I don’t even really know where to start on this. I used to blog politically here a lot more back in 2007 but have tried to refrain from that for several reasons now. This, however, has struck such a nerve in me that I have to say something.
Police Pepper Spray Peaceful Protestors
First, if you live under a rock (or another country) and don’t know about the incident of police brutality on the UC Davis campus, then read this and watch the videos if you can stomach them. I almost didn’t. I couldn’t get through the whole thing without working myself into such anger that I had to leave the room. It’s hard to watch. It’s hard to believe something like this would happen in our day.
Why? Maybe I live in a bubble. The Occupy movement here in Austin has been dramatically more civil than in other parts of the nation. While there have been a few arrests, there’s been little to no drama, and the APD has been supportive of the safety of the protestors to the extent that they willingly stop downtown traffic to allow the protestors to parade through the streets. I think this is a direct reflection of the education system in Austin and the high acceptance and tolerance levels in our liberal Texan city. We’re lucky. Some folks, like the students and faculty at UC Davis, are not. The police man who pepper sprayed the young and old who sat on the sidewalk with their arms linked in peaceful protest did nothing but prove that peace and solidarity and the strength of community can and will win out over violence.
It makes me despair in the future of humanity, but gives me hope that there are people out there who will give their all to preserve peace.
The Despicable Actions of the Administration
This arcticle by UC Davis professor Bob Ostertag is the best article I’ve read so far about the protest and why it and the actions of the administration were so horrendous. He mentions to the health and safety hazards of pepper spray and how, days after the brutal attack, there are several students who are still sick and burned from the chemicals.
“As with chili peppers, some people tolerate pepper spray well, while others have extreme reactions. It is not known why this is the case. As a result, if a doctor sees pepper spray used in a prison, he or she is required to file a written report. And regulations prohibit the use of pepper spray on inmates in all circumstances other than the immediate threat of violence. If a prisoner is seated, by definition the use of pepper spray is prohibited. Any prison guard who used pepper spray on a seated prisoner would face immediate disciplinary review for the use of excessive force. Even in the case of a prison riot in which inmates use extreme violence, once a prisoner sits down he or she is not considered to be an imminent threat. And if prison guards go into a situation where the use of pepper spray is considered likely, they are required to have medical personnel nearby to treat the victims of the chemical agent.
Apparently, in the state of California felons incarcerated for violent crimes have rights that students at public universities do not.”
The Shadow was Only a Small & Passing Thing
When using your VOICE becomes a crime so heinous it “forces” officers to use violence on children, my faith in humanity dwindles. My heart breaks. And at the same time, my spirit is uplifted by the community of people, young and old, who refuse to give in, who link arms and raise their voices louder, and who, no matter how many times they are beaten and burned and kicked, refuse to act in kind and instead remain peaceful and connected in their solidarity and beliefs. They remind me that there is still beauty and hope left in humanity and they are the ones that will save us in the end. Thank you to those old souls who know the importance of never giving up for what you believe in.