Saturday, November 19, 2011

University police at UC Davis brutally pepper-spray peaceful protesters, and a look into the future - UPDATE: "Walk of Shame" for UC Davis Chancellor


By Patrick

During recent weeks, we have seen horribly violent attacks on OWS-protesters, often by "Robocop-Style" policemen, including sadistic scenes like deliberately throwing a flash gas-grenade into a group of protesters who want to help an injured person and a brutal "out-of-nowhere" pepper-spray attack on a group of women who were "boxed-in" on a sidewalk. Excessive police actions didn't only occur in the USA during the OWS-protests, but also in other countries, for example during the protests in Australia with very similar, brutal scenes. If you search on youtube for "occupy police brutality", you will find many more examples. Rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas and other brutal measures have been used against protesters in excessive ways. Photos of police violence in New York City can be seen HERE.

But it still gets worse. It was not known to me up until now that American Universities employ their own riot police, but they do, and after watching the clip of the following scene from Friday afternoon at the UC Davis, it should be clear to everyone that such a police force needs far better training and leadership. This clip of how one the UC Davis University policemen pepper-sprayed peaceful protesters "like cockroaches" has already gone viral, and it's important to watch the full clip, in order to see the effects of peaceful resistance against the brutality of the police:

Screenshots in chronological order:

Another video with more scenes from the incident:

New different clip:

It's can also be seen in the clip that several policemen are carrying paint-ball guns, which is the first time I have seen policemen carrying them at a protest. As everybody knows, paintball shots can cause serious wounds, comparable to rubber-bullet wounds - which is why the participants in a paint-ball game have to wear good protection for the face. Using such guns at close range could have caused a disaster.

More links to pictures and additional information the events at UC Davis on Friday can be found here.

Looking at court decisions about the use of pepper-spray, the actions by the UC Davis campus police may have very well been illegal.

In an open letter, Nathan Brown, Assistant Professor at UC Davis, today demanded the resignation of the Chancellor of the University. Excerpt:

On Wednesday November 16, you issued a letter by email to the campus community. In this letter, you discussed a hate crime which occurred at UC Davis on Sunday November 13. In this letter, you express concern about the safety of our students. You write, “it is particularly disturbing that such an act of intolerance should occur at a time when the campus community is working to create a safe and inviting space for all our students.” You write, “while these are turbulent economic times, as a campus community, we must all be committed to a safe, welcoming environment that advances our efforts to diversity and excellence at UC Davis.”

I will leave it to my colleagues and every reader of this letter to decide what poses a greater threat to “a safe and inviting space for all our students” or “a safe, welcoming environment” at UC Davis: 1) Setting up tents on the quad in solidarity with faculty and students brutalized by police at UC Berkeley? or 2) Sending in riot police to disperse students with batons, pepper-spray, and tear-gas guns, while those students sit peacefully on the ground with their arms linked? Is this what you have in mind when you refer to creating “a safe and inviting space?” Is this what you have in mind when you express commitment to “a safe, welcoming environment?”

I am writing to tell you in no uncertain terms that there must be space for protest on our campus. There must be space for political dissent on our campus. There must be space for civil disobedience on our campus. There must be space for students to assert their right to decide on the form of their protest, their dissent, and their civil disobedience—including the simple act of setting up tents in solidarity with other students who have done so. There must be space for protest and dissent, especially, when the object of protest and dissent is police brutality itself. You may not order police to forcefully disperse student protesters peacefully protesting police brutality. You may not do so. It is not an option available to you as the Chancellor of a UC campus. That is why I am calling for your immediate resignation.

Tweet the letter HERE.

Interestingly, the chief of Police at UC Berkeley already addressed his "concern" in a public message on the website of the police on November 16 about previous police actions which happened last Wednesday:

There are many opinions on the merits of allowing or not allowing the OccupyCal encampment. However, UCPD was tasked by the Administration with enforcing the campus policy, and as a result, unfortunate and regrettable confrontations occurred. These confrontations were captured on video, and consequently have engendered concern in the wider community regarding use of force by officers.

I have personally seen many, but not all, of the videos posted, and I too am concerned about the clashes depicted between police and Occupy protesters. I very much understand the concern and anger that these images have created. I also understand that, though the videos are snapshots in time as to what was going on in the moment, they are not capturing all activity and do not capture what occurred prior to the snippets of video. In order to accurately and factually respond to the questions and anger, UCPD has initiated an Operational Review to be conducted by the Police Review Board (PRB), which will encompass all aspects of the incidents, from the approach to enforcement and general response to the OccupyCal encampment, to the specific causes of the use of force aspects of the clashes between the police and the OccupyCal protesters.

