I’ve tried to figure out my feelings towards what happened last week on the UC Davis campus.
I am a UC Davis alumni.
The UC Davis campus sprawls on almost 800 acres on some of the best farm land in California. During the five years I spent there, I learned, worked, and rode my bike all over the place, and the one impression that was undeniably seared into my brain was this:
The countryside and small town that surround UC Davis are quite peaceful. I never felt unsafe there, even at 2am in the morning walking back from a drunken party. Some of the activities that one learns to appreciate while attending UC Davis is the annual Picnic Day where at you can bet on the precise location a cow will poop next.
Oh, to be sure, there is thief, rape, and other nefarious crime on the campus, just like anywhere else in the world, but the scale and severity pales in comparison.
That’s exactly why I choose to attend that school. I grew up on a farm, and UC Davis seemed like a bigger version of my farming community. I had contemplated going to UC Berkeley, but after visiting the Berserkeley (not a typo) campus during a random sit-in (some protest I can’t even remember now), I realized that UC Davis was more to my liking.
Think about that.
When I first saw the footage of the UC Davis police attacking the students during an Occupy UC Davis event last week, I thought, damn – what’s wrong with them kids? That wouldn’t have happened when I went there. My fellow students protested peacefully. Why didn’t those kids just do as they were told?
The students had dismantled their tents. Only a few stayed and they were removed – nonviolently! – and arrested. Things got bad when the remaining students sat down.
Yes, folks. That’s what they did – they sat down. This crazy, and obviously dangerous, move on the student’s part prompted the police to use a level of force that, frankly, stunned me.
We are not talking Oakland here, folks. Or UC Berkeley or New York, where one might expect that students might ante up the level of violence simply because of the nature of the place. The kind of students that are attracted to a campus like UC Davis are…pastoral.
There was no reason for the campus police to visit such violent measure upon kids that were sitting down. Not throwing stuff. Not yelling in the cop’s faces. Not destroying anything. They were just sitting down.
Think about that.
- UC Davis police chief on leave after pepper spraying (csmonitor.com)
- After police violence, UC Davis students plan large rally Monday (boingboing.net)
- UC president “appalled” at UC Davis pepper spray incident (latimesblogs.latimes.com)
- Police Pepper Spray Students at UC-Davis Occupy Protest (thehollywoodgossip.com)
- UC Davis police chief on leave amid pepper spray controversy (abclocal.go.com)