No Cops, No Bosses

By now much of the world has seen video and photos of Lt. John Pike of the UC Davis police department as he discharged a canister of burning chemicals into the faces of students seated in the center of the university quad. Most viewers are outraged, and justifiably so. Much of the outrage has been directed at John Pike. He deserves it. But we should remind ourselves that Friday’s police violence was only an aberration because it happened on a university campus not easily assimilable to the stereotype of “Berkeley radicals” and to students who are perceived or portrayed as mostly white and as resisting passively. Whiteness is brought up here, not to chastise those who only now denounce police violence that has been routinely applied to non-white communities and individuals—this itself is a misperception of Friday’s events: a majority of those arrested were not white—but to invite readers, new and old, to extend the critique of police violence beyond the walls of the university to the communities whose life it damages every single day.

Friday’s punitive violence, as terrible as it was, is not an example of bad policing. It is an example of policing.

We’ve seen this kind of violence used before on California campuses, and not just in response to the anti-privatization protests and occupations of the past two years. We’re seeing it used now to suppress dissent in cities across the world, from Oakland to Cairo.

When UC Davis police chief Annette Spicuzza says she is “very proud” of her officers, who “did a great job,” she is convinced that this is true. It’s not simply a public relations strategy, it’s a reflection of the fact that her officers did what cops are expected to do: employ violence against those who challenge authority.

This is why we do not demand the dismissal of Lt. John Pike, although it would be welcome.

Our demand is COPS OFF CAMPUS. Period.

Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi is working feverishly to control the media narrative about Friday’s police attack on protesters. She tried to hold a press conference yesterday, but we shut it down with our voices and bodies. It’s telling that the press conference was held in a building meant to accommodate satellite trucks and internet broadcasting, but whose size and peripheral location bar students from attending. Katehi’s press conference was meant to calm a national public outraged by her use of force against students. Addressing students and, more importantly, listening to them, was not part of her agenda. We were locked out of the building yesterday, but we let ourselves in and stopped the propaganda session.

Although we posed no danger to her, Katehi refused to leave the building for two hours, perhaps waiting for rain, or nightfall, before walking past a silent wall of students and ducking into her luxury automobile. She could have addressed students there, of course, but she preferred the leather-lined cocoon of the car and the comforts of a phone interview with CNN, conducted immediately after she left.

For Katehi, students are a nuisance, an obstacle standing in the way of her plans to privatize and internationalize the campus. This is apparent in the email missives that she sends to everyone, trying to justify her use of force. She invokes safety and health concerns.

[T]he encampment violated regulations designed to protect the health and safety of students, staff and faculty.

Here, the health and safety OF STUDENTS become empty abstractions that must be protected FROM STUDENTS.

Similarly, in the Chancellor’s tiresome rhetoric about the university’s mission and standards, the word EXCELLENCE loses any educational significance it may have had; it becomes a quantifiable property of the university, indistinguishable from reputation or ranking. “Excellence must be maintained,” recite the administrators. Like health and safety, it must be protected from students, whose disruptive protests mar the university’s image. The careful construction of this image often takes the form of actual construction—the so called capital projects, the gleaming buildings featured so prominently on university websites.

The fee increases, pepper spray, beatings, arrests, and student disciplinary procedures of the last two years are not the unfortunate consequences of a dismal budgetary situation. They are the primary vehicles for maintaining “excellence.”

Katehi makes repeated references to the presence of non-students among the protesters who were attacked by police, as if community members and alumni had no right to set foot on the campus of a PUBLIC university, as if they had no stake in the fate of a PUBLIC university. Our administrators prefer the university’s connections to the public to be mediated by formal contracts with agribusiness giants. They prefer alumni to mail checks from a distance. They prefer that the city not interfere with its project to increase the size of the student body and expand its physical footprint. They prefer visitors to be chaperoned through campus on tours that highlight statistics, amenities and, most of all, the buildings—the shiny new buildings and construction projects financed by student debt. Against the administration’s attempts to keep the community at a distance, the students of the University of California, Davis invite alumni, community members, and everyone else to the Quad on Monday, November 21 at noon, for a conversation about the university’s future. We ask Davis residents to support us in our struggle against a university administration at war with students and with the notion of a public university.

