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The Turning Point: The Moral Example of UC Davis Students – Psychology Today

21 Nov

World Wide Mind

The Coming Integration of Humanity, Machines, and the Internet
by Michael Chorost, Ph.D.
If America needs a moral turning point, this is it.
Published on November 19, 2011 by Michael Chorost, Ph.D. in World Wide Mind

The video is shocking. (See it here.) A line of students sits on the ground, heads bowed. A police officer dressed in riot gear walks up to them, holding a pepper spray gun. He theatrically raises his arm, as if about to carry out an execution, and presses the trigger. A foul-looking orange spray shoots out.

Methodically, deliberately, he walks to the end of the line, saturating each student. He might as well be casually spraying bug spray. When he reaches the end he begins walking back in the other direction, spraying each of them again. The students huddle in obvious pain. People in the crowd nearby gasp in shock and began chanting, “Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you!”

This event is powerfully symbolic. It is about contempt from those in power and the wanton use of force against the powerless.

We have seen similar things over and over again in the past few years. We have seen it in banks lobbying for public handouts and then denying relief to millions of exploited homeowners. We have seen it in tax breaks and bonuses for the rich while millions of Americans are out of work. We have seen it in church and university officers abusing children and then covering it up. We have seen it in the censorship of climate science performed in the public interest. We have seen it in the absurd declaration that corporations are “people” and entitled to spend billions of dollars to elect representatives that they will then own. We have seen it everywhere we turn.

The police officer is Congress. Our banks. Our clerics.

The students are us.

If I had to sum up the attitude of America’s governing classes in one word, I would say: contempt.

We are seeing the beginning of a worldwide movement to fight for dignity and intelligent, collective governance. It is remarkable, the parallels between what we see in Tunisia, in Cairo, in Rome, in Zucotti Park, in Oakland, California, and now at UC Davis.

It is time for UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi to resign. I simply cannot fathom a university administrator bringing riot police onto campus to assault peacefully demonstrating students. At the most, campus police could have simply carried them away. In her blog, Duke prof (and former teacher of mine) Cathy Davidson deftly dissects the craven claim that tent camps present “health and safety concerns.” And Bob Ostertag, a UC Davis prof, shows how the administration lost its moral compass.

People say that the Occupy movement has not been clear in its demands. I would say that their demands could not be more obvious.

They are already being articulated everywhere: the New York Times, the Huffington Post,, the New Yorker. They are full of luminous writers: Nicholas Kristof. Paul Krugman. Gail Collins. Hendrik Herztberg. George Packer. Steve Coll, Bill McKibben. Dozens of intelligent books have appeared on the shelves in the past few years, examining the country’s problems and offering thoughtful proposals for reform.

They want a fairer tax system. They want a sane energy policy that addresses climate change and searches for cleaner ways to power our civilization. They want a government that is not wholly owned by the rich. They want access to justice and education. They want a reasonable hope of getting and keeping a job that gives them a living wage and the ability to invest for the future.

They want a rational health care system that they can afford. They want government policy that is driven by thoughtful attention to rational research, not ideology. They want a transparent government that holds the powerful accountable. They want a government that understands the importance of investing now in human capital and infrastructure.

The obstacles to reform seem overwhelming. The country’s far right has systematically obstructed every attempt to change things for the better. The electorate seems hopelessly divided. For decades, it has voted to create legislative deadlock. Despite the overwhelming failure of the Bush administration, half of the country has not grasped how utterly the Republican philosophy of governance has been discredited. The Democrats are uncoordinated and have no coherent philosophy at all. In our Internet age, the media are so fragmented that no single idea can seem to hold the country’s attention for long. America has never seemed more divided and paralyzed in living memory.

Nonetheless, America’s two most famous recent political movements – the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street – have taught us several things. It is possible to get the country’s attention. And getting its attention is equivalent to setting its agenda.

The Tea Party, which is now fading fast, was always a faux movement, funded by secretive billionaires and so aggressively, laughably ignorant that neither it nor its candidates could retain credibility for long.

But Occupy Wall Street is much more broadly based. It has a large and powerful set of progressive ideas to draw upon. And it is getting the country’s attention.

What Occupy Wall Street needs to do is set a moral example. Moral examples move people to action. I am very proud of the students at UC Davis, both the ones who remained seated, heads down, and the ones in the crowd surrounding them. They vastly outnumbered the police officers. They could have torn them apart. I have no doubt that many of them wanted to. I wanted to.

