Something that recently caught my attention (though it happened mid-November) is the Occupy UC Davis/Occupy Cal protests at UC Berkeley. The movement of Occupy Cal is to raise awareness in creating jobs and improving the quality of life at Berkeley and California. Very similar to the Occupy Wall Street movement, there are sit-ins on the campus of UC Davis where students, professors, and citizens peacefully protest for rights and awareness for the firings of lower-ranking workers at the university, tuition increase, and mandatory furloughs of professors and other university workers. On November 19th, a video on youtube gained public attention of the UC Davis movement and the violence that was inflicted on the peaceful protesters on campus. As seen in this video( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHQqvDsbxwA ) police use unnecessary violence on the peaceful protestors in order to assert their power in the situation. There is clearly no reason for this act of violence and when I watch it, it brings up some important questions about democracy, individual freedom, and authority.
First of all, in a democracy, we all have personal freedoms: freedom of choice, pursuit of happiness, etc. These protestors were pursuing their own happiness and expressing their opinions in a way that caused no harm to any person in the situation. This video is disturbing on so many levels considering the authority that is supposed to run our country, be the reason in the law, and provide protection for the common citizen is doing nothing except harming the common citizen and exerting force out of personal interest rather than for the common good. What exactly were these policemen defending except for their own egos? This might be a dramatic statement but I fail see what they were trying to prove in this situation that would require such force as to pepper spray excessively and drag students out of their sitting positions. I see nothing but hate and harm in this situation.
As said in the resolution calling for a break with the democratic party, “While the American government invokes ‘democratic rights’ to justify wars abroad, it responds to social protests at home with riot police, tear gas and rubber bullets .“ This furthers my point that leaders in America claim to have a democracy and live by the democratic way, but in all honesty they have no idea what they are defending. Across the sea, we are defending democracy, trying to teach “democratic rights” to those that are lost and need new direction. Yet on our home turf, we are one big cup of hypocrisy, using brutal forces and unlawful reasoning that we fight against overseas.
Next time we think about democracy and how we feel bad for those people overseas that live without a free world, we should look at ourselves and consider if we are really free. Before we can take action and fix brutality, dictatorships, and other terrible travesties, we need to fix ourselves and think about what we are actually defending. As annoying as Tom is in Hannah More’s, “Village Politics” he has a point in wanting all of the basic liberties in this democracy that America has adopted. Next time the police force wants to pepper spray a bunch of innocent young protestors, they should think about what they are really defending in this democracy; the basic liberties we based our country off of or individual power and control?