AP/The Enterprize, Wayne Tilcock
By now, most people have seen the video of events which occurred and went viral on the campus of the University of California, Davis on Friday.
Students were seen sitting arm in arm with heads down, surrounded by uniformed campus police wearing hard plastic shields covering their heads and faces, were pepper sprayed indiscriminately by two cops as if the students were cockroaches needing to be exterminated.
The scene is etched in my head seeing the two cops gleefully and without conscience taking direct aim and spraying student's heads, while other students outside the encircled group were yelling at the offending police, "The whole world is watching; shame on you".
Shame on them indeed!
Yesterday listening to the Chancellor of UC Davis, Linda Katehi, finally condemning the police methods and siding with the student protesters (after initially siding with the police actions, then issuing dissembling and contorted explanations that were far from convincing) announced the two cops that did the spraying as well as the police chief (who apparently authorized the pepper spraying) were being placed on paid, administrative leave, while she called for an investigation.
Meanwhile, some faculty members at Davis have called for Katehi to step down as Chancellor, believing her handling of the situation was completely incompetent and not protective of the students at Davis.
What we are seeing escalating on college campuses such as UC Davis, Berkeley and others, are legitimate protests against severe increases in tuition costs and crippling student loans as well as protests in solidarity with the occupy movement happening all over the country, as authorities are increasingly over-reacting and resorting to brutal tactics to put down the protests.
It's as if the authorities in America are refusing to distinguish between "people peaceably assembling to petition for a redress of grievances", a right granted in the 1st Amendment of the Constitution, and an angry, threatening mob in the streets.
You'd expect such tactics in Syria and now happening in a Mubarak-less Egypt where democracy has yet to take hold and the military council in charge is threatening to maintain its authority even AFTER parliamentary elections are held next week.
Yet in America, as elsewhere in the world, we have the authorities defending the plutocratic oligarchs, the 1% that have seized and usurped control of our supposed "representative democracy", (to benefit themselves), while those representing the 99%, (who have clearly identified the corrupt perpetrators) are increasingly brutalized in demonstrations in cities and towns and now the college campuses.
Official repression like we saw on the UC Davis campus, Berkeley, the occupy protests in Oakland, New York, Chicago, Denver, Portland, Seattle et al, does nothing to end the protests and only serves to galvanize the demonstrators resolve to continue and resist.
As has happened in cities and towns, it will only grow in sympathy and solidarity on more college campuses.