Police Abuse On Parade

This is America, folks:

Whatever it is on the campus at UC Davis, it is not a democracy. It's a police state. For helmeted cops to be openly pepper-spraying unarmed peacefully demonstrating students at a fucking campus is not American. The over-reaction, the lack of professionalism, the random sadism of this boggles the mind. The chancellor of the university, Linda P.B. Katehi, who invited these goons to break up Occupy Davis on the grounds of a campus those students and their parents pay for, has some explaining to do. Here's her comment so far:

"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."

Notice the weasel words: "events that subsequently transpired". Notice how no one is actually responsible for these "events transpiring." These kids are harming no-one and exercising a core First Amendment right. The only response to this, to my mind, is to return to that spot in massive numbers and maintain a rigorous nonviolence in defense not just of their cause, but of the First Amendment itself: a sit-in, in other words, in defense of the First Amendment. A related protest Occupy Davis has had no such problems. From one of their members:

At Occupy Davis, relations with the democratically elected city council and local police forces have been genial and productive. The authorities have worked continuously to harmonize the occupation's presence with the park and surrounding businesses and ensure that all aspects of the encampment remain non-violent. Those in charge of using force are aware that they are democratically elected officials that are directly accountable to the people.

Occupy UC Davis, a mere three blocks away, is under the jurisdiction of an undemocratic, appointed regime of force over which its subjects have no meaningful democratic control. The authorities there attacked non-violent protesters with indifference, and, in some cases, a clear display of sadistic pleasure.

There could be no better illustration of the differences between a democratic, accountable public safety effort and a fascist, totalitarian, unaccountable police state. The students of UC Davis have no meaningful voice, and that is reflected at the very top of the administration down to the officer on the ground who can spice up his day with a confident sense of utter, unassailable impunity.

You can forgive, but hold accountable, officers who make mistakes in the heat of the moment. But taking glee in spraying pepper spray in the faces of unarmed students is an ugly, ugly event.