University of California, Berkeley poetry professor and former US poet laureate Robert Hass writes in the New York Times, on what transpired when he wandered down to the Occupy with his wife, to see for himself if reports of police brutality against student protesters were really true:
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[UC Berkeley] is also the place where students almost 50 years ago touched off the Free Speech Movement, which transformed the life of American universities by guaranteeing students freedom of speech and self-governance. The steps are named for Mario Savio, the eloquent undergraduate student who was the symbolic face of the movement. There is even a Free Speech Movement Cafe on campus where some of Mr. Savio’s words are prominently displayed: “There is a time ... when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part.”
Earlier that day a colleague had written to say that the campus police had moved in to take down the Occupy tents and that students had been “beaten viciously.” I didn’t believe it. In broad daylight? And without provocation? So when we heard that the police had returned, my wife, Brenda Hillman, and I hurried to the campus. I wanted to see what was going to happen and how the police behaved, and how the students behaved. If there was trouble, we wanted to be there to do what we could to protect the students.
Once the cordon formed, the deputy sheriffs pointed their truncheons toward the crowd.
Photo:Brian Nguyen/The Aggie.
22-year-old UC Davis student W. (name withheld by request) was one of the students pepper-sprayed at point-blank range Friday by Lt. John Pike while seated on the ground, arms linked and silent.
W. tells Boing Boing that Pike sprayed them at close range with military-grade pepper spray, in a punitive manner. Pike knew the students by name from Thursday night when they "occupied" a campus plaza. The students offered Pike food and coffee and chatted with him and other officers while setting up tents. On Friday, UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi told students they had to remove their #OWS tents for unspecified "health and safety" reasons.
"Move or we're going to shoot you," Pike is reported to have yelled at one student right before delivering pepper spray. Then, turning to his fellow officers and brandishing the can in the air, "Don't worry, I'm going to spray these kids down."
Photo:Brian Nguyen/The Aggie.
XJ: So, we see in the videos and photos that you were one of the students pepper-sprayed by Lieutenant John Pike yesterday. How are you doing today?
W: I still have a burning sensation in my throat, lips and nose, especially when I start coughing, or when I'm lying in bed. Everyone who got sprayed has sustained effects like this.
XJ: Can you tell us how it happened, from where you were sitting?
W: I'd pulled my beanie hat over my eyes, to protect my eyes. I received a lot of pepper spray in my throat. Read the rest
I thought I wouldn't see a more dramatic video than the ones yesterday of the pepper-spraying of students by police at UC Davis. I was wrong.
In the video above, UC Davis students, silent, with linked arms, confront Chancellor Linda Katehi just one day after the incident. It's hard to tell exactly how many of them are present, but there they are, a huge crowd. They're seated in the same cross-legged-on-the-ground position their fellow students were yesterday just before Lt. John Pike pulled out a can of pepper spray and pulled the trigger.
Note that Katehi remains silent during what looks like her perp walk. She does not acknowledge the presence of the students. And yet, within an hour she was live on CNN explaining away the pepper-spray incident to host Don Lemon, who had to cut her off a few times because her responses were so long-winded.
Student videographer Anna Sturla shot the video above for the Davis Senior High School's newspaper/website's, The HUB.
More at The Second Alarm blog:
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A pretty remarkable thing just happened. A press conference, scheduled for 2:00pm between the UC Davis Chancellor and police on campus, did not end at 2:30. Instead, a mass of Occupy Davis students and sympathizers mobilized outside, demanding to have their voice heard. After some initial confusion, UC Chancellor Linda Katehi refused to leave the building, attempting to give the media the impression that the students were somehow holding her hostage.
A group of highly organized students formed large gap for the chancellor to leave.
[Video Link, by terrydatiger, and Video Link 2, by jamiehall1516].
At the University of California at Davis this afternoon, police tore down down the tents of students inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, and arrested those who stood in their way. Others peacefully demanded that police release the arrested.
In the video above, you see a police officer [Update: UC Davis Police Lt. John Pike] walk down a line of those young people seated quietly on the ground in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, and spray them all with pepper spray at very close range. He is clearing a path for fellow officers to walk through and arrest more students, but it's as if he's dousing a row of bugs with insecticide.
Wayne Tilcock of the Davis-Enterprise newspaper has a gallery of photographs from the incident, including the image thumbnailed above (larger size at davisenterprise.com). Ten people in this scene were arrested, nine of whom were current UC Davis students. At least one woman is reported to have been taken away in an ambulance with chemical burns.
This 8-minute video was uploaded just a few hours ago, and has already become something of an iconic, viral emblem accross the web. We're flooded with eyewitness footage from OWS protests right now, but this one certainly feels like an important one, in part because of what the crowd does after the kids are pepper-sprayed. Watch the whole thing. Read the rest
Turnstyle News photog Denise Tejada has a set of photos from today's mass protest at UC Berkeley, in California's Bay Area. At the time of this blog post, the crowd gathered is somewhere north of 1,500 people. (thanks, Alejandro de la Cruz) Read the rest
Snip from a terrific long-read by Aaron Bady, aka zunguzungu, on his experience at the OWS-inspired "Occupy Cal" protests at UC Berkeley, after campus police violently attacked peaceful fellow student demonstrators (see video above).
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At about 11:30 a.m. yesterday, a police officer told me and about eight other students that, and I quote, “the grass is closed.” We were going to sit under a tree and discuss things, and two police officers were watching us vigilantly to make sure we didn’t suddenly do something violent like try to put up tents. As we moved towards the tree, the first police officer stepped up and informed us that we could not walk from the broad concrete steps of Sproul Hall, where about a hundred people were sitting and talking, and sit on the grassy area just to the north of it. “The grass is closed,” she said.
If you meditate on these words until they become a mantra, you will learn some profound things about how police authority works. What could it possibly mean to declare that “the grass is closed”? Who could have the authority to say so? I had always considered that stretch of grass to be public; I’ve often been among the hundreds of students who eat their lunch there, every day, and 11:30 a.m. is a time of day when it is common to eat lunch. I have had conversations with other students sitting on that very grass, many times. Why was it that I could not do so now?