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While the media continues to portray OWS as a violent disorganized group the massive influx of images showing peaceful protesters brutalized by police forces are telling an all too different story. Perhaps it is an attempt to make legitimate false claims that the protesters are attempting to relive the violent past of the civil rights movement that spurns the police brutality on. Perhaps it is the innate corruption of the police that makes them respond so violently to large gatherings of people undertaking civil disobedience as a means to spread a message.
Many people are the first time hearing about the type of brutality which has been taking place for the last weeks in Oakland, New York, Portland, Dallas, San Francisco, and many other Occupy Camps on a national scale because of the incident that took place at UC Davis in which Officer Pike, a member of the campus police force, decided to unleash a canister of chemical spray to deter nonviolent protesters before their detainment. The graphic images portrayed in the now viral video show protesters huddled on a sidewalk, sitting down. The protesters did not appear to pose any eminent threat to the property they were occupying, nor the officer who maced them. Since this incident the police officers involved have been denounced by the school's public face and were put on administrative leave.
Davis Students had gathered at the campus quad on a Davis Faculty Association endorsed protest of the tuition increases and police brutality on UC campuses on the 18th of November. In response to this sanctioned protest Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi ordered riot police come to disperse the presence of protesters on the quad.
When the riot police arrived the protesters linked arms and sat down on the ground around their campsites to protect them from the riot police. The police action that ensued was as follows:
Without provocation whatsoever police used chemical agents against peaceful protesters. When the mace did not deter the protesters police resorted to using their batons to attempt to pry protesters loose. Those who were removed from the arm chains were arrested aggressively with their faces pushed into the cement and knees ground into their backs. Those who could not be separated received full blasts of pepper spray in the face. Students who tried to block their faces with shirts or clothing, police forced their mouths open and sprayed mace down their throats. Many of those were hospitalized, with reports that one student was coughing up blood up to 45 minutes after being attacked with the chemical irritant.
The outrageous display of force against completely nonviolent protesters while met with cries of despair from the crowd did not cause a riot. Students continued to chant in solidarity "Stop shooting students!" Out loud. Eventually the riot police made a tactical withdrawal in the face of the occupying protesters.
One Assistant Professor Nathan Brown, who organized the rally in solidarity with the UC Berkeley students who were beaten on campus spoke out against Chancellor Katehi, holding the official directly responsible for the violence perpetrated against peaceful students by police and calling for the Katehi's immediate resignation.
In an email to the campus community on the 16th of November Katehi reportedly addressed concern over a hate crime which had occurred days earlier. Katehi writes "it is particularly disturbing that such an act of intolerance should occur at a time when the campus community is working to create a safe and inviting space for all our students… … while these are turbulent times, as a campus community, we must be committed to a safe, welcoming environment that advances our efforts to diversity and excellence at UC Davis."
Nathan Brown goes further and challenges Katehi stating that he will leave it to his colleagues and the readers of his open letter (http://www.supportows.org/blog/ows-news/senseless-brutal-attack-by-pd-uc-davis-ordered-by-chancellor-katehi/) as to which poses more of a threat to safety: 1) Tents set up in solidarity with those who are the victims of brutal attacks or 2) police wielding batons, tear gas, mace and riot gear who beat students and use force and fear to disperse crowds. What do you think?