Some thoughts on UC Davis

I not only went to UC Davis, I loved UC Davis and the town of Davis so much I stayed there for 5 years after I finished classes and frequently campaign with my husband about moving back. It’s my favorite place I have ever lived. That said, I was deeply saddened and slightly ashamed when the pepper spray event of last week came to light.

If you aren’t aware of the incident I am referring to, in a nutshell: students and others protesting peacefully as part of Occupy UC Davis were asked to disperse, some did not, they sat down, made a circle and then were pepper sprayed. Then the police and administration lied about it. There are full details (and video) here.

Photo via Occupy UC Davis facebook page

 

I feel that it is important to note that the actions taken were by University police. I must say that when I attended UC Davis, the university police were seen as something of a joke, being bike cops who rode around in shorts didn’t help with the respect thing. I do not know if that is still the case, but seeing University police in full riot gear was unsettling. The pepper spray seems like an abject display of authority. The police were not being threatened, they were not encircled, the police were proving a point.

No one can know the whole story without being there and I have read some conflicting reports in the comments of various stories, but I don’t believe the students should have been pepper sprayed. Based on some reports, the act of using pepper spray violated university policy and (at least) two officers involved have been placed¬† on administrative leave. Personally, I would like to see the Chancellor resign.

While I am so disappointed in the behavior of the university police and administration, I am not ashamed to be an UC Davis alum.¬† I am so, so proud of the students. They remained nonviolent in the face of aggression and have continued to do so. One of the most amazing things I have read is that the students chanted “You can go” to the police. And the officers did just that. I hope that UC Davis continues to set an example of peaceful protest.

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2 Responses to “Some thoughts on UC Davis”

  1. TMae says:

    The videos I’ve watched…I was angry about it all over again last night. It was like a car accident; I couldn’t stop looking at more of them and searching for one that was going to make the behavior make sense. Of course, nothing I’ve seen has offered any moment of, “Ohhh….yeah….I can see that.”

    I was talking to my dad about it last night – he’s a big hippie liberal who protested a bunch back in the day – and I was talking to him about it and waiting for his indignation to rise to meet mine he sighed and said, “Yeah…I’m too old and have seen this too many times. It’s all about power. They’ve got it, you don’t.” He’s right, but how very depressing.

    You know what else I hate about these situations? The way these arrogant asshole officers wind up as evidence for the “all police suck” trope.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    I’m torn because we only know what we see on the videos. We don’t know what happened before. And any large gathering is a threat to police in and of itself. At the same time, I watch the videos and I cry. And then there is the whole following orders thing. We don’t know what was said to them, is it the system or the officers. People are lying and we’ll never know. But if it was the system, he seemed to do it with relish. Ugh. Off to try and not think about this for a while.

    [Reply]

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