Punished for being peaceful

The recent incident at UC Davis was uncalled for

At the University of California-Davis, a group of students peacefully protesting for the Occupy Wall Street movement were pepper sprayed by campus police.

In recent weeks, a video surfaced of the incident taking place – although police had warned the protestors to remove the tents before they took action, pepper spraying them was the wrong way to handle the situation.

Those college students had every right to protest on their campus, and the authorities had no reason to treat them as they did. Since the movement began, protestors have been pepper sprayed by police as a means of “controlling” the protestors.

The protestors were not being violent and were not disturbing the peace. A woman who was pepper sprayed by police had to be taken to the hospital to be treated for chemical burns.

The only actions the students partook in were shouting chants at the police; they weren’t pulling out weapons and threatening them.

I once wrote a column earlier this year about our generation being too apathetic when it comes to social causes. Older generations have complained about us not caring enough or not at all in some cases. Now that some students at UC Davis took action, they were punished for it.

If we choose to do so, how are we supposed to advocate for change and get our voices heard if we are pepper sprayed or beaten? Maybe I’m missing a point, but I don’t think I am.

UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza defended the officer’s actions by telling CBS Sacramento station KCRA that it wasn’t safe for students to camp on the quad and the officer’s safety was a concern because there were 200 people in the quad. Spicuzza has been placed on administrative leave along with two other officers.

Linda Katehi, UC Davis Chancellor, has received criticism from students since the incident. She said she told the chief of police to avoid violence at all costs. Well, that didn’t happen and it did get violent on the authorities’ end.

Claudia Morain, a UC Davis spokesperson, said there were 35 police officers on the scene, 50 occupiers and 200 bystanders. The students or bystanders weren’t harming anyone. They were peacefully protesting. Morain even said she didn’t thoroughly watch the videos and said no tent cities were going to be allowed for budget purposes.

UC Davis student Thomas Fowler who captured the footage said he was appalled and speechless by the actions of the police. It is appalling and cruel. The students were treated like ravaging criminals when they were just sitting on the quad and chanting. How is that violent?

In these times with financial aid resources disappearing and tuition going up a certain percent each academic year, students’ opinions and voices need to be heard more than ever.

I don’t know how many times I’ve reiterated the fact that if nothing is done, nothing will change for the better.

Some of you reading this may strongly disagree with me and think the police pepper spraying the protesting students was the right thing to do. That’s your opinion and you are entitled to it.

However, if you’re just bitching about college being too expensive and not taking even the tiniest bit of action to do something about it, then don’t complain. It’s that simple.

I truly hope this incident doesn’t occur on another college campus again. There is no reason to add violence when there is no violence.