But, as Gandhi and Martin Luther King so well understood, nonviolent resistance is extraordinarily powerful. It shows who holds the moral high ground. It reveals the thugs and bullies in high places for who they are. It creates sympathy and evokes principled action. It clears the way for thoughtful men and women of conscience and character to speak out for rational courses of action.

I think we have just reached a turning point.


Michael Chorost is the author of REBUILT: HOW BECOMING PART COMPUTER MADE ME MORE HUMAN, a memoir of going deaf and getting a cochlear implant, and WORLD WIDE MIND, an exploration of how future technologies could transform how we communicate. Dr. Chorost freelances for Wired, New Scientist, and other publications, and frequently lectures on college campuses. Website: Follow me on Twitter @MikeChorost.


UC Davis officers placed on leave after pepper spray incident

21 Nov

Paid leave? That’ll teach ’em! Why not throw in a coupla tickets to the Bahamas while they’re at it? You know, for their safety

UC Davis officers placed on leave after pepper spray incident

November 20, 2011 | 12:47 pm

Two UC Davis campus police officers have been placed on paid administrative leave over their controversial use of pepper spray on student protesters, university officials announced Sunday.

A video that showed an officer dousing a group of students who were huddled on the ground Friday quickly went viral on the Internet, drawing outrage and calls for the chancellor’s resignation.

“I spoke with students this weekend, and I feel their outrage,” UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi said in a statement. “I am deeply saddened that this happened on our campus, and as chancellor, I take full responsibility for the incident. However, I pledge to take the actions needed to ensure that this does not happen again.”

PHOTOS: Occupy protests

UC Davis spokeswoman Claudia Morain said the two officers placed on leave were the only two officers they  were able to identify as having deployed pepper spray after reviewing multiple videos of the events.

The officers, whose names were not released, will remain on paid leave indefinitely.

Katehi initially did not criticize police, but on Saturday said she would convene a task force to look into the incident. On Sunday, she said the faculty, students and staff who will serve on the task force will be chosen immediately and that they will have a 30-day deadline to complete their report.

FULL COVERAGE: Occupy protests around the nation

Police said officers were trying to get out of the protest area when they used the pepper spray.

UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza told reporters Saturday that the decision to use the pepper spray was made at the scene. “The students had encircled the officers,” she said. “They needed to exit. They were looking to leave but were unable to get out.”

But the school said in a statement, “Videos taken during Friday’s arrests showed that the two officers used pepper spray on peacefully seated students.”

The pepper spray incident occurred Friday as police were attempting to clear an overnight encampment of 25 tents associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement. Ten protesters were arrested on misdemeanor charges of unlawful assembly and failure to disperse. Eleven were treated for the effects of pepper spray, including two who were taken to an area hospital. The students were treated and released.


UC Davis police defend use of pepper spray on Occupy protesters

— Abby Sewell

UC Davis student hurt by pepper spray leads peaceful shaming of Chancellor

21 Nov

One of the pepper spray victims leads the silent protest against Chancellor Katehi (UC Davis). What an eerie, effective and appropriate tactical response to an atrocious abuse of authority.

Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi – occupy california

20 Nov

Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi


18 November 2011

Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

Linda P.B. Katehi,

I am a junior faculty member at UC Davis. I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, and I teach in the Program in Critical Theory and in Science & Technology Studies. I have a strong record of research, teaching, and service. I am currently a Board Member of the Davis Faculty Association. I have also taken an active role in supporting the student movement to defend public education on our campus and throughout the UC system. In a word: I am the sort of young faculty member, like many of my colleagues, this campus needs. I am an asset to the University of California at Davis.

You are not.

I write to you and to my colleagues for three reasons:

1) to express my outrage at the police brutality which occurred against students engaged in peaceful protest on the UC Davis campus today

2) to hold you accountable for this police brutality

3) to demand your immediate resignation

Today you ordered police onto our campus to clear student protesters from the quad. These were protesters who participated in a rally speaking out against tuition increases and police brutality on UC campuses on Tuesday—a rally that I organized, and which was endorsed by the Davis Faculty Association. These students attended that rally in response to a call for solidarity from students and faculty who were bludgeoned with batons, hospitalized, and arrested at UC Berkeley last week. In the highest tradition of non-violent civil disobedience, those protesters had linked arms and held their ground in defense of tents they set up beside Sproul Hall. In a gesture of solidarity with those students and faculty, and in solidarity with the national Occupy movement, students at UC Davis set up tents on the main quad. When you ordered police outfitted with riot helmets, brandishing batons and teargas guns to remove their tents today, those students sat down on the ground in a circle and linked arms to protect them.

