This is a general update on the UC Davis Occupation, the illegal police assault on multiple students, and the fallout. It’s a little stream of consciousness, because there’s a lot to cover.
For those of you who don’t know, UC Davis, the site of the horrible police brutality and inspirational protester’s victory that Amp posted about here is my local university. It’s right up highway 80, about 45 minutes away. It’s where my wife got her degree.
Even so, I was surprised to learn that the fellow leading the, “This is a moment of peace/You can go, we will not follow you,” chant is someone I know. His name is Tom Zolot. He’s one of the leaders of the UC Davis Unitarian Universalist Young Adult group, and he’s remarkable.
This is Tom.
I don’t want to make this about him. As he noted on his facebook page, “I am no leader. We have no leaders. I was there by circumstance. WE HAVE NO LEADERS. Monday, 12, quad, We need everyone to fight.” Still, though he may not want to glorify himself, he’s my friend, he’s my UU brother, and I want to give him a moment.
Here’s the video he shot. It begins directly after the pepper-spraying.
In addition to giving a moment to Tom, I want to give a moment to the UU principles that he’s living by. It’s telling that it took a 22 year old college student to deescalate a potential riot while the police did everything they could to turn a nonviolent situation violent. Thank god the protesters were able to act as the mature adults in that situation. it could have been so much worse.
Tom also wrote a response to Chancellor Katehi’s Letter to the UC Davis community that I’ll reproduce here:
November 18, 2011
To UC Davis Campus Community,
I am writing to tell you about events that occurred Friday afternoon at UC Davis relating to a group of protestors who chose to set up an encampment on the quad Thursday as part of a week of peaceful demonstrations on our campus that coincided with many other occupy movements at universities throughout the country.
It would have remained peaceful if we did not have the police called in on us. Cops brought weapons onto that quad, we brought oatmeal and signs.
The group did not respond to requests from administration and campus police to comply with campus rules that exist to protect the health and safety of our campus community. The group was informed in writing this morning that the encampment violated regulations designed to protect the health and safety of students, staff and faculty. The group was further informed that if they did not dismantle the encampment, it would have to be removed.
We responded very clearly. I personally looked Assistant Vice Chancellor Griselda Castro in the eye and asked her not to send in riot police and to be our ally. We got one night of assembly before recieving a 3pm time limit on our encampment. Their notice had no specifics, nothing we could agree to change for the “health and safety concerns”. Chancellor Katehi was not interested in dialogue or any possible compromise.
Following our requests, several of the group chose to dismantle their tents this afternoon and we are grateful for their actions.
Those tents we dismantled so they can be set up again. DO NOT BE GRATEFUL.
However a number of protestors refused our warning,
ALL the protestors. Hundreds of students then joined us.
offering us no option but to ask the police to assist in their removal.
You had so many more options,
We are saddened to report that during this activity, 10 protestors were arrested and pepper spray was used.
Your police officer Chancellor Katehi stepped over these students to spray them. The officers could have passed.
We will be reviewing the details of the incident.
I DO NOT BELIEVE YOU HAVE THE COURAGE.
We appreciate and strongly defend the rights of all our students, faculty and staff to robust and respectful dialogue as a fundamental tenet of our great academic institution. At the same time, we have a responsibility to our entire campus community, including the parents who have entrusted their students to us, to ensure that all can live, learn and work in a safe and secure environment. We were aware that some of those involved in the recent demonstrations on campus were not members of the UC Davis community and this required us to be even more vigilant about the safety of our students, faculty and staff. We take this responsibility very seriously.
You never sought to enter into any meaningful conversation about this encampment and would never have allowed us to hold any part in decision making. You had a responsibility to the students arrested and sprayed. You had a responsibility to me, I ate pepper spray because of you Chancellor. Answer that greivence!
The “outside members” were extremely few in number, less than the ratios allowed for our clubs. This is basically a lie Chancellor.
I studied as a high school student in Shields library, was that against the policies of the administration Chancellor?
We will be the vigilant ones. We will return.
While we have appreciated the peaceful and respectful tone of the demonstrations during the week,
the encampment raised serious health and safety concerns,
Which you have still yet to enumerate.
and the resources required to supervise this encampment could not be sustained,
We did not need supervision.
especially in these very tight economic times when our resources must support our core academic mission.
