(4 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
November 18th on the Quad at University of California, Davis:
A friend sent me the video. Perhaps because it was my alma mater. It opens on a damp, leaden day, so typical of Northern California in November. Yet, the weather has not deadened the mood of the students on the quad.
The police have come to evict their occupation. The students respond to the dismantling of their encampment by sitting in a wide circle around the officers. They sit with their heads bowed and their backs to the cops destroying their camp. Nothing more than that, just sitting with arms linked. The officers pass through the ring and the students make no effort to stop them. A crowd gathers to watch.
Some officers attempt to remove students from the ring and drag them away. The police seem compelled to force any behavior not scripted for us into submission with force. They never seem to ask themselves if the behavior is dangerous, or if it even matters to their mission. What would happen if the police simply ignored the ring of protestors sitting around them? But the people in the ring are saying “no” to authority with their bodies and that can not be allowed.
The commanding officer waves his men off the protesters. He crosses the ring to spray the entire line of students in the face with pepper spray. He does this with a casual air of a man spraying an insect. Batons are used to pry people apart. Police force the protesters to the ground and kneel on their backs to cuff them.
Reports surface of one man forcible sprayed directly in the mouth. Forty-five minutes later, he still coughs up blood. Two people are taken by ambulance to the hospital, one admitted for chemical burns.
This is just one of a litany of violent episodes against peaceful protesters, but I watch with a special horror because this is my school–the place I learned so much in my youth, a place of happy, peaceful memories. I consider turning it off, but I am glad I don’t. Near the end of the tape, a miracle happens.
Grace descends upon the scene. The crowd chants “shame on you” and slowly the tide turns. The students discover their power and use it.
Watch the faces of the police as the force of the people come to bear upon them.
To all those who believe we are powerless against those with money and weapons, I offer you this astounding moment of dignity and power.
I offer you the people united.