Cops pepper spray dancers at football game

October 24, 2011 by staff 

Cops pepper spray dancers at football gameCops pepper spray dancers at football game, Police in a small town in Utah is accused of overreacting after using pepper spray to disperse a group of Polynesian men and children performing a traditional dance called the Haka after a football game high school.

The police action came after a couple of agents tried unsuccessfully to disperse the dozen artists who were blocking the exit after the Union, Uintah game Thursday night, the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune.

One form of the Haka has been popularized by players of rugby in New Zealand who sing, beat their chests and aggressive gesture before games. Maori tradition may also include fierce facial expressions. Haka is now performed in the football and rugby around the world.

The group at the Roosevelt, a town in 8000, had traveled about 125 miles east of Salt Lake City area to see a family playing his last game of the Union, which lost to his rival Uintah and finished the season without a victory.

The group allegedly was trying to raise the morale of the Union with the Haka that the players left the field.

Spectators, coaches and players told police everything was fine and should let the men do, Jessica Rasmussen said, but officers asked them to do the room and began to use pepper spray.

Rasmussen said she and other bystanders also spray in their eyes, ears and mouth.

Union fan Jason Kelly said police reacted and was an embarrassment to the community of Roosevelt.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Kelly. “It was caused entirely.”

A grainy video has been viewed more than a million times on YouTube shows a police officer approached the group, forcing again. A voice is heard asking, “Are you okay?”

Police said the incident is under investigation, and anyone who wishes to file a complaint should contact the department.

Police said many people in the crowd knew that the group would dance, but the two officers and others not.

Viewer Shawn Mitchell said that although he did not see the dancers as a threat, improvised performance might have played a role in how the police responded.

“If they do something like (the Haka), maybe a little planning can be done ahead of time,” he said.

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