This past Saturday protesters sitting on the ground supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement on the campus of the University of California, Davis, collectively took a face full of pepper spray at close range from an officer in riot gear in an incident that was captured on cellphone video and spread virally across the Internet.
This afternoon, I watched this video replayed and as I watched it I began to think about various past attacks on suffragettes, civil rights marchers,
marchers for the Equal Rights Amendment and advocates for LGBT rights. It seems to me that despite our growing sophistication in so many areas of life, we continue to have problems permitting our fellow citizens from exercising their rights to protest social wrongs.
Have we not learned any lessons from the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago? I am fearing we have not.
With regards to this most egregious event in California, UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi described the video images as “chilling” and said she was forming a task force to investigate the actions of campus police.
In the California video an officer dispassionately pepper-sprays a line of several sitting protesters who flinch and cover their faces but remain passive with their arms interlocked as onlookers shriek and scream out for the officer to stop.
It is my understanding that each of the officers involved, along with their supervisor have been suspended. I wonder if it is with or without pay? Nevertheless, they should all be dismissed.
I had hoped that acts of brutality by law enforcement officers was part of a sad chapter in a closed book.
I may be wrong.