters. The activists were part of the "Headwaters Forest Defense" and were protesting an agreement between Pacific Lumber and the Federal Government. The deal allowed the timber giant to increase logging of old-growth redwoods in exchange for the government’s $500 million purchase of 7,500 acres of forest.


  • Terry Compost, one of the activists with "Headwaters Forest Defense" and a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
  • Spring Lundberg, of "Headwaters Forest Defense" and a plaintiff in the suit.