21 November 2011

Torture and social decay

I spent 2002-2008 at UC Davis, studying for my PhD.
Casual policy brutality
I was horrified to see the campus police pepper spraying students taking part of a peaceful "occupy wall street" protest [video]. This behavior -- more suited to jackbooted fascists than the United States or a university campus -- is simultaneously a sign of disasterous failure of leadership as well as the depths to which the US has sunk (remember the Kent State shootings of anti-Vietnam protestors?)

There is a petition calling for the resignation of the chancellor of the university (48,000 signatures), as well as protests from the Academic Senate and a call for another demonstration against brutality at Noon today. Her response to this incident is a case study in ridiculous wording.*

This HuffPo article has over 50,000 comments. Here's another.

I wrote the following email:
Dear Chancellor Katehi and Police Chief Spicuzza,

You have failed as leaders. This recent incident of torture in the name of "safety" reveals a complete lack of discipline and humanity. It disrespects the Davis community and the rule of law.

Chief Spicuzza -- please charge officer Pike with criminal assault and battery, as well as abuse of rank. Then fire him.

Chancellor Kathehi -- please fire Chief Spicuzza for failure to "protect and serve" the UC Davis community. Then resign immediately. You clearly lack judgment with respect to the students you supposedly serve.

I have cc'd as many current and past Davis students and professors as I could find. They need to know of your failures and take action to restore our school's safety, community and spirit.

I write with disgust,

David Zetland (UCD PhD, 2008)
Bottom Line: Ben Franklin said "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety," and we are reaping the harvest of a police state formed out of the fear built in response to 9/11. Is this the beginning of the reversal or merely a step off a cliff in which the 99% are slaves of the 1%?
* 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.

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.

Following our requests, several of the group chose to dismantle their tents this afternoon and we are grateful for their actions. However a number of protestors refused our warning, offering us no option but to ask the police to assist in their removal. We are saddened to report that during this activity, 10 protestors were arrested and pepper spray was used. We will be reviewing the details of the incident.

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.

While we have appreciated the peaceful and respectful tone of the demonstrations during the week, the encampment raised serious health and safety concerns, and the resources required to supervise this encampment could not be sustained, especially in these very tight economic times when our resources must support our core academic mission. 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.

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.

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.

Linda P.B. Katehi
Chancellor

2 comments:

Mr. Kurtz said...

The footage is truly disgusting. The campus police shown are either completely untrained, or ineducable idiots. I would think the protesters have a juicy civil case to bring against the individuals and the University; they deserve not millions, but certainly something like $50K each. I heard a few hours ago that the chief was suspended, but it sounds like the Davis administration is incompetent.
Reminds me of my college days, Kent State and all that. True, at Kent State people died, but the soldiers were National Guard hoping to avoid Vietnam, not paid professionals whose job it is to deal with exactly this sort of thing.

Delbert Grady said...

More disgusting images here:
http://peppersprayingcop.tumblr.com/

dg