The Recall Walker campaign in full swing is exhilarating and absorbing. But we must at the same time keep our eyes on the horrifying police brutality against people in America who simply try to exercise their rights as citizens.
On November 9 at UC Berkeley, several thousand students, faculty, and employees of the university protested a proposed 81% tuition hike and increased privatization of the UC system, among other things. The crowd gathered peacefully to petition for a redress of grievances. As hundreds of students linked arms to form a human chain, riot police began beating them mercilessly without warning or provocation.
From a heartbreaking eyewitness description of the following video: â€œThe young man in the front that police keep beating even after he's unable to get up is a first-year graduate student in my department named Josh Anderson. As you can see from the video, neither he, nor any of the other students being beaten with batons strike back at the police with violence. Instead, you can see him, barely able to stand, gingerly raise a peace sign after being repeatedly struck on the head, neck, ribs, and legs.â€
â€œIn the next video, the first woman (in pink) that the police drag out of the crowd by her hair is Professor Celeste Langan, a beloved professor of British Romanticism and media studies in my department and director of the UC Townsend Center of the Humanities. When the police violence occurred again, they broke the ribs of another English professor, poet Geoffrey O'Brien. When the police wouldn't stop beating him even after he too had fallen to the ground,
a good friend and fellow graduate student, Ben Cullen, rushed in and demanded that they stop. The police, in turn, rained multiple blows on him, bruising his ribs as well. And just in case it's not clear yet that the violence was not only against 'some kids looking to make a fuss,' the police also thought it necessary to jab 70-year-old former Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Hass several times in the stomach with a baton as well.â€
The reason I entitled this blog post We the People are the Media? Thanks to the writing and videos of citizen reporters, we know what really happened. No one can deny the bone-chilling, heart-warming experience of these brave students despite the inaccurate AP account of â€œofficers pulling people from the steps and nudging others with batons.â€