I will look to the Operational Review to provide a summary of lessons learned and a thorough review of our applicable policies, and to point to other approaches that will minimize confrontations in future protest activities. Each protest is unique but best practices can be identified and applied to future protest activity. We are currently gathering all generated reports, copies of radio transmissions, police video, news video, YouTube video, etc. and will be reaching out to percipient witnesses to obtain a comprehensive overview so the questions and issues raised can be adequately addressed.

Due to the volume of information and contacts that will need to be made this will take some time. I will also reach out to the Police Review Board Chair to share our progress, findings, and recommendations, as well provide assistance to any review the PRB deems necessary to pursue.

So it's safe to say that there are serious problems going on with the training and the attitude of the police at the University of California. Apparently they have never heard of the concept of "proportionality", however, it seems that this is an alien concept to many other police forces in the USA as well.

It's not just excessive police brutality which is currently being used to squelch the OWS-movement. Rather than just counting on policemen who might not hesitate to use brutal measures against "hippie-left-wing" OWS-protesters, MSNBC today revealed that the prominent Washington PR-firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford has proposed an "opposition research" strategy to weaken the movement (download the memo here):

A well-known Washington lobbying firm with links to the financial industry has proposed an $850,000 plan to take on Occupy Wall Street and politicians who might express sympathy for the protests, according to a memo obtained by the MSNBC program “Up w/ Chris Hayes.”

The proposal was written on the letterhead of the lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford and addressed to one of CLGC’s clients, the American Bankers Association.

CLGC’s memo proposes that the ABA pay CLGC $850,000 to conduct “opposition research” on Occupy Wall Street in order to construct “negative narratives” about the protests and allied politicians. The memo also asserts that Democratic victories in 2012 would be detrimental for Wall Street and targets specific races in which it says Wall Street would benefit by electing Republicans instead.

According to the memo, if Democrats embrace OWS, “This would mean more than just short-term political discomfort for Wall Street. … It has the potential to have very long-lasting political, policy and financial impacts on the companies in the center of the bullseye.”

The memo also suggests that Democratic victories in 2012 should not be the ABA’s biggest concern. “… (T)he bigger concern,” the memo says, “should be that Republicans will no longer defend Wall Street companies.”


Part of the plan CLGC proposes is to do “statewide surveys in at least eight states that are shaping up to be the most important of the 2012 cycle.”

Specific races listed in the memo are U.S. Senate races in Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin, Ohio, New Mexico and Nevada as well as the gubernatorial race in North Carolina.

The memo indicates that CLGC would research who has contributed financial backing to OWS, noting that, “Media reports have speculated about associations with George Soros and others.”

"It will be vital,” the memo says, “to understand who is funding it and what their backgrounds and motives are. If we can show that they have the same cynical motivation as a political opponent it will undermine their credibility in a profound way.”

Watch the MSNBC-report by Chris Hayes:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

So don't be surprised if you see a surge of "anti-OWS" comments in the comment sections on websites. Such strategies already seem to be "standard-practice" with PR-firms, and especially sites like Huffington Post seem to be infested with such obvious PR-comments. The PR-firm in the case against OWS uses phrases like "targeted social media monitoring" which certainly relate to such common practises:

ANTI-OWS MEMO screenshot

Interestingly, it doesn't even appear that PR-agencies would have to push very hard in order to "discredit" OWS-protesters. It appears that a significant portion of the population is quite happy with the excessive police actions - following the notion that "lawless" behaviour automatically justifies the most drastic police actions. It apparently doesn't occur to these people that with such an attitude, every dictatorship could easily justify all of actions, excessive or non-excessive, and that it is an identifying component of a free society that police power is not unlimited, but strictly regulated and supervised, and actually needs to respect the rights of citizens to protest and exercise their constitutional rights.

So it comes as no surprise that several people for example had no hesitation to support and defend the pepper-spray action at UC Davis on Friday, for example in the comments at this website.


In the title of the post, I also promised a look into the future. There is one topic I have been planning to write a post about for quite a while now, but never found the time so far. So let me give you an outline: If you think that the USA, as well as some other countries in the western world, increasingly shows signs of being a "police-state", the bad news is that it's likely to get even worse. Why is that? Because detailed plans are currently being developed by US-authorities of how to use new identification technologies and databases more effectively against criminals - but which can also easily used against protesters and potential "dissidents", to use this word from the days of communism. is reporting that the FBI will begin rolling out its Next Generation Identification (NGI) facial recognition service as early as this January. Once NGI is fully deployed and once each of its approximately 100 million records also includes photographs, it will become trivially easy to find and track Americans.

As we detailed in an earlier post, NGI expands the FBI’s IAFIS criminal and civil fingerprint database to include multimodal biometric identifiers such as iris scans, palm prints, photos, and voice data. The Bureau is planning to introduce each of these capabilities in phases (pdf, p.4) over the next two and a half years, starting with facial recognition in four states—Michigan, Washington, Florida, and North Carolina—this winter.

Why Should We Be Worried?

