November 19, 2011

Confrontation with police at UC Davis

In a further example of the growth of paramilitary practices in the US, watch a policeman walk up and down a line of sitting students at Occupy UC Davis and squirt pepper spray directly into their faces, as if they were a row of weeds.

After some initial confusion, the other students react, chanting "Shame on you!" and massing and surrounding the police and advancing on them as they slowly back away. At some point, using the effective 'open mic' technique that has become ubiquitous as a result of the Occupy movement, the students offer the police the chance to take their weapons and leave, which they do amidst chants of "You can go!", averting further confrontation.

It is clear from the coordinated efforts to forcibly uproot the Occupy movement that the oligarchy views it as a threat, not major one at the moment, but with the potential to become so if not crushed quickly. Chris Hayes uncovers a story in which a lobbying group warns the American Bankers Association of the danger and offers to help them counter the movement.


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Here is the real issue, at what point does it change from a protest to a situation where nothing is being accomplished, no one is paying attention and it becomes a commune of unemployed Americans? These people need to get organized. With the right organization they could actually grow in size and weild some influence. Right now they are just standing around and that is not helping anyone.

Joe Ventura

Writer for Lap Band Website Blog

Posted by Joe Ventura on November 19, 2011 04:03 PM

I sympathize with the OWS. However if laws are being broken the police are duty-bound to take action. However, I grant that some members of the police maybe over-reacting. The question is are the members of the QWS breaking the law and resisting arrest. If that's the case The mayor and the police have every right to take action. A few days ago the OWS tried to prevent the NYSE from opening. This obviously cannot be tolerated. There's a lot of talk about Obama and the Democrats. Mano you said on this blog a that Democrat suits the olgarchy better than a Republican. I think that the Democrats should put up a candidate to fight Obama for the Democratic nomination. Has the date past? He has been a complete, unmitigated disaster and a bare faced liar. In the meantime the Ows must get themselves organized. There is another factor, you fail to recognize. Is Iran or China behind the OWS? America is great at doing this in other countries. Maybe the roles are reversed. With social media it's a cinch. I still don't know what the OWS wants. Do they want be in the 5% instead of the 1%. Frankly, I don't know where he 1% came from. Mano are you in the 1% or the 99%? If you are in the 1% you may have give away your money to join the 1%.

Posted by Manik on November 20, 2011 09:15 AM


I am nowhere close to the 1% but as I have said many times before, I think that even I am taxed far too little. There are services that a government needs to provide for its people and that requires money and I am perfectly willing to pay more to provide them. What has happened in the US is that people have been persuaded that only the military is worth being taxed for.

Posted by Mano on November 20, 2011 10:02 AM

Based on what you can see in the video, 'Shame on you' was an appropriate and effective chant. What strikes me is that the most of the police seemed to actually understand the message and want to end the confrontation, too (perhaps thanks as much to the ubiquitous cameras as to the shameful actions of the pepperspraer). I hope that people later congratulated the officers for making the right decision.

I think drawing parallels to paramilitarization is the correct language to use in situations like this. Notice the formation the riot-police adopt at the end of the video? It's not a coincidence that reporters often refer to a group of riot plice as a "phalanx". Actually, once the riot shields come out it evokes the roman testudo formation to me. They're arrayed for battle, no doubt about it.

In the battle of language and icons--which is what this comes down to--I think that protesters should rightly tap into this imagery. Police who start acting like paramilitary troops should be consistently compared to the Praetorian Guard. Historically the analogy is weak, but iconographically it is very relevant. It is important to remind our police who they resemble when they act against their own citizens at the beck and call of the aristocrats and elite.

Let's make some SPQR signs!

Posted by Jared A on November 20, 2011 10:35 AM

"some members of the police *may* be overreacting"? In what alternate universe is pepper-spraying a row of protesters sitting on the ground not police brutality? If the protesters were breaking the law and needed to be arrested, it could have easily been accomplished (or at least attempted) without gassing them at close range *as a first step*.

It appears that the police had no real interest in actually arresting anyone, because once the protesters were subdued, the police did nothing more. The actions of the police in this case appear to be city-sanctioned bullying or battery.

Posted by Greg Priddy on November 20, 2011 10:50 AM

My gosh...I wouldn't want to replay the same video again, cause it's a violation of human or civil right in any way you look at it. They were sitting on the ground, which is a passive protest form. I am not even mentioning any "attacks" on the police, weapons or anything else that could have provoked the pepper spray. But this is just awful. Spraying them as if they were weeds or some kind of insects... I just want to believe that this crazy and mindless action was done just because someone from the police department started his morning from the wrong foot or had some psychological issues. This form of dealing with occupy movement is absolutely unacceptable in any way and I just hope it was the police staff issue and not the regular policy against the movement.

Posted by Tom on November 21, 2011 08:10 AM

The spraying reminded me of an execution-style killing. Joe, I think the protests have achieved something. As much as I hate the term, they have raised awareness about income inequality and the gov't collusion in making it so. The occupiers do suffer from an image problem, though. Many people see them as willfully unemployed, rich college kids, idle hippies, or simply lazy. Even though organization is the antithsis of what they stand for, I think it is time to get organized.

I am surprised, though, that no celebrities seem to have offered their support.

Posted by Scott on November 21, 2011 04:02 PM