The Occupy movement at UC Davis is widely known by now because of the controversy surrounding the way the police dealt with the protesting students. Pepper-spraying a bunch of protesting students in cold blood did no good to law enforcement’s already tarnished image, sparking shock and outrage among many individuals.
Yet, there’s the flip side to the story, in which the bulk of students can be seen antagonizing the police for about an hour, to the extent of forcing their hand. Daniel Sonabend‘s article Did YOU Really SEE Davis? boldly proposes that the police may have, in fact, not been left with any choice but to use force to break out of the circle they had found themselves in. Reprehensible as the pepper-spraying was, goes the argument, there was reason for it, one which we may or may not be inclined to justify, depending on our point of view.
Beyond this widely-viewed and -covered incident, there was also the aftermath. The students, distraught at what happened, sat on campus grounds, waiting. When at some point later in the evening chancellor Linda Katehi walked through them, on her way to her car, they displayed their outrage by just sitting there, in silence, watching her pass by. It was a powerful and effective. gesture…
Linda Katehi eventually apologized for what took place on campus that day. She claimed that she didn’t want to be “the Chancellor of the university [they] had on Friday” anymore than the students did.
Yet, despite her apparently good intentions, it seems that this is not up to her. As long as the problems persist, the students – and people around the world – will keep protesting, and the police will keep getting summoned to manage the protests, and the heat will mount. The situation, as it stands, is such that no reform seems apt enough to tackle the underlying problems, and no politician appears bold enough to see it through, should it ever be proposed.
For this reason, it’s this writer’s prediction that the confrontation will subside only after it has been battled out. Unless, of course, people all over the world gather up and give their representatives a long, massive silent treatment that renders this world speechless for as long as the problems in question are not addressed in earnest.
Featured image from The LA Times.