Over the past weekend, and indeed over the past few weeks, we've seen quite a few acts of police brutality via YouTube. Yes, these clips don't show the whole story, but let's not kid ourselves - the police have committed acts of stupid brutality. And I don't mean tearing down tents, or throwing out books, but rather, spraying kids with pepper spray because they refuse to move.
Notice the casualness of the police officer as he douses these students with pepper spray. On tape. With other students telling the police officer that they're taping him. Now, this isn't, unfortunately, an isolated incident. Last week, the chancellor of UC Berkeley, demonstrating that he didn't attend the university he purports to run, notified students that linking arms was a form of violence against the police. Additionally, cities like Oakland and New York have seen clashes with the police and the Occupy crowd, and have had more than their fair share of rough behavior from the police.
And simply put, all this rough treatment is the result of sheer stupidity by those police departments. At UC Davis, did the police really think that the students would camp over the Thanksgiving holiday? Or does the NYPD really think that the Occupy Wall Street protesters were going to stay in Zuccotti park all winter long? The police, if they were thinking, could simply wait out the protesters. Post a car or two at the protest, make sure that everyone is safe, and treat the protest as "nothing to see here."
Instead, by using violence, the police are playing into the hands of protesters. The whole point of civil disobedience is to incite a violent reaction from the authorities. If the officer in the video above hadn't pepper sprayed those kids, I wouldn't even know that there was a protest at UC Davis. Hell, I only have a vaguest notion of where UC Davis is (by Sacramento, in a cow pasture). But guess what, now not only do I know who the Chancellor is, I know why the kids are protesting (tuition costs doubling in the past eight years), and I know of a certain police officer who's about to get canned.
And that's the stupidity of the whole affair. Look, college kids will protest. First, its in their nature, and second, there's a lot to protest out there. These kids are paying a lot more for a college education than I did, and their returns, post college, are much worse than mine. I'd be pissed too. But, eventually, these kids have lives to get back to, and they stop protesting. Better to hear them out, make sure they're safe, and then go on from there.