*Police Should Condemn, Not Defend, Excessive Use of Force at UC Davis
By E.D. Kain, Forbes
…In other words, one reason that police should hold themselves to a higher standard is to protect themselves from backlash. This is a problem I’ve written about in regards to the War on Drugs. When excessive force is used, or no-knock raids lead to drug busts at the wrong house, or family pets are killed, all of this leads to a deficit of public trust.
Several people have emailed me angrily to insist that I support lawlessness and don’t understand the constitution. I do not support lawlessness, but I especially do not support it if it is the police themselves who are acting in a lawless manner. I hold the police to a higher standard. I think we have to appreciate dissent for what it is, and we have to appreciate police for the difficult job they do. The balance at any protest between free speech and law and order is going to be tenuous. It is incumbent on the protesters and law enforcement to keep the peace.
In any case, there have been plenty of reports of bad behavior on the parts of Occupy protesters, but none of those reports make incidents like the actions of the police at UC Davis okay. Two wrongs, as the saying goes, do not make a right. Stopping criminal behavior is one thing. Spraying peaceful protesters, even if they won’t move, is quite another.
UC Davis is forming a task force to investigate Friday’s events. The University Chancellor has issued a statement as well.
Video of UC Davis police spraying protesters. [At Link]
*New York Churches Shelter Occupy Protesters, Now Monitored by New York Police
By Tanya Somander, Think Progress
…According to church officials, two police officers (one later identified as belonging to the intelligence division) asked to use the bathroom but instead “entered the sanctuary, one remaining near the door while the other advanced down the aisle, apparently counting the demonstrators in the pews.” Then, one officer went downstairs to a homeless women’s shelter and “asked for information about who was sleeping there” without identifying himself or showing his badge. The church’s Rev. James Karpen called the police actions “invasive”:
“It is disconcerting that they would actually enter the sanctuary,” said the Rev. James Karpen, known as Reverend K, senior pastor of the United Methodist Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, on West 86th Street. “Here we had offered hospitality and safety, which is our business as a church; it just felt invasive.” [...]
“They are welcome to come in if they just say who they are,” Mr. Karpen said.“We have never had that kind of issue with the police before. Usually, they are very respectful of church-state issues.”
Church officials said two other police intelligence officers visited earlier in the day, claiming they were following up on “an anonymous report of vandalism,” which, according to the church, had not taken place. The officers warned associate Pastor Siobhan Sargent that they did not want anything to happen to the church and that that was a “risk” with the protesters sleeping there. Sargent replied, “that’s what the church is for.”
*The Roots of the UC-Davis Pepper Spraying
By Glenn Greenwald
…(1) Despite all the rights of free speech and assembly flamboyantly guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, the reality is that punishing the exercise of those rights with police force and state violence has been the reflexive response in America for quite some time. As Franke-Ruta put it, “America has a very long history of protests that meet with excessive or violent response, most vividly recorded in the second half of the 20th century.” Digby yesterday recounted a similar though even worse incident aimed at environmental protesters.
The intent and effect of such abuse is that it renders those guaranteed freedoms meaningless. If a population becomes bullied or intimidated out of exercising rights offered on paper, those rights effectively cease to exist. Every time the citizenry watches peaceful protesters getting pepper-sprayed — or hears that an Occupy protester suffered brain damage and almost died after being shot in the skull with a rubber bullet — many become increasingly fearful of participating in this citizen movement, and also become fearful in general of exercising their rights in a way that is bothersome or threatening to those in power. That’s a natural response, and it’s exactly what the climate of fear imposed by all abusive police state actions is intended to achieve: to coerce citizens to “decide” on their own to be passive and compliant — to refrain from exercising their rights — out of fear of what will happen if they don’t.
The genius of this approach is how insidious its effects are: because the rights continue to be offered on paper, the citizenry continues to believe it is free. They believe that they are free to do everything they choose to do, because they have been “persuaded” — through fear and intimidation — to passively accept the status quo. As Rosa Luxemburg so perfectly put it: “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.” Someone who sits at home and never protests or effectively challenges power factions will not realize that their rights of speech and assembly have been effectively eroded because they never seek to exercise those rights; it’s only when we see steadfast, courageous resistance from the likes of these UC-Davis students is this erosion of rights manifest.
Pervasive police abuses and intimidation tactics applied to peaceful protesters — pepper-spray, assault rifles, tasers, tear gas and the rest — not only harm their victims but also the relationship of the citizenry to the government and the set of core political rights. Implanting fear of authorities in the heart of the citizenry is a far more effective means of tyranny than overtly denying rights. That’s exactly what incidents like this are intended to achieve. Overzealous prosecution of those who engage in peaceful political protest (which we’ve seen and more of over the last several years) as well as rampant secrecy and the sprawling Surveillance State are the close cousins of excessive police force in both intent and effect: they are all about deterring meaningful challenges to those in power through the exercise of basic rights. Rights are so much more effectively destroyed by bullying a citizenry out of wanting to exercise them than any other means.
*Militarization of Campus Police
By Bob Ostertag, Huffington Post
…Just six years ago, tuition at the University of California was $5357. Tuition is currently $12,192. According to current proposals, it will be $22,068 by 2015-2016. We have discussed this in my classes, and about one third of my students report that their families would likely have to pull them out of school at the new tuition. It is not a happy moment when the students look around the room and see who it is that will disappear from campus. These are young people who, like college students everywhere and at all times, form some of the deepest friendships they will have in their lives.
This is what motivates students who have never taken part in any sort of social protest to “occupy” the campus quad. And indeed, there were students who were attacked with chemical agents by robocops who were engaging in their first civic protest.
Since the video of the assault has gone viral, I will assume that most of you have seen the shocking footage. Let’s take a look at the equally outrageous explanations and justifications that have come from UC Davis authorities.
UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi sent a letter to the university last night. Chancellor Katehi tells us that:
The group was informed in writing… that if they did not dismantle the encampment, it would have to be removed… However a number of protestors refused our warning, offering us no option but to ask the police to assist in their removal.
No other options? The list of options is endless. To begin with, the chancellor could have thanked them for their sense of civic duty. The occupation could have been turned into a teach-in on the role of public education in this country. There could have been a call for professors to hold classes on the quad. The list of “other options” is endless.
Chancellor Katehi asserts that “the encampment raised serious health and safety concerns.” Really? Twenty tents on the quad “raised serious health and safety concerns?” Has the chancellor been to a frat party lately? Or a football game? Talk about “serious health and safety concerns.”
How about this for another option: three years ago there was a very similar occupation of the quad at Columbia University in New York City by students protesting the way the expansion of the university was displacing residents in the neighborhood. There was a core group of twenty or thirty students there around the clock. At the high points there were 200-300. The administration met with the students and held serious discussions about their concerns. And after a couple of weeks the protest had run its course and the students took the tents down. The most severe action that was even contemplated on the part of the university was to expel students who were hunger striking, under a rule that allows the school to expel students who are considered a threat to themselves. But no one was actually expelled.
Remember when universities used to expel students instead of spray them with chemical agents?
*Revealed: The Secret $850,000 Plan by Lobbyists to Undermine Occupy Wall Street
By Daily Mail Reporter, Daily Mail
…The secret proposal has been revealed in a memo obtained by the MSNBC program ‘Up with Chris Hayes’.
The proposal was written on the letterhead of the lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford (CLGC) and addressed to one of its clients, the American Bankers Association (ABA), reports MSNBC.
CLGC’s memo proposes that the ABA pay CLGC $850,000 to conduct ‘opposition research’ on Occupy Wall Street in order to construct ‘negative narratives’ about the protests and allied politicians.
The memo also states that Democratic victories in 2012 would be detrimental for Wall Street and names specific races in which it says Wall Street would benefit by electing Republicans instead, the report says.
According to the memo, if Democrats embrace OWS, ‘This would mean more than just short-term political discomfort for Wall Street. ‘It has the potential to have very long-lasting political, policy and financial impacts on the companies in the center of the bullseye.’
The memo also suggests that Democratic victories in 2012 should not be the ABA’s biggest concern. “… (T)he bigger concern,” the memo says,‘should be that Republicans will no longer defend Wall Street companies.’
Two of the memo’s authors, partners Sam Geduldig and Jay Cranford, previously worked for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Geduldig joined CLGC before Boehner became speaker; Cranford joined CLGC this year after serving as the speaker’s assistant for policy.
A third partner, Steve Clark, is reportedly close with Boehner, according to a story by Roll Call that CLGC features on its website. The memo indicates that CLGC would research who has contributed financial backing to OWS, noting that, ‘Media reports have speculated about associations with George Soros and others.’
‘It will be vital,’ the memo says, ‘to understand who is funding it and what their backgrounds and motives are. If we can show that they have the same cynical motivation as a political opponent it will undermine their credibility in a profound way.’
*Failure is Good
By Paul Krugman, New York Times
…Why was the supercommittee doomed to fail? Mainly because the gulf between our two major political parties is so wide. Republicans and Democrats don’t just have different priorities; they live in different intellectual and moral universes.
In Democrat-world, up is up and down is down. Raising taxes increases revenue, and cutting spending while the economy is still depressed reduces employment. But in Republican-world, down is up. The way to increase revenue is to cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy, and slashing government spending is a job-creation strategy. Try getting a leading Republican to admit that the Bush tax cuts increased the deficit or that sharp cuts in government spending (except on the military) would hurt the economic recovery.
Moreover, the parties have sharply different views of what constitutes economic justice.
Democrats see social insurance programs, from Social Security to food stamps, as serving the moral imperative of providing basic security to our fellow citizens and helping those in need.
Republicans have a totally different view. They may soft-pedal that view in public — in last year’s elections, they even managed to pose as defenders of Medicare — but, in private, they view the welfare state as immoral, a matter of forcing citizens at gunpoint to hand their money over to other people. By creating Social Security, declared Rick Perry in his book “Fed Up!”, F.D.R. was “violently tossing aside any respect for our founding principles.” Does anyone doubt that he was speaking for many in his party?
So the supercommittee brought together legislators who disagree completely both about how the world works and about the proper role of government. Why did anyone think this would work?
Well, maybe the idea was that the parties would compromise out of fear that there would be a political price for seeming intransigent. But this could only happen if the news media were willing to point out who is really refusing to compromise. And they aren’t. If and when the supercommittee fails, virtually all news reports will be he-said, she-said, quoting Democrats who blame Republicans and vice versa without ever explaining the truth.
Oh, and let me give a special shout-out to “centrist” pundits who won’t admit that President Obama has already given them what they want. The dialogue seems to go like this. Pundit: “Why won’t the president come out for a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes?” Mr. Obama: “I support a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes.” Pundit: “Why won’t the president come out for a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes?”
You see, admitting that one side is willing to make concessions, while the other isn’t, would tarnish one’s centrist credentials. And the result is that the G.O.P. pays no price for refusing to give an inch.
So the supercommittee will fail — and that’s good.
For one thing, history tells us that the Republican Party would renege on its side of any deal as soon as it got the chance. Remember, the U.S. fiscal outlook was pretty good in 2000, but, as soon as Republicans gained control of the White House, they squandered the surplus on tax cuts and unfunded wars. So any deal reached now would, in practice, be nothing more than a deal to slash Social Security and Medicare, with no lasting improvement in the deficit.