Then why are faculty cuts happening and increases in admin salaries.
We deeply regret that many of the protestors today chose not to work with our campus staff and police to remove the encampment as requested. We are even more saddened by the events that subsequently transpired to facilitate their removal.
You will come to regret it more when the community demands your resignation. I am not saddened, Chancellor, because hundreds of fellow students rallied to our defense and shamed the officers abusing us. Shame on you as well Chancellor.
We appreciate the substantive dialogue the students have begun here on campus as part of this week.s activities, and we want to offer appropriate opportunities to express opinions, advance the discussion and suggest solutions as part of the time-honored university tradition. We invite our entire campus community to consider the topics related to the occupy movement you would like to discuss and we pledge to work with you to develop a series of discussion forums throughout our campus.
You seek to define what is appropriate and give us no say. We are not your children, we are your charge, your students, and if we believe in the methodology of prolonged encampment in a central public space and our senate boldly supports us and requests no police action against us, which they did, then you have violated us completely. You are clearly unclear about your role and should be removed from office.
I ask all members of the campus community for their support in ensuring a safe environment for all members of our campus community. We hope you will actively support us in accomplishing this objective.
Community, the only way to protect students, and ensure safe environs, is to make education something we can afford, make police decrease or remove their weapon arsenal, if not remove them COMPLETELY, demand the firing of the officer who sprayed us and DEMAND the Chancellor’s resignation.
Linda P.B. Katehi
Furious Student trying to rest and heal
The pepper-spraying was incredibly scary. The ‘you can go’ was incredibly inspirational. This video from the next day of Chancellor Katehi waking to her car gave me chills.
The absolute silence of the students leaves Katehi utterly alone with her shame. Though she’s surrounded, all you can hear is the clicking of her heels on the pavement. This is how you do it.
Quite a few people have been calling for Chancellor Katehi’s resignation, and I agree. It’s hard to see how she can come back from this. In order to be an effective chancellor, you need the trust of your students and faculty, and right now she has neither. I’m not sure what on earth she could do to make up for violently militarizing a peaceful protest. How do you say ‘sorry’ for 45 minutes of vomiting blood?
Here’s a message on the UC Davis English Department’s homepage, calling for her resignation. Holy crap.
The faculty of the UC Davis English Department supports the Board of the Davis Faculty Association in calling for Chancellor Katehi’s immediate resignation and for “a policy that will end the practice of forcibly removing non-violent student, faculty, staff, and community protesters by police on the UC Davis campus.” Further, given the demonstrable threat posed by the University of California Police Department and other law enforcement agencies to the safety of students, faculty, staff, and community members on our campus and others in the UC system, we propose that such a policy include the disbanding of the UCPD and the institution of an ordinance against the presence of police forces on the UC Davis campus, unless their presence is specifically requested by a member of the campus community. This will initiate a genuinely collective effort to determine how best to ensure the health and safety of the campus community at UC Davis.
Angus Johnston at StudentActivism.net has some of the best updates on this developing situation, including an excellent post, Ten Things You Should Know About Friday’s UC Davis Police Violence. My favorite is #5: “University of California Police are not authorized to use pepper spray except in circumstances in which it is necessary to prevent physical injury to themselves or others.” I’ve seen a lot of people posting that it’s routine (and legal) for cops to use pepper spray to punish peaceful noncompliance with orders, and it’s nice to hear that in this case at least, that is not true.
Also from Studentactivism.net, we now have a named eyewitness confirming early reports of UC Davis Police firing pepper spray directly into protester’s mouths
According to Fatima Sbeih, a senior international relations major who attended the protest, students had been sitting peacefully and were not warned about the actions police enforcement used to break apart a circle formed around the encampment.
“We were sitting there peacefully,” Sbeih said. “I didn’t even hear a warning for the spraying, just by the students telling us all to turn around, and then we turned and we were sprayed, just like that. One of the cops was yelling at a guy saying he’s going to spray him in the face and then grabs him in the face and sprays him. They grabbed one of the protesters and sprayed it directly in his mouth. We were there peacefully, the tents were down, they had no reason to spray us.”
More when I have it.
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