We second calls for Katehi’s resignation. She must go. But we don’t want to replace her with another Regental appointee or an interim chancellor. We don’t want to replace her.

The administration, as a managerial class for whom the ideal university is a massive corporation in imperialist partnership with other massive corporations and banks, will never accede to our demands for self-management, greater student and community participation in university governance, and better working conditions. The administration at UC Davis and every other UC campus has proven that, when faced with these demands, they will unleash violence in our learning spaces.

We demand the abolition of the administration and the transfer of all their functions to workers, students, and faculty.

As a necessary precondition to self-management and for our safety, we demand that UCPD be disbanded and that the University be declared a sanctuary space, free of interference from law enforcement personnel. Universities outside the United States already enjoy this freedom. We must demand it here.

Cops and administrators off campus!

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44 Responses to No Cops, No Bosses

  1. Pingback: No Cops, No Bosses « occupy california

  2. Presley says:

    Bravo! Keep up the good work.

  3. Peter Stone says:

    I am truly inspired by the integrity and absolute commitment to the highest standards of non-violent civil disobedience displayed by these young students. That peaceful gauntlet of students the Chancellor had to walk was brilliant. Cheers, and carry on.

    B.S. UC Davis, 1989
    M.S. UC Davis, 1994

  4. ..--..- says:

    LT. John Pike
    Tel: 530-752-3989 *

    • Joe Schmoe says:

      Focusing outrage on Pike himself takes away from addressing the system that allows innumerable Pikes to bring violence upon the peaceful.

  5. clo says:

    support from NYC!!!

  6. Jay Peel says:

    “To protect the health and safety of students,” we attacked non-violent students.

    We had to destroy the village in order to save it.

  7. Seriously? You’d abandon all police protection on top of espousing neo-Marxist principles in your childish economic demands?

    You are a deluded fool. You should denounce your educators, from grade school to present, for allowing this far-Left narrative to run unchecked in your fevered brain.

    • crank says:

      Right, because American educators are well known for teaching Marxism. Nice try. “Police protection” is an oxymoron. Anyone who thinks otherwise is white and living in a gated “community.”

      • shazam! says:

        actually, gated communities depend upon “police protection” to live the segregated, capitalist life that they live. may class warfare come to their gates NOW. haha

    • equalizer says:

      troll; ad hominem; boring

    • ripley says:

      while we could discuss abolishing all police forces, that isn’t actually what this post argues for. Cops off campus doesn’t mean all cops everywhere out of everything. It simply means the campus is more like what you might like your home to be like – a place cops can’t come hang around and tell you what to do, beat you and pepper spray you at their discretion or the discretion of someone else. Even on sanctuary campuses, if there is an actual crime that needs investigating, cops can come in, but they need a warrant. You have a sad and unrealistic view of college campuses if you think they are so dangerous as to warrant permanent police presence.

  8. Jon says:

    What was the protest about?

    • Aministo says:

      Read earlier posts friend. PBasically it was about this price hike in tuition. Then basically the protest got out of hand when the UC Chancellor saw students put up tents on protest area and called in the police.

  9. Pingback: Sunday Night Links « Gerry Canavan

  10. ormondotvos says:

    I’d be much happier if the police would obey the law, not abuse it.

    Likewise for the bribed officials and legislators.

  11. D. Houk says:

    Two questions:
    1. What are the rights of the protestors under school policy?
    2. What (in your view) ought to be the consequences for not complying with peaceable requests to break down the tents and disperse?

  12. D. Houk says:

    Actually, I withdraw my question above… go ahead and delete my comment. As an alumni, I’m just trying to sift through this messy situation like everyone else. Not all of us think with the same sort of clarity of black and white as you do.

  13. D. Snow says:

    Perhaps the best protest, if it were possible, would be to strike….in other words….don’t matriculate at this school. Hurt them in their pocket books. No students and no money = no business. I can’t help but feel that those with the power are the ones who put dollars in the pocket books of the business entity…and in this case, it is the University.

