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

Friday, November 18, 2011

Police Pepper Spray Occupation at UC Davis 

UPDATE 5: From the Sacramento Bee:

Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi said she would address the campus on Monday.

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.

Please go, please go now.

UPDATE 4: Don't Shoot Students! Don't Shoot Students . . . Close Your Eyes! Protect Your Eyes! Protect Yourself! Another YouTube video of the incident:

UPDATE 3: Just got off the phone with someone from the UC Davis police department after providing contact information earlier this morning for a criminal complaint, which will, of course, be disregarded. Having attended the university, I expressed my outrage as calmly as possible. I got a sense that the officer taking my call wasn't too pleased what happened, either, as we were both familiar with past UC Davis acceptance of occupations, such as the one during the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s. Poor guy. He's spending all morning responding to belligerent calls, and said that I was one of the most polite people that he's spoken with. It is contemptible that the Chancellor Katehi and the UC Davis Chief of Police Spicuzza put their employees in this position, just another indication of how little people like the Chancellor and the Chief care about the 99%.

UPDATE 2: Loyal American Leftist readers will remember this post from April concerning the UC Davis Student Activism Team. Here's an excerpt from a California Aggie article about it:

The team provides a presence at campus actions, accompanies students as they move, monitors the situation and updates a team coordinator until the action ends, according to a document dated Nov. 1, 2010 detailing the team’s protocol. The team is not to stop student activism, stop police response, speak on behalf of the administration or make decisions about campus response. Documents also reveal correspondences between team members and the police about planned protests and unfolding campus action.

Of course, the purported purpose of the team is public safety, including the safety of protesters, But, as graduate student Eric Lee presciently observed when the existence of the team was revealed: . . [a] police presence only creates the opportunity for violence . . . the only time time protesters have been injured on campus was at the hands of police officers. One wonders, what was the team doing yesterday? Inquiring minds would like to know.

UPDATE 1: For additional video of the incident, go here. Amazingly, UC Davis is defending the actions of the officers by saying that they feared for their safety. Curiously, they didn't look very frightened as UC Davis police lieutenant John Pike calmly sprayed the students again and again. Indeed, Pike's spraying of the students actually inflamed the situation.


I arrived at UC Davis at 4:45pm shortly after today this afternoon for my public affairs program on KDVS 90.3 FM at 5. At that time, there were a couple of fire engines on the far side of the Quad, where a crowd of about 100 people had gathered, to provide medical assistance to the victims if necessary. Upon entering the station, I encountered a KDVS reporter who told me and a friend what had happened. We went on the air at 5, and she described the background of the UC Davis occupation and this pepper spray assault.

I just encountered this YouTube video of the incident online a few minutes ago, and decided to post it here. As I watched it, I was, in addition to the shockingly cavalier attitude of the officer who sprayed the students, surprised to see the officers become increasingly uncomfortable in their new role as riot cops as the crowd became angrier and angrier after the students were sprayed. UC Davis cops don't have experience with intimidating methods of crowd control like urban ones. They draw in closer and closer together, hunching down as they make their departure to hostile chants of you can go! you can go! Beyond this, It is important to recognize that, if they will do this at UC Davis, they will do it anywhere. Normally, campus authorities would have taken a mellow, understated approach to this situation. But, given the national importance of the movement, that's not possible anymore. Significantly, the video went up online within a couple of hours of the assault.

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