'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Perp Walk of UC Davis Chancellor Katehi 

UPDATE 3: I received a very interesting e-mail this afternoon, with more background about this protest. Apparently, the students had the building surrounded during the press conference, and, after it was prematurely terminated, Katehi was fearful. Amazingly, a campus minister had to negotiate her departure. Students assured her that Katehi could exit without concern for safety, but they were insistent that Katehi face them. They were not going to allow to her leave without subjecting her to a withering public embarrassment. The account answers a couple of curious aspects of the protest. First, it explains how the students were able to position themselves along the route to Katehi's SUV. They were able to do it, because they dictated the route of her exit. Second, as Katehi walks along the line of students, someone asks her, are you still afraid of the students? One might initially believe that the question was prompted by the university's claim that the officers had to resort to the use of pepper spray to escape from a dangerous situation. But, instead, Katehi's fear of the noisy student protesters outside the media center provoked it.

UPDATE 2: I talked with one of my friends in Davis and obtained a little more information about this protest. Upon learning of Katehi's press conference, students went to the media center and disrupted it from outside with noisy chants, requiring her to cut it off early. She then, as noted by the Bee, waited inside the center for more than two hours in the forlorn expectation that she might be able to leave without confronting them.

UPDATE 1: The original YouTube video of the pepper spray incident posted here early Friday evening has been accessed over 745,000 times, with in excess of 15,000 comments. The one that I subsequently posted has been accessed over 55,000 times.


As reported by the Sacramento Bee, Katehi walked through the silent student gauntlet after waiting for two hours in a media room in the misguided hope that she could avoid the assembled students:

After an afternoon press conference, Katehi said she had no intention of resigning and holed up in a media room for more than two hours while hundreds of students gathered outside, some carrying signs calling for her to resign.

At 6:50 p.m. Katehi left the building, walking to an awaiting SUV through lines of students that stretched two to three blocks. There was no exchange of words between her and the students, and the scene got very quiet as she passed.

Upon her departure, the students celebrated:

One gets the impression that the protest was spontaneous, one spread almost entirely by word of mouth through social media. Someone on campus encountered the media presence, asked what was up, and upon learning that Katehi was going to have a press conference, spread the word. It is possible that someone inside the campus administration leaked the information. In any event, the protest was an extraordinary achievement, an inversion of the power relations of the campus, as Katehi slowly walked helplessly passed along a seemingly endless of line of students, with many of them videotaping her humiliation for posterity. Every step along the way must have been agonizing. But there is no question that she deserved it. She initially defended the actions of the UC Davis Police Department without reservation, and only changed course after an explosion of public outrage. Hopefully, she'll be gone in the next few days.

Labels: , , , , ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?