  14. B says:

    No cops on campus.

    How do you suppose students will be protected from crime on campus? Who will investigate theft of property or respond to rapes in dorms?

    Will you set up your own police force? A rose by any other name… Or will you allow students to arm themselves. I think if young ladies were allowed to conceal carry pistols, that would deter violence.

    • Aaron says:

      The city of Davis already has a police force. Theft and sexual assault are already crimes. No need for the university to have its own police force any more than it is necessary for a middle school or high school to have its own officers.

    • Maria says:

      The city of Davis presumably has a police station.

  15. HenryHughes says:

    “Friday’s punitive violence, as terrible as it was, is not an example of bad policing. It is an example of policing.”

    Thank you for this. It cannot be stressed enough that militarized police forces are simply carrying out their job descriptions when they take such actions against protesters. By and large, they are not making mistakes as they carry out their duties. Their job is to contain protest with violence. And of course to deter it by making a show of state violence.

  16. kiya says:

    At some point we have to be realistic and call a spade a spade. This situation is no different than the way black people were and in some cases still are treated in this country. We are speaking about the same cops, same policing, same policies since the 1960’s. This is probably the first experience of police violence many white people have ever had to deal with in their lives. Hey it could have been worse, water from the hose of a fire truck, club stick, butt of the pistol bashing into your head, lynching, and torture. If those kids walk away with their vision intact then they are in good shape. by the way I was forwarded a similar image of a cop spraying a child, happened to be black and not sure it will get this much attention. It was posted by a friend in Singapore expressing concern!

  17. Saki G says:

    This is the most ludacris request I’ve read. This institution needs protection and some who knows how to run it, maybe not Katehi by your standards but a wise person elected according to their relevant experience. Like a previous post mentioned, how do you expect protection from rapes, thefts, criminals and other related acts on this campus? Be logical and have realistic requests kids..

  18. Great writing and work sir. Best wishes from Italy. Just read however that the usual tactics to avoid making anyone responsible are underway. The dickhead officer that sprayed the students is being suspended; presumably until the media outcry ends, when he’ll be reinstated with honours and a pay rise and of course the evil witch that called them in will carry on business as usual. Keep shouting and make sure this doesn’t happen!

  19. Tiff says:

    Not the greatest set of demands, but it has the proper amount of fury.

  20. Joe Renucci (Dundee Uni) says:

    I am writing to show support from Dundee University students in Scotland. The use of pepper spray on protesters on the ground who were posing no threat to police officers or anyone else is inexcusable and cowardly. The lack of apology from your chancellor is appalling. I can’t imagine her career will last much longer as she has shown that she is willing to abuse the authority given to her by the univeristy. It is very brave of you personally to take such a stand against your own employers and I hope other staff and students at UC Davis recognise this.

  21. Maria says:

    Although I agree that the violence by the police was completely unnecessary, and I too am suspicious about the need for police specific to the university, I have no idea why you state:

    “Friday’s police violence was only an aberration because it happened on a university campus not easily assimilable to the stereotype of “Berkeley radicals” and to students who are perceived or portrayed as mostly white and as resisting passively”

    What does that have to do with anything? Berkeley students that were terrorized by police were not all white, and similarly, how can you tell just by looking at the students that were attacked at Davis, that they were mostly white? I understand that perhaps we are conditioned to be more outraged as a nation when we see white students, presumably in good academic standing to be attending UC Davis, who are doing nothing more than linking arms in a show of passive resistance, being pepper sprayed than when we see rioting youth “of color” being beaten or handcuffed by the same police.

    I just don’t see how your statement was at all relevant to the rest of the piece, perhaps except to say that police brutality is real, and we need not go to urban areas with high crime to see it.

  22. Mike says:

    I hear the voice legitimate frustration, and in response, see a rationale both ignorant and short-sighted.

    While police perhaps have no place on a public campus when it comes to protestors (who are the real foundation of the structure they are trying to protect), there are true criminals that will take advantage of a no-police situation in terms of theft, violence and other crimes. Police need to be limited in their scope of involvement, not eliminated entirely.