What happened next?

Without any provocation whatsoever, other than the bodies of these students sitting where they were on the ground, with their arms linked, police pepper-sprayed students. Students remained on the ground, now writhing in pain, with their arms linked.

What happened next?

Police used batons to try to push the students apart. Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood.

This is what happened. You are responsible for it.

You are responsible for it because this is what happens when UC Chancellors order police onto our campuses to disperse peaceful protesters through the use of force: students get hurt. Faculty get hurt. One of the most inspiring things (inspiring for those of us who care about students who assert their rights to free speech and peaceful assembly) about the demonstration in Berkeley on November 9 is that UC Berkeley faculty stood together with students, their arms linked together. Associate Professor of English Celeste Langan was grabbed by her hair, thrown on the ground, and arrested. Associate Professor Geoffrey O’Brien was injured by baton blows. Professor Robert Hass, former Poet Laureate of the United States, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner, was also struck with a baton. These faculty stood together with students in solidarity, and they too were beaten and arrested by the police. In writing this letter, I stand together with those faculty and with the students they supported.

One week after this happened at UC Berkeley, you ordered police to clear tents from the quad at UC Davis. When students responded in the same way—linking arms and holding their ground—police also responded in the same way: with violent force. The fact is: the administration of UC campuses systematically uses police brutality to terrorize students and faculty, to crush political dissent on our campuses, and to suppress free speech and peaceful assembly. Many people know this. Many more people are learning it very quickly.

You are responsible for the police violence directed against students on the UC Davis quad on November 18, 2011. As I said, I am writing to hold you responsible and to demand your immediate resignation on these grounds.

On Wednesday November 16, you issued a letter by email to the campus community. In this letter, you discussed a hate crime which occurred at UC Davis on Sunday November 13. In this letter, you express concern about the safety of our students. You write, “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.” You write, “while these are turbulent economic times, as a campus community, we must all be committed to a safe, welcoming environment that advances our efforts to diversity and excellence at UC Davis.”

I will leave it to my colleagues and every reader of this letter to decide what poses a greater threat to “a safe and inviting space for all our students” or “a safe, welcoming environment” at UC Davis: 1) Setting up tents on the quad in solidarity with faculty and students brutalized by police at UC Berkeley? or 2) Sending in riot police to disperse students with batons, pepper-spray, and tear-gas guns, while those students sit peacefully on the ground with their arms linked? Is this what you have in mind when you refer to creating “a safe and inviting space?” Is this what you have in mind when you express commitment to “a safe, welcoming environment?”

I am writing to tell you in no uncertain terms that there must be space for protest on our campus. There must be space for political dissent on our campus. There must be space for civil disobedience on our campus. There must be space for students to assert their right to decide on the form of their protest, their dissent, and their civil disobedience—including the simple act of setting up tents in solidarity with other students who have done so. There must be space for protest and dissent, especially, when the object of protest and dissent is police brutality itself. You may not order police to forcefully disperse student protesters peacefully protesting police brutality. You may not do so. It is not an option available to you as the Chancellor of a UC campus. That is why I am calling for your immediate resignation.

Your words express concern for the safety of our students. Youractions express no concern whatsoever for the safety of our students. I deduce from this discrepancy that you are not, in fact, concerned about the safety of our students. Your actions directly threaten the safety of our students. And I want you to know that this is clear. It is clear to anyone who reads your campus emails concerning our “Principles of Community” and who also takes the time to inform themselves about your actions. You should bear in mind that when you send emails to the UC Davis community, you address a body of faculty and students who are well trained to see through rhetoric that evinces care for students while implicitly threatening them. I see through your rhetoric very clearly. You also write to a campus community that knows how to speak truth to power. That is what I am doing.

I call for your resignation because you are unfit to do your job. You are unfit to ensure the safety of students at UC Davis. In fact: you are the primary threat to the safety of students at UC Davis. As such, I call upon you to resign immediately.


