Ladies and Gentlemen,
I mentioned in my last post the incident at University of California, at Davis, in which non-violent student protestors were maliciously pepper-sprayed by UC Davis police, who were called into by Chancellor Linda Katehi to remove the students. If you don’t know about the incident, I recommend these two articles as a starting point: First, from Reader Supported News, an overview with several videos: “UC Davis Police Violence Adds Fuel to Fire.” And next, an “Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi” who is the Chancellor of UC Davis, written by a UC Davis faculty member. Or just googling it should give you plenty of info to work with.
On Change.org there is a now a petition calling for the resignation of Chancellor Linda Katehi. I have signed it, adding the following comment:
I am deeply disturbed by what has happened at UC Davis, UC Berkeley and other college campuses around the country. I am a PhD student in the English Department of my university. I am also a Teaching Fellow and I teach Freshman writing classes, in which I try to support all voices and opinions while also encouraging civic duty and pride. I and some of my students have shown open support for the Occupy movements. I am horrified to think that this or something similar could happen to me or my students because we are demonstrating our basic rights to free speech and assembly. Perhaps you did not realize the police would be quite so cavalier and violent in their methods of dispersing the protestors at UC Davis (though I doubt that, as the police have demonstrated open willingness to use violent measures on nonviolent protestors), but that does not lessen your responsibility for calling the police to remove the students in the first place, and calling for a “task force” after the fact does nothing to change this. College administrations in this country need to be made aware that you (and they) CANNOT get away with this blatant disregard for student rights and safety, or things like this will continue to happen. You have proven that you do not have the students’ best interests at heart, and are therefore no longer qualified to be chancellor of any university. If you have any sense of what is right, you should issue a formal and heartfelt apology and resign.
I would ask that you sign it as well. It takes only a moment. You don’t even need to add a comment unless you want to. I strongly believe that we need to show this chancellor, and all college administrators, that we will not stand for this. Colleges are meant to be places for free thought and open discussion. This kind of thing cannot be allowed to continue.
Once more, here is the link to the petition: “Police Pepper Spray Peaceful UC Davis Students: Ask Chancellor Katehi to Resign.”
Edit 1: I have just been sent another link on Twitter for another petition. This one is a national call to “Condemn the use of tear gas and pepper spray (and other chemical weapons) on peaceful protesters in the United States” posted on whitehouse.gov. This one only has a few signatures so far, so PLEASE sign! I didn’t even know this platform existed, but I’ve checked and it does seem to be a legitimate page run by White House staff to allow the public to send petitions directly to the federal government. This is a valuable piece of information to have, and I’m glad I’ve now learned of its existence.
Edit 2: Here is a fantastic explanation of the Authoritarian mentality in the U.S. that is at the root of the UC Davis incident by Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com: “The Roots of the UC-Davis Pepper-Spraying.”
Also, an absolutely WONDERFUL video showing the perfectly orchestrated, perfectly SILENT demonstration of protestors after Chancellor Katehi made an press conference. At least 1000 students (perhaps more) surrounded the building and then cleared a path for Katehi to exit and walk to her car, the entire time surrounded on all sides by silent, shaming student protestors.
Thank you! And please feel free to share your thoughts below!