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.
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. They chanted "we are peaceful" and "just walk home," but nothing changed for several hours. Eventually student representatives convinced the chancellor to leave after telling their fellow students to sit down and lock arms.
ME: Chancellor, do you still feel threatened by the students?
One of the students pepper sprayed yesterday, a young man wearing a brown down coat over a tie-dye shirt, said he met with Kotehi and personally showed her a video of pepper spraying attack. Speaking to about a thousand students with the "human mic," the young man said he personally asked for her resignation.
More about yesterday's pepper-spraying videos, from Brian Stelter at the New York Times:
Some protesters were hospitalized afterward, according to local reports. Ten were arrested. Interviewed at a hospital by a local newspaper, The Davis Enterprise, one of the protesters, Dominic Gutierrez, said that he had been sprayed while trying to shield others.
"When you protect the things you believe in with your body, it changes you for good. It radicalizes you for good," he said.
Boing Boing reader Sarah Messbauer, in the comments for this blog post, writes:
So proud to say that I was there tonight. The greatest words are those left unspoken, and I sincerely hope Katehi got the message.
And Boing Boing reader William Fertman, who was also there tonight, sends in the reassuring news that the revolution comes with pizza:
I was there about an hour and a half before the walk of shame, and at the time, there were maybe 100-200 students there, very respectful and committed to non-violence.
The gathering outside the building (named, ironically enough, Surge II) occurred because the students assembled to hear the press conference Katehi was to give at 4pm. When it was announced that the conference was press-only, the students quickly organized in protest, demanding to hear her explanations in person.
At ~4:30, it was announced that the press conference was cancelled. Students were admitted by staff into the building through a back door, and assembled peacefully inside some office space, but outside the studio where the presser was being held.
There was some chanting and use of the human microphone, but the students remained admirably peaceful and respectful. After demanding the conference be moved to a larger venue so students could witness it, they left the building and re-assembled outside to await Katehi's exit.
It was quarter of 6 when I left, and the students had already decided to permit Katehi to leave in silence, and formed a pair of human corridors at both doors of the building. It was an impressive display of maturity and thoughtful protest.
And after that, pizza.