Occupy & Police Violence

November 19, 2011 at 12:19 pm (Thoughts) (, , , , , )

The video above is of the University of California police spraying pepper spray on students at UC Davis this week. I can’t even watch the video all the way through. This follows last week’s clubbing of UC Berkeley students, not to mention the scenes of police violence from Oakland, New York, Portland and other cities. There have been thousands more photos and videos of police brutalizing protesters who are just standing or sitting there, who aren’t threatening police in any way. After the UC Berkeley incident, the Chancellor’s letter basically said that the police were “forced” to use their batons and that linking arms is “not non-violent civil disobedience.” Huh?

If you think those are isolated, check out Joshua Holland’s “Caught on Camera: 10 Shockingly Violent Police Assaults on Occupy Protesters” in Alternet yesterday. I couldn’t watch them.

I can’t believe that anyone thinks that raiding camps in the middle of the night, or using batons, tear gas, and rubber bullets is acceptable. I literally just can’t believe that someone somewhere gave the go ahead to any of it. And the rest of us can’t pretend it’s not happening. Regardless of how you feel about the Occupy movement, this is not OK.

Here are some links to other police-related stories that I’ve been following

The caveats being, of course, that there are communities that are brutalized by police every day and no one pays attention. Plus, similar tactics were used to suppress the civil rights movement, except then it was water cannons and attack dogs.


  1. Ben Brucato said,

    You might find my blog “NYPD: ‘Militarized to its bones'” of some use. It’s available here: http://www.benbrucato.com/?p=268


  2. Christopher said,

    if you can’t watch the first video all the way, you may want to start from 6 minutes in. something truly remarkable happens.

  3. Timothy said,

    What Christopher said! I started the video feeling sick to my stomach and ended it (thanks to the last two minutes) with a sense of almost euphoric joy. Scenes of liberation, in our lifetime.

  4. Jen Angel said,

    I agree, but I saw another discussion elsewhere where people were questioning whether this is really a “victory” of getting the cops to leave, or rather them leaving on their own because they realized that one of them had f-ed up.

    Also, in Oakland, when there have been “incidents” the number of cops has been so overwhelming.

    I really question if continuing to defend encampments is the best next move, or if there is something else, but we’ll see how things unfold.

  5. manjula martin said,

    Here’s a really thoughtful essay on the UC Davis stuff, with insights from history of civil disobedience, by Davis professor Bob Ostertag: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-ostertag/uc-davis-protest_b_1103039.html

  6. Jen Angel said,

    That’s an awesome commentary!

    “Throughout my life I have seen, and sometimes participated in, peaceful civil disobedience in which sitting and linking arms was understood by citizens as a posture that indicates, in the clearest possible way available, protestors’ intent to be non-violent. If example, if you look through training materials from groups like the Quakers, the various pacifist organization and centers, and Christian organizations, it is universally taught that sitting and linking arms is the best way to de-escalate any confrontation between police and people exercising their first amendment right to public speech.

    Likewise, for over 30 years I have seen police universally understand this gesture. Many many times I have seen police treat protestors who sat and linked arms when told they must disperse or face arrest as a very routine matter: the police then approach the protestors individually and ask them if, upon arrest, they are going to walk of their own accord or not the police will have to carry them. In fact, this has become so routine that I have often wondered if this form of protest had become so scripted as to have lost most of its meaning.

    No more.

    What we have seen in the last two weeks around the country, and now at Davis, is a radical departure from the way police have handled protest in this country for half a century.”

    Bob Ostertag wrote a great book a few years back called “Peoples Movements People’s Press: The Journalism of Social Justice Movements.” Here’s a link: http://www.powells.com/biblio/61-9780807061664-0

    I cited it in this piece I wrote in 2008 called “Media and Activism: Creating and Maintaining Effective Movement Media” which you can read online here: http://www.scribd.com/full/3108695?access_key=key-14igzgmrbwfxn0wch885

  7. elissa said,

    Your blog came up in a search for toledo area bloggers. Do you currently live in Toledo OH? If so I may be using your blog in an article I”m writing. Do you happen to know of any other local bloggers I should check out?
    elissa peterson

  8. Jen Angel said,

    Hi Elissa – I lived in Toledo until 2006. Now I live in California.

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