From the campus of UC Davis on Friday.
James Fallows writes:
Let’s stipulate that there are legitimate questions of how to balance the rights of peaceful protest against other people’s rights to go about their normal lives, and the rights of institutions to have some control over their property and public spaces. Without knowing the whole background, I’ll even assume for purposes of argument that the UC Davis authorities had legitimate reason to clear protestors from an area of campus — and that if protestors wanted to stage a civil-disobedience resistance to that effort, they should have been prepared for the consequence of civil disobedience, which is arrest.
I can’t see any legitimate basis for police action like what is shown here. Watch that first minute and think how we’d react if we saw it coming from some riot-control unit in China, or in Syria. The calm of the officer who walks up and in a leisurely way pepper-sprays unarmed and passive people right in the face? We’d think: this is what happens when authority is unaccountable and has lost any sense of human connection to a subject population. That’s what I think here.
Mike Konczal chimes in (+1 for the Google Map, Mike), noting that protests have been consistent on college campuses for several years now.
E.D. Kain in his Forbes column, agreeing with Mr. Fallows, and echoing my sentiment overall:
That’s what I think, too. It’s funny, I’d really started to grow a little cold on Occupy Wall Street lately. Protests only go so far. Tent cities eventually wear out their welcome. At some point you need to get up, get online, start trying to elect people. At some point, you have to also play the game in order to win.
But it’s hard not to be supportive of people exercising their democratic rights, their right to dissent, who end up suffering violence for it.