Controversy over police officers pepper-spraying students during a peaceful tuition hike protest at UC Davis took over the Internet last week.
After the videos documenting the incident went viral, there have been over 130,000 social media mentions around the event, which has caused an uproar beyond the college campus.
The launch of the "pepper spray meme" including one of the police officers, Lt. John Pike, being placed strategically in photos and iconic art, reignited energy around the movement, even for those who might have had no original support or care for the cause. A petition on White House's We The People posted Monday addressing police violence against protestors also quickly accrued over 24,000 signatures in less than 24 hours. The issue has even created a broader discussion about the militarization of campus police, or might I add, any domestic police force. 13 news organizations recently lodged complaints to New York City officials for the police treatment of journalists covering the protests in OWS headquarters, Zuccotti Park, specifically during a raid on November 15th.
Many UC Davis staff were immediately vocal about urging Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi to resign. Assistant Professor Nathan Brown was one of those voices whose blog post, Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, quickly gained attention online. Brown joined me via Skype to share his reactions to the incident. "There's a really brazen disregard for the lives of our students by chancellors in the UC system sending in riot police to disperse peaceful protests," Brown said. Watch the rest of the video interview below:
So how does he think police should have responded?
"That's a question of how we think of civil disobedience and how we think about whom the law is supposed to protect. In my view and I think the view of any reasonable viewer of that video, there is absolutely no reason for those police to touch those demonstrators at all. The only reason they have to is because the Chancellor has ordered them to and in fact the police have already cleared away the tents and the encampment in the situation. Those are simply people sitting on the ground with their arms linked."
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