UC Davis Republicans have released a new video showing what actually transpired on the campus before some protesters were pepper-sprayed. The almost nine-minute video shows that the UC Davis campus police were encircled by the demonstrators, who tell the police to free some of their arrested comrades. “If you let them go,” the protesters say, “we will let you leave.” Later, the protesters can be heard chanting, “F— the police.”
The national media have made it appear that the police attacked demonstrators peacefully protesting on a sidewalk for no good reason at all. NBC anchor Brian Williams called them “kids” and suggested that parents in the audience should be outraged over their treatment.
Meanwhile, campus police are finally beginning to speak out. UC Berkeley police, who responded to threatening protesters on that campus with batons, said that officers were injured by chairs and bricks thrown by demonstrators.
In the UC Davis incident, after warning protesters on the sidewalk to leave and showing them canisters of pepper spray, the police saturate them with a heavy mist of the substance, which is used to make them easier to move. The video also shows the sidewalk demonstrators preparing and expecting to get sprayed, even covering up their faces to protect themselves.
The use of the pepper spray has been depicted by various media outlets as completely unprovoked. In fact, this new video shows that it was a virtual last resort by the police to restore law and order on campus. The use of batons on the demonstrators had been ruled out by the campus police chief. Batons were used, however, during a previous confrontation with protesters on the UC Berkeley campus.
The sensationalized anti-police manner in which the UC Davis confrontation has been portrayed by the media led the Chancellor of the university, Linda Katehi, to put the campus police chief and two officers on leave. Davis College Republicans chairman Marcus Shibler has called this completely unjust, saying that the police were doing their job and that more protesters should have been arrested for surrounding and threatening the police as they carried out their duties. Shibler is also upset that Katehi, who had originally ordered the protesters evicted and their tents dismantled, has caved to the protesters, letting them reestablish their tent city and providing portable toilets for them. Fortunately, he says previous information that the university was providing them with meals turned out to be false.
The UC Davis English Department, a hotbed of radical activism on campus, has issued a statement calling for Katehi’s immediate resignation and for “a policy that will end the practice of forcibly removing non-violent student, faculty, staff, and community protesters by police on the UC Davis campus.”
Interestingly, by noting the presence of “community protesters,” this statement confirms that people from off-campus were part of the protests. In originally justifying the police action, Katehi had noted that non-students were involved in the demonstrations.
The UC Davis English Department statement goes on to urge “the disbanding of the UCPD [University of California Police Department] and the institution of an ordinance against the presence of police forces on the UC Davis campus, unless their presence is specifically requested by a member of the campus community. This will initiate a genuinely collective effort to determine how best to ensure the health and safety of the campus community at UC Davis.”
An English professor by the name of Nathan Brown, who teaches Marxist theory, has been behind some of the protests. He is paid about $64,000 a year by the university, does not have tenure, and thinks the administration doesn’t have the will to fire him. He wrote an open letter calling on Katehi to go and wants the UC Davis police thrown off campus, saying that “student security services” can deal with most crime on campus.
One of his scheduled classes is “The Real Movement of History: Left Communism and the Communization Current,” featuring the Communist Manifesto and other Marxist writings. He says students attending his classes participate in protests against budget cuts to state funding of education.
On Monday, as radicals attempted to close down the campus and occupy various university buildings, Brown was listed on a poster as teaching a workshop to protesters on “Three Theories of Power: Marx, Fanon, Foucault.” Other workshops were on prisoners’ rights, yoga, meditation, anarchist anthropology, and the dangers of corporations.
Meanwhile, the police union, known as the Federated University Police Officers Association, has issued a statement in response to the confrontations with protesters on the UC Davis and UC Berkeley campuses, asking that “the rules and regulations of the University of California along with state laws be respected” and that protesters not “interfere with the day-to-day operations of the university.” The union adds, “There are still a lot of students, faculty and staff out there who simply want to come to work or continue on with their education without fear of disruption. We should all respect this.”
The statement refers to UC Berkeley police responding to a separate report of a gunman on the campus.
It went on, “A UC Berkeley staff member saw a man with a gun and reported it to police. Your UC Berkeley police did not run the other way or even wait for outside police agencies to respond before taking any type of action. Your UC Berkeley Police Department quickly responded to a call for help from one of your fellow campus community members. They did this knowing that due to the severity of this type of call, they may never return to their own families. This shooting happened at a time where UC Berkeley police officers had recently been harshly criticized because of the way they handled the protestors on November 9th. They already were feeling like there was a lack of support by the UC administration but because of their professionalism and dedication to the campus community’s safety, they responded quickly to this deadly confrontation while putting their own lives on the line.”
The UC Berkeley Police Officers’ Association, which represents the officers who handled demonstrators with batons on that campus, issued a statement saying, “A video clip gone viral does not depict the full story or the facts leading up to an actual incident. Multiple dispersal requests were given in the days and hours before the tent removal operation. Not caught on most videos were scenes of protesters hitting, pushing, grabbing officers’ batons, fighting back with backpacks and skateboards.”
It went on, “While students were calling the protest ‘non-violent,’ the events on November 9th were anything but nonviolent. In previous student Occupy protests, protesters hit police officers with chairs, bricks, spitting, and using homemade plywood shields as weapons—with documented injuries to officers.”