UC Davis pepper-spraying becomes Internet joke

DAVIS, Calif.

Using Photoshop and a little creativity, people have created images of UC Davis Police Lt. John Pike pepper-spraying everyone from Papa Smurf to Super Mario. He can be seen spraying the Statue of Liberty -- even being the Statue of Liberty.

No one person can create a phenomenon like this, says Cnet editor at large Rafe Needleman, it just sort of happens.

"You see something that you think is funny and then you say, 'Hey that's funny,' you pass it on to your friend and it becomes a meme," Needleman

Pike has shown up at knighthood ceremonies, Sesame Street, and on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. He's pepper sprayed Snoopy, Forrest Gump, Han Solo, and President John F. Kennedy. He's sprayed other presidents atop Mount Rushmore, but it's not all politics. Jesus got sprayed twice -- once as a baby -- and again at the Last Supper.

"It's such a sort of horrific thing that this cop is doing, spraying these people at point blank range, but he has such a, he looks like he's watering his garden," Reddit General Manager Erik Martin said. "I don't know, I think this one may have staying power. I mean it was such a powerful event and around something powerful like the Occupy Wall Street movement."

But the timely message has infiltrated timeless images from French impressionism. Pike has even sprayed Whistler's Mother in the face.

He has both a men's cologne and a ladies' perfume. He's on the cover of a Pink Floyd album and he met John Lennon, just before pepper spraying his wife.

But USC professor Karen North says it's spread the protesters' message to a lot more people.

"Who honestly didn't really care about, didn't care about what's going on in Davis until they saw the pictures of the Bill of Rights or the Constitution being pepper-sprayed," she said.

Copyright © 2024 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.