Monday, November 28, 2011

UC Davis Pepper-Spray Video Shows Importance of Civilian Oversight of Police

Video of the Nov. 18 incident tells a different story. It shows a group of Occupy Davis student protesters sitting peacefully with arms interlocked while a UC Davis police officer walks back and forth, dousing them at close range with liberal amounts of pepper spray. There is an awful contemptuousness in his bearing. He could be spraying weeds in his garden or roaches in his kitchen.

The victims of this assault have described the pain in searing terms. They speak of burning skin and vomiting, of the inability to breathe, of feeling as if acid had been poured into their faces. Two cops involved with this atrocity and the chief of police have been suspended — with pay. One hopes this is preparatory to a summary dismissal.

As we grapple with this vandalism of the First Amendment, we should ask ourselves this: What if there had been no cameras on hand? What if we had only the word of the protesters and their sympathizers that this happened versus the word of authority figures that it did not? Is it so hard to imagine the students' claims being dismissed, the media attention being a fraction of what it is, the public's outrage falling along predictable ideological lines and these cops getting a walk?

Read on...

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