Nathan Brown
Assistant Professor
Department of English
Program in Critical Theory
University of California at Davis

(via BicycleBarricade)


Police pepper spraying and arresting students at UC Davis

20 Nov

Raw: UC Davis Press Conference On Clash With Protesters

20 Nov

UC Davis Chancellor Katehi and Police Chief Spicuzza spoke at a press conference Saturday after students were pepper sprayed at an encampment the day before.

via Raw: UC Davis Press Conference On Clash With Protesters.

Police pepper spray students at Occupy UC Davis, chancellor called on to resign – DAILY KOS

20 Nov

FRI NOV 18, 2011 AT 08:28 PM PST

Police pepper spray students at Occupy UC Davis, chancellor called on to resign


Words fail.

From Linda P.B. Katehi Chancellor of UC DavisThe group did not respond to requests from administration and campus police to comply with campus rules that exist to protect the health and safety of our campus community. The group was informed in writing this morning that the encampment violated regulations designed to protect the health and safety of students, staff and faculty.  The group was further informed that if they did not dismantle the encampment, it would have to be removed.

Following our requests, several of the group chose to dismantle their tents this afternoon and we are grateful for their actions.  However a number of protestors refused our warning, offering us no option but to ask the police to assist in their removal.  We are saddened to report that during this activity, 10 protestors were arrested and pepper spray was used.  We will be reviewing the details of the incident.

We appreciate and strongly defend the rights of all our students, faculty and staff to robust and respectful dialogue as a fundamental tenet of our great academic institution.  At the same time, we have a responsibility to our entire campus community, including the parents who have entrusted their students to us, to ensure that all can live, learn and work in a safe and secure environment.  We were aware that some of those involved in the recent demonstrations on campus were not members of the UC Davis community and this required us to be even more vigilant about the safety of our students, faculty and staff.  We take this responsibility very seriously.

Read The Full Statement Here:…

Petition for the Chancellor to resign:…

(More images and videos below the fold)


From RogerFox: The Face of Lt John Pike:

If you have been attacked and need to file a formal complaint against a UC Davis Police officer then head here:…

From the comments of mahakali overdrive:

Prof. Nathan Brown. He details the brutality and calls for the Chancellor’s resignation.A short excerpt from one of the most powerful letters that I’ve ever read.


 Police used batons to try to push the students apart. Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood.

The horror. The police officer in the video holds up the pepper spray in an act of victory before he maliciously attacks a group of students sitting peacefully.  In what world is it ok to pepper spray students and then arrest them.

From the Sacramento Bee

DAVIS, Calif. — Police at the University of California, Davis have dismantled an Occupy encampment on campus and arrested 10 protesters.UC Davis officials say eight men and two women were taken into custody Friday afternoon. Nine of them were students.

Student activists pitched more than a dozen tents on the UC Davis Quad on Thursday in defiance of a campus ban on camping.

Read more:…

In what country do we live in? I hope that officer feels the shame of his actions and the actions of the police on this day.

TheOther99 Coverage by OllieGarkey

They were pepper sprayed because they were in defiance of a campus ban on camping? Are you kidding me? This is the police procedure they have in place to deal with students using their first amendment right to peacefully assemble??

KCRA article
Police came and brutalized them and tore their tents down and all that stuff. It was really scary. It felt like there was anarchy everywhere,” said student Hisham Alihbob.Read more:…

Eileen B
California Penal Code Section 12403.7 (a) (8)

(g) Any person who uses tear gas or tear gas weapons except in self-defense is guilty of a public offense and is punishable byimprisonment in a state prison for 16 months, or two or three years or in a county jail not to exceed one year or by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment, except that, if the use is against a peace officer, as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2, engaged in the performance of his or her official duties and the person committing the offense knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a peace officer, the offense is punishable by imprisonment in a state prison for 16 months or two or three years or by a fine of one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment.

From Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle

Joshua Holland(of Alternet) …the direct contact information for that thug cop is as follows:Lt. John Pike.


Apparently the local paper out there(The Davis Enterprise) has already outed the cop.  Sadly, I’d get a link to that but it appears we crashed their site.

Please be respectful in your condemnation of this act of brutality.

MoT just tweeted a little while ago…

You can follow @OccupyDavis on twitter – it is active now.