Saturday, November 19, 2011

Friday at Cal Davis

photo: Louise Macabitas

Angus Johnston at has a detailed narrative of the pepper spray incident at Cal Davis from Friday.

via Lili Loofbourow, who writes:

Even against an institutional backdrop that’s becoming more and more famous for meting out unnecessary violence to peaceful people, his behavior must be understood as somewhat exceptional. Look at his face as he sprays them (as best you can–he’s partially hidden behind a mask). Then fast-forward to the end of the clip (around 6:15), when the students announce to the officers that they are offering them “a moment of peace,” that is, the option of leaving without further escalating a truly horrible situation. They cry (in one of the most moving instances of the human mic I’ve ever seen) “You can go! You can go!”

It’s transcendently brilliant, this tactic–the students offer an alternative in a high-pressure situation, a situation that no one wants, but which seems inevitable in the heat of the moment. It’s an act of mercy which, like all acts of mercy, is entirely undeserved. Watch the other officers’ surprise at this turn in the students’ rhetoric, after they had (rightfully) been chanting “Shame on you!” Watch the officers seriously consider (and eventually accept) the students’ offer.

At around 6:15-6:30 they say "you may take your weapons and our friends, and go." What is "winning" in this instance? Letting them leave, but without the people they arrested? That was probably unrealistic. Getting Pike investigated, and possibly suspended or fired? I assume he was following orders issued, formally or not, from much more powerful people, although that is by no means a justification. If the Cal Davis chancellor(see below) is made to resign, big deal, she'll just go be a chancellor or university president somewhere else. People who hold such offices tend to be careerists who jump from one city and one gig to the next every 5 or 6 years anyway. But that doesn't mean they shouldn't be made to resign or be fired. Ian Welsh recently described the OWS movement as necessary but insufficient. Maybe disciplining cops who do things like this falls under the same category.

I also wonder how many regular people are even all that aware of these kinds of things, or buy the spin they are likely to hear from establishment news sources about how the cops had no choice, etc. (I'm reminded of the bumper sticker I still see from time to time that says "I don't believe the liberal media." Which of course could mean more than one thing these days, including the traditional reactionary stance, but also a mistrust of faux progressives, or an ironic or nihilist stance.)

But I still wonder, why did they do this? I tend to assume the cops, and by extension UCD, want the students to react violently, so they may look bad, and to do this the made themselves look bad, at least to people who are open to holding such a view, and don't automatically give authority figures a pass.

But of course many do give authorities a pass, and assume they mean well in practically all instances, apart from the usual few bad apples, etc. So I wonder to what degree the Occupy movement serves as a sort of Rorschach for people, whether they're "low-information voters" or troglodytes who want to know what their favorite talk radio blowhard thinks before they decide, people who want NPR to tell them what to think, people who'd rather watch Dancing With the Stars, and so forth.

More from Johnston:

UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi released a statement last night in which she said she “deeply regretted” students’ actions yesterday, actions that “offer[ed] us no option but to ask the police to assist in their removal.” But of course you can’t regret something that someone else did, something you had no control over.

For the actions she did have control over, and will have control over in the future — the violence of her police — Katehi expressed no regret. She was, she said, “saddened.” She was “saddened to report that during this activity, 10 protestors were arrested and pepper spray was used,” and “saddened by the events that subsequently transpired to facilitate their removal.” No regret. Not even an active voice.
Lt. Pike has received a salary in excess of $100,000 from the people of California each of the last three years. More than 40% of his 2010 salary came from student fees.

Gawker:"Here's a cop, just casually pepper-spraying peaceful protesters"

2.Keiser Report: Vampire Banker Hunter (E212)

Uploaded by RussiaToday on Nov 19, 2011
Every week Max Keiser looks at all the scandal behind the financial news headlines. This week Max Keiser and co-host Stacy Herbert discuss the tiny rule changes and the Zombies behind the collapse of MF Global. Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, a Keiser-Celente 2012 bumper sticker spotted! In the second half of the show, Max Keiser interviews Barry Ritholtz about the big lie that bankers did not cause the crisis and what MF Global means to the markets.


Labels: , ,


At November 20, 2011 1:21 PM, Blogger rob payne said...