    And while ideally self-management makes more sense, where’s the proposal for a system that includes all decision makers and allows for the reality of people joining and leaving the University structure? It’s all well and good to tell the dictators to leave, but without a plan in place to actually take action on, there’d be an analogous situation to what we’ve seen recently in Libya. And unlike Libya, UC students have a choice … go to school elsewhere. There DOES need to be “greater student and community participation in university governance” … but an abolition of administration only means that new people in power (current Occupy leaders) become the next oligarchy. Saying you want better working conditions doesn’t explain HOW changing leadership will get this to occur.

    Just because you are correct on identifying the wrong action of the police and the chancellor doesn’t give any validity to your solution. Eliminating strucutre when the structure is bad is only the reasonable choice when change isn’t possible. A few days of protests, and already the “nuclear” option needs to be used. If black civil rights activists felt this way in the 50s and 60s, we would have both had a far more violent past, and probably less change actually accomplished.

    Patience, clarity of intent, and making your voice heard is the necessity. Right now, only the last is happening.

  23. Karl Sanchez says:

    This document ought to be a great teaching and explanatory tool regarding the counterattack on dissent and what’s known as the left side of the political spectrum. Its dicta clearly becomes part of most executives’s Isms and it must be imparted during college, but the only department I can think of that would teach such is Business or perhaps Economics at the grad level. I’m sure UCD has faculty indoctrinated to the memo’s point-of-view such that it’s still being taught. Perhaps, Crank, you’ve encountered the memo. Back when I taught, this would be called a teachable moment and I’d use that memo as a learning tool.

  24. Karl Sanchez says:

    I guess you didn’t care for the comment I previously tried to post. Perhaps you might take the time to explain how you differ from Steven Higgs on The Corporatization of the American University?

  25. Gerrell Drawhorn says:

    I would broadly support a reduction of the police presence on campus. I don’t think that the police should be outfitted with riot control gear and should not be authorized to deal with issues that relate to student activism. The police have consistently been called upon to intimidate groups that were peacefully protesting..simply because the Administration didn’t want student-initiated protests. In 1987 I was once was peacefully handing out leaflets about a South African government-sponsored speaker (not chanting or otherwise making a scene) and was “ordered” by the police to stop…despite the area being in a “Administration” mandated Free Speech Area. If I had refused would I have been “violating orders” would I have been arrested? These are the types of things that should not be allowed by UC police. Police detectives have long been involved in spying on student groups. A plainclothes detective regularly attended our meetings in the 1980’s. Also their cadet wing- Aggie Hosts- which was a way of providing the athletic teams with jobs- basically were instituted to diminish the autonomy of student organizations. Most on campus events…including inexpensive free films, on campus concerts in the coffee house, etc. were seriously curtailed because the police demanded the presence of a UCD police officer(s) or Aggie Hosts. There was never an incident of violence at these films that necessitated their presence. Essentially the money generated from this “shake-down” of students has been used to provide the campus force with equipment that has allowed them to mount paramilitary operations against the student body.

    I definitely believe that the campus police should not be issued riot gear, pepper spray, control batons, etc. If they are to continue to exist they should be essentially an unarmed service force with weapons on lockdown. An officer should not be hired who cannot abide with a demilitarized campus…they are paid well enough to face whatever increased risk to their safety that might involve. They should be trained extensively in negotiation and non-violent interventions. Resident Assistants and even faculty members sometimes have to deal with upset students…yet they don’t get the right to use deadly or violent force.

  26. Jenna says:

    Rather than keep cops off campus, there should be some kind of reform as to how they should conduct themselves on campus. I transferred here to UC Davis from Irvine Valley College in Irvine, CA, and the cops at my community college never did anything much besides issuing tickets for parking violations. They knew when to step in and when to step the fuck away, and I don’t remember them ever getting violent with unruly students. UC Davis campus police should do the same.

    • I live in Italy and studied in the UK. Guess what, no police in sight! Never been to a University campus in any European country that has police on campus. Caretakers, janitors, yes. Having security guards to protect the premises makes sense, but police no.

  27. VD says:

    I demand her resignation!!!

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