UC Davis Protests

at 12:35 AM

The officers had helmets, batons, radios, gloves, guns, tasers and, of course, oleoresin capsaisin, or OC spray, commonly known as pepper spray.

They had not only MK-4 canisters of the stinging, sometimes-lethal substance, but also MK-9 canisters (a stream, not a spray) for which there was no training or authorization at the UC Davis campus.

The officers cited fear as their reason for unleashing potentially deadly force on seated, non-resisting, nonviolent students armed only with their principles, their discipline and their solidarity, and through viral video, the world watched what the independent Reynoso report now confirms was an unjustified abuse of authority.

One thing should be clear: if the Davis students had been other than nonviolent, this critical report would have been written very differently.

If the Davis Occupy protesters had been other than nonviolent, we would not have what we have now: the report's clear call to revisit appropriate, system-wide levels of oversight and review and reevaluate aspects of the Police Officers' Bill of Rights which the report quotes as appearing to "limit independent public review of police conduct..."

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The report goes on to note that "when information necessary to understand and evaluate police conduct is unavailable to the public, the public has less confidence in the police and the police cannot perform their duty without public confidence."

Thanks to the nonviolence of the UC Davis Occupy movement, we as a community have a priceless opportunity to restore the right to gather safely, nonviolently, to petition the government for a redress of grievances, a right which cannot exist when officers' sense of insecurity, despite all their weaponry, is allowed to override the First Amendment.

With a Perspective, I'm Carol Denney.

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Carol Denney is a writer, musician and community activist living in Berkeley.

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