Bernie Goldsmith of Occupy UC Davis discusses the history of activist movements and public opinion, and issues a warning.
We look into the past at successful social justice movements and idealize them. Of course the civil rights movement was right. Of course women should have the right to vote. Of course abolitionists would prevail. We take these things for granted; who could ever have disagreed with these sentiments? We forget that these movements had an uphill battle for a reason, that, in their time, their heroes were condemned as radicals, thugs, troublemakers, dirty bums, agitators, and more, just as protesters of today are condemned.
In the wake of violence on UC campuses, Gov. Jerry Brown today asked a statewide law enforcement commission to review guidelines for crowd control and “without delay” make “whatever changes are necessary to ensure compliance with First and Fourth Amendment protections against excessive force.”
[...] “I am seriously concerned that the rules governing the use of force, in particular the use of pepper spray, are not well understood in the context of civil disobedience and various forms of public protest,” Brown wrote to Paul Cappitelli, director of the state Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training. “The recent ‘occupation’ protests in cities throughout California and on campuses of the University of California underscore the urgency of articulating guidelines that are crystal clear and comport with constitutional requirements.”
UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi sent a letter to the university last night. Chancellor Katehi tells us that:
The group was informed in writing… that if they did not dismantle the encampment, it would have to be removed… However a number of protestors refused our warning, offering us no option but to ask the police to assist in their removal.
No other options? The list of options is endless. To begin with, the chancellor could have thanked them for their sense of civic duty. The occupation could have been turned into a teach-in on the role of public education in this country. There could have been a call for professors to hold classes on the quad. The list of “other options” is endless.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The president of the University of California system said he was “appalled” at images of protesters being doused with pepper spray and plans an assessment of law enforcement procedures on all 10 campuses, as two police officers and the police chief were placed on administrative leave.
“Free speech is part of the DNA of this university, and non-violent protest has long been central to our history,” UC President Mark G. Yudof said in a statement Sunday in response to the spraying of students sitting passively at UC Davis. “It is a value we must protect with vigilance.”
Linda Katehi, (remember her?) the chancellor of University of California Davis, said on Sunday that she shared students’ outrage and set a 30-day deadline for a task force investigating the incident to report its findings.
Katehi has faced calls to resign over the Friday incident, captured on video and circulated on the internet, in which police in body armour doused a line of protesters in pepper spray as they sat in a line.
Video of UC Davis protesters, in an amazing show of restraint, gave the university chancellor Linda Katehi the very coldest of receptions in her walk from a press briefing where she mostly defended the pepper spray brutality earlier that day. Could this “silent treatment” method of protesting catch on elsewhere?
(CNN) – Under pressure to resign, the chancellor of the University of California, Davis, established a task force Saturday to look into an incident where a police officer sprayed seated protesters with pepper spray at point blank range.
Linda Katehi told CNN’s Don Lemon that she considered the police action on Friday “unacceptable,” but stressed she has no plans to step down.