I’ve been pretty passive over the past month in regards to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Not because I’m an asshole or part of the 1%, I’m neither, but because honestly, I’ve grown pretty used to the world being ruled by bankers, corporations, corrupt politicians and the select few who are terribly rich, and can also double as felons. I applaud the efforts of protestors fighting an incredible cause, but I am jaded beyond return and hate the greedy aspect of our society so much, I feel like it would make me sick to try and fail, and in turn become even more jaded.
Then, the UC Davis incident occurred.
I have never in life been so outraged by the actions of police in my life, as my feelings are only rivaled by the Rodney King beating and the shooting of Sean Bell. The King and Bell incidents were insane violations of human rights and police protocol that infuriated me, and a nation, and this moment when a horrendous police officer decided to pepper spray a dozen or so peaceful protesting students, linked arm in arm quietly, will find its place in history besides them.
I won’t link the video of the incident, as you’ve obviously seen it 100 times, but I wanted to write about it on my blog purely to remind people, non-violent college organized protests have been vital throughout history, especially during the Civil Rights Movement and the fight for women’s rights. When I went to USC, political action, and the forming of political beliefs, was not only commonplace and an important part of growing up, it was encouraged by the University. Letting your voice be heard, while it grows, is part of your paid education. Obviously, you can’t be insane, violent or violate other people’s rights in the process, but that was not the case in the UC Davis quad Friday when Officer John Pike decided to douse these kids with pepper spray from 3 feet away, sometimes aiming intentionally inside of their mouths. These students continue to dry heave throughout the weekend, while one student has incurred nerve damage from how tight these excessive cops handcuffed him. Pike, much of the responding riot unit, and the the UC Davis administration, performed a horrific act and many of them should be fired for their decisions. I also believe Officer Pike should be criminally charged.
I encourage you to write to Officer John Pike and without stooping to his level, explain how disappointed you are what went down at UC Davis. I have. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call 530-752-3989 and vocalize your disgust at the school police force’s process for dealing with these non-violent student protestors. I did.
Yesterday, at 2 pm, the Chancellor of UC Davis, Linda Katehi, who should, and will, probably take the biggest fall for these events, held a press conference where she announced that a committee made up of administrators, teachers and students will examine the use of force and action will be taken if warranted (which they will be if I know Public Relations at all). She also said she believes the actions taken by some of the police officers were “unacceptable.”
The weirdest, and greatest, part of yesterday’s press conference though was that protesting students surrounded the building, again peacefully, and seemed to expose how guilty the Chancellor must really feel inside. Now explained as confusion, Chancellor Katehi would not leave the building for 5 hours, as word spread she felt she was being held hostage. Students who stood around her eventual walk of shame, ready to let their voices be heard in this press conference, chanted “We are peaceful” and “Just walk home,” again trying to show the safe manner of their protest. Eventually student representatives convinced the Chancellor to go home, and above is video of the walk of shame to her car, as students sat silently, with arms locked, to let her understand exactly who was viciously attacked by Officer Pike just a day prior. This makes me happy to be a human and I can not applaud its effectiveness enough.
Obviously this incident has forced me to become more active with the current protests happening worldwide, and I’m sorry to have been so nonchalant and jaded in the past. The focus of the UC Davis protest, while still being under the umbrella of OWS, was based on an upcoming 85% hike in the University of California system tuition (which is insane). We all have different focuses, but our goals are the same. Mine have become human rights and the Freedom of Speech, which are both being violated currently in the United States.
Please let your voice be heard about Officer Pike’s criminal act and let’s all stay current about what’s going on with this movement, as I have the feeling it’s going to affect all 99% of us very soon.