When I was young, during the Vietnam War we protested the war and the murder of innocents in Vietnam at the hands of the American goon squads. In those days half of the military was against the war though this was likely due to the draft as most of them didn’t want to be there in the first place. Today the military is voluntary – and please I hope nobody says they joined for financial reasons which is a very poor excuse for murdering — and there is very little protest over the wars that are now ensuing. While I have sympathy for the protest it remains that this seems to be about Wall Street though the wars and Wall Street are tied together. One wonders what the priorities are for Americans. They riot over money and football coaches but not war?

One could say that the Vietnam protests occurred because of the draft, a cynical view yet true but it was also about the murder of Vietnamese villagers as much as the draft if you recall the unpopularity of returning soldiers who were despised by the anti-war movement though it should be also recalled that many vets became part of the protest movement in those days. Remember that the draft left you with a choice of prison or getting your ass shot off in Vietnam. Not a great choice.

Also, the antiwar movement of my day was a result of many years of organizing that was slowly built up while the anti-Wall Street movement is more of a spur of the moment type of thing. So who knows, this is early in the OWS movement and they have a long road to travel. Since we need rely on the news media for much of the information it is clear that nothing is clear regarding the people involved. Perhaps they realize the connection between Wall Street and the wars but that is not my impression but who can say for sure especially when you consider that we don’t really know the demographics of the participants. Are they disparate groups, which is my impression or are they mostly young middle class and white? To what degree are the working classes involved? Minority groups are much more affected by the economic woes than whites, to what degree are they involved?

I’ve also read that various mayors of various cities were meeting with the Homeland Security people which means the federal government is involved in this which also means Obama is involved in this, perhaps directing local authorities in how to deal with the protests. Obama’s largest donor was Wall Street as his domestic policies reflect. Are the protesters aware of Obama’s complicity? I would guess that they would be since Mr. Change has proven to be a broken reed and a lout. The only thing clear to me is that this is far from over despite the news crowing that the occupations have been defeated. You can win battles but still lose the war. However considering the greater control now wielded by the ruling elite we cannot guess what the outcome will really be.

At November 20, 2011 6:41 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

Hi Rob,
As far as I can see there is a lot of ideological diversity among the occupiers, and while a lot of them may be disaffected ex-Obamabots, the establishment media has decided to emphasize the jobless white students, whether fairly or otherwise.

Jodi Dean, a Marxist academic from a small private college in upstate NY has been following the various currents of OWS pretty closely. Yes, she has her own ideological slant, but her ongoing discussion at her blog strikes me as pretty valuable:


At November 21, 2011 4:41 AM, Blogger Mimi said...

Love the Ritholtz definition of Congress: "a parliment of whores."

At November 21, 2011 12:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why does the disparagement "reactionary" apply only to those whom the disparager sees as "redneck" or "conservative"?

Seems to me nearly every political stake in the ground serves to react to its differents, its opposites, its variants-that-stray.

It also doesn't really carry the hefty insult that its users tend to want to stick. It's kinda like lashing someone with a wet noodle. The target tends to not care whether someone else considers him or her "reactionary" because that's pretty much an academic polisci/sociology/marxist gig. It's not the regular Joe's tongue, that word.

Which probably explains why it's used primarily toward Joe and his pals, rather than also toward Pierre, Helga, & Co on the "left."

At November 21, 2011 7:55 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

Hi all,


I like the interview segment too. I generally like Max Keiser, but sometimes his capering is a bit much, like the sound effects. I wish he'd leave the shtick out of the interviews.


I fail to see what's wrong with calling somebody a reactionary. Some people wax nostalgic about their rose-colored vision of what the US was supposedly like before the civil rights era, and I think it's reasonable to call such people reactionaries.

If the offending passage referring to reactionaries were scrubbed and polished so that the KFO-meter made a pleasing chime after it was uttered, how would it read?

At November 22, 2011 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think projecting your personal hatred of non-Donkle onto those who aren't presently or formerly in love with the Donkle and disparaging them with "reactionary" is juvenile and just another situation where your latent Donkey Tattoo shows itself.

Great, you're superior for not being a "reactionary." Congratulate yourself on joining other PoliSci "academics" in using that pathetic term as a put-down. You and Crack Blow and the SMBIVA phonies can knock back a few Mike's Hard Lemonades while reminiscing over the days when you "taught the reactionaries a lesson or two in blogland."


At November 23, 2011 12:55 AM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...


Evidently, in your view calling anybody a reactionary is impermissible, so you were giving me a chance to take it back, and since I didn't you've decided I deserve personal abuse.

Other people who felt like you might just tell me I was wrong, and say why.


Post a Comment

<< Home