Written by Jon Chaconas
Students Shout: “Shame On You”
As a recent graduate from UC Davis, I was disturbed by the images of police brutality against students on campus. In some ways, the police officer who sprayed nonviolent, compliant students with pepper spray did the Occupy Education Movement a favor. He promoted its cause, via lively images on Youtube, which certainly caught my attention more than an “uneventful protest” would have.
I remember being in class in 2010 and was irritated by the methods of disruption student protesters were using at the time. However, the images I saw online this week force me to ask: Why would someone get pepper sprayed for no visible reason? I have occupied space in the quad studying, climbing trees, or eating lunch, but I was never pepper sprayed. I have even skateboarded in the quad and was never threatened by police.
What is it about this protest that is so threatening it requires police to arrive in riot gear and commit violence? What were these students doing wrong? They weren’t trespassing. They weren’t being violent. They weren’t making noise, or resisting arrest. There is little to say: the video is self evident, and no amount of context or explanation justifies the fact that students on their own campus had their right to exist peacefully in their quad violated.