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    Portland or Seattle: who has the better Occupy photo?

    The rivalry takes a new turn: whose pepper spray stings the most cruelly?

    In the annals of Portland vs. Seattle comparisons, credit Occupy for creating a new battleground, inadvertently. Photos from police pepper spraying of demonstrators in both cities have gone viral.

    A photo by Seattlepi.com's Josh Trujillo caught world attention first. It pictures 84-year-old demonstrator (and avid supporter of Mayor Mike McGinn) Tuesday in the seconds after she was hit with pepper spray in downtown Seattle. It's a genuinely mind-boggling shot that started popping up on Facebook almost immediately.

    Now comes The Oregonian, reporting that one of its photos has gone viral and quoting a former chief blogger for the Obama campaign as tweeting, "Should win a Pulitzer." A New York Times writer asked if the photo had been Photoshopped. The paper practically harumphed in indignation: "The Oregonian does not digitally alter images."

    The photo by Randy L. Rasmussen is also amazing, capturing the instant at which a woman demonstrator with her mouth open, possibly in shock, gets hit with a clear shot of pepper spray. The Oregonian credited Brooke Jarvis of Bainbridge Island-based YES! Magazine with starting the Portland photo toward going viral. Jarvis said this morning, "They are both very powerful photos. I think probably the one from Portland, to me, is more iconic because of the actual moment."

    Update: An Oregonian story reports that the Portland protester, 20-year-old Liz Nichols, says that, at the moment of the spraying, she was yelling at officers that she was being mistreated.

    Joe Copeland is political editor for Crosscut. You can reach him at Joe.Copeland@crosscut.com.

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