Despite the FBI’s claims to the contrary, NGI will result in a massive expansion of government data collection for both criminal and noncriminal purposes. IAFIS is already the largest biometric database in the world—it includes 70 million subjects in the criminal master file and more than 31 million civil fingerprints. Even if there are duplicate entries or some overlap between civil and criminal records, the combined number of records covers close to 1/3 the population of the United States. When NGI allows photographs and other biometric identifiers to be linked to each of those records, all easily searchable through sophisticated search tools, it will have an unprecedented impact on Americans' privacy interests.

Although IAFIS currently includes some photos, they have so far been limited specifically to mug shots linked to individual criminal records. However, according to a 2008 Privacy Impact Assessment for NGI’s Interstate Photo System, NGI will allow unlimited submission of photos and types of photos. Photos won’t be limited to frontal mug shots but may be taken from other angles and may include close-ups of scars, marks and tattoos. NGI will allow all levels of law enforcement, correctional facilities, and criminal justice agencies at the local, state, federal and even international level to submit and access photos, and will allow them to submit photos in bulk. Once the photos are in the database, they can be found easily using facial recognition and text-based searches for distinguishing characteristics.

The new NGI database will also allow law enforcement to submit public and private security camera photos that may or may not be linked to a specific person’s record. This means that anyone could end up in the database—even if they’re not involved in a crime— by just happening to be in the wrong place at the wrong time or by, for example, engaging in political protest activities in areas like Lower Manhattan that are rife with security cameras.

The EFF also provided three very recent presentations by federal US-agencies (two by the FBI, one by the National Institute of Justice) about this subject (download HERE, HERE and HERE).

Screenshots from the presentations:








NIJ Presentation 1

NIJ Presentation 2

NIJ Presentation 3

The USA may have a debt problem, but it doesn't appear that the FBI has a problem in receiving funding for such programs which would create a huge database of citizens who just might have been at the wrong time at the wrong place - or who might have just exercised their constitutional right to protest, and have ended up in a "Big Brother" database which might work to deny them the opportunity to get government jobs, or other jobs as well.

Big Brother will be watching, but the internet community won't stop to "watch Big Brother" as well. Knowing that the internet community is ever vigilent the "clampdown" on "the internet" by politicians in the USA is already under way. More, very detailed information on this newly proposed "SOPA"-legislation which could effectively end internet freedom in the USA can be found here.

After so many rather depressing new facts, lets end on a humorous note with George Carlin. Have a good weekend, everybody!


BONUS - By our reader Linda1961:

First they came for the hippies,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a hippy.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Iraq War veterans,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't an Iraq War Veteran.

Then they came for the 84 year old ladies,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't 84 years old.

Then they came for the pregnant ladies,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't pregnant.

Then they came for the college students,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't in college.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.



If you believe that the FBI-plans for the "New Identification Generation" are talk of the future, think again. Clark Stoeckley, who runs the "Wikileaks Truck" (a satirical/art project) and who was arrested in New York on Thursday, twittered today:

They are serious. Welcome to the surveillance society.

Here is a video, showing his arrest.



The San Francisco Bay Guardian has a very good article about Chuck Wexler, the "cop who coordinated the Occupy crackdowns." Wexler is the Executive Director of "The Police Executive Research Forum" (PERF), an international non-governmental organization with ties to law enforcement and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

In this article, a publication by PERF called "Managing Major Events: Best Practices from the Field" is being mentioned. The publication can be downloaded HERE. While reading it, I found out that there are still intelligent police chiefs out there, if I may be so cynical. The police forces in cities all over the USA would have saved themselves a lot of trouble during the OWS protests if they had followed the advice given by San Antonio Police Chief William McManus:

San Antonio police chief William McManus



I just found this chilling new photo from the UC Davis pepper spray incident.

Notice how incredibly threatened the police appears to be. They are clearly "surrounded" by youngsters with mobile phones! It's a miracle that they didn't call in the paratroopers.

UC Davis iconic pepper spray photo

The protest initially involved about 50 students, Spicuzza said, but swelled to about 200 as the confrontation with police escalated.

She said officers were forced to use pepper spray when students surrounded them. They used a sweeping motion on the group, per procedure, to avoid injury, she said.

The students were informed repeatedly ahead of time that if they didn't move, force would be used, she said.

"There was no way out of that circle," Spicuzza said. "They were cutting the officers off from their support. It's a very volatile situation."


+++New protests at UC Davis+++

LIVE VIDEO: Students at UC Davis are protesting the aftermath of a press conference by Chancellor Katehi

See tweets HERE and HERE.

"NOW: Hundreds of students form human barrier at UC Davis preventing university chancellor and police chief from leaving campus building."



THE VIDEO WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR - The "Walk of Shame" for UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi. Several hundred students watched silently about half an hour ago when Katehi walked to her car.

(updated with higher quality version of exactly the same video - first clip here)

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