This morning I received an email from UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, attempting to explain why student protestors there were casually assaulted by police with pepper spray. Here is my response:
I do not accept your explanation that the actions the police took against peaceful protesters at UC Davis was necessary to protect the health and safety of the students. In fact, I find the statement offensive, disingenuous and reeking, like three-day-old fish in the trash can, of the public relations office.
As a parent of a UC Davis student, I fully support him and all students, to peacefully engage in their right to free speech and assembly. As Henry David Thoreau said in his essay, “Civil Disobedience:” All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable.
Frankly, I do not care what “regulations” the students were violating. UC Davis occupies public land and students have a right to assemble there – in tents, in cardboard boxes, or in university buildings. There is absolutely no excuse for the police to use pepper spray on students who are doing nothing but sitting on public property and justly protesting a political system that has been corrupted by money and corporate interests.
The University should be a place that welcomes dissent and discussion. I was a college student during the time of the Kent State shooting. It would be a tragic mistake to continue to allow police to treat students like criminals: it will only escalate the violence.
The police presence at protests should be no different than it is at an Independence Day parade: visible, yet benign.
I expect better from you and the University of California.