Occupy UC Davis

The past few days have seen very interesting developments in the Occupy movement, from all parts of the spectrum, but the news item that i’ve found most profoundly affecting is UC Davis’ Chancellor Katehi’s perp walk last Saturday night.

A little background:  after the Occupy group had set up some tents last week in the campus quadrangle, the chancellor decreed that they presented a clear danger to public safety and sent her police to get rid of them.  A video of police Lieutenant Pike walking on Friday afternoon along a line of about twenty students seated with their arms linked, pepperspraying them at close range and then walking back down the line spraying them again went viral and has now been seen by millions of people.  The chancellor’s chief of police declared that night in a press conference that the police had been surrounded by a mob and, fearful for their safety, were forced to use pepper spray against students who were blocking their path, but the poor thing was clearly unaware that numerous videos and countless still photos of the event had already been posted, making it clear that she was lying since the police were obviously neither surrounded nor even blocked.

In full Damage Control Mode before she’d seen the videos, the chancellor held a press conference repeating her police chief’s lie and speculating that the students had been infiltrated by outside agitators and again stressing her concern for their safety.

On Saturday afternoon, by then obviously having seen video coverage of her police in action and responding to demands that she resign, the chancellor held another press conference stressing that all she was doing was trying to protect the students but she went ahead and tossed out a couple of scapegoats, declaring that she’d placed Lt. Pike and another police officer on administrative leave and would be investigating the affair.

No students were allowed into the press conference, so they surrounded the building, forcing the chancellor’s hand since by this time she fully understood that however much she might want to call in SWAT teams and have the students all machine gunned, good damage control required that she negotiate.

And so she did.

And thus we got this astonishing video of her March of Shame, accompanied only by her husband and an unidentified woman, from the door of the building about a hundred yards through a gauntlet of protesters sitting absolutely silently along her path to her SUV.  Throughout almost all of her walk, the only sound you can hear is the two women’s heels on the pavement.  I have never seen a more eloquent nonviolent demonstration.

Actually, the only demonstration that i recall being more moving was both hideously violent and on a vastly higher plane – the self immolation of Thich Quang Duc in Saigon in June, 1963.  I sure do wish i had the balls to do that in front of St. Mary’s Cathedral.

On Sunday, the Grand High Yudof of the whole University of California system got into the act and leaned on the lessor chancellors to rein in their cops and cut out the horrible scenes he’d been seeing recently, cops clubbing both students and old faculty members in Berkeley just the other day and then pepper spraying everybody in Davis a few days later are not the kind of fundraising material he’d hoped to be getting, and he’s demanding a full review of the incidents so that an underling somewhere can be punished while the chancellors, vice-chancellors, associate chancellors, and assistant chancellors are given raises for preserving the integrity of the university system.

This morning the Davis chancellor reiterated her refusal to resign, saying that she needed to stay for the good of the university to get it through these difficult times although she may also have been influenced by making well over half a million bucks a year in salary and lavish benefits, plus a cushy job for her husband.   Oh, and she’s tossed out another scapegoat, placing her lying police chief on administrative leave….at full salary and benefits, just like the two pepper-spraying cops.

But a far better analysis than my feeble attempt above, and furthermore copiously documented, is this open letter from a UC Davis faculty member.

But speaking of gauntlets, i happened to roll through this rather more pleasant one on 14th Street at just the right time the other morning to catch the sun slanting in on the scaffolding in a most charming fashion:

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