Sometimes, video evidence isn’t what it seems to be. Sometimes, it can be very misleading if all you see is an excerpt, taken out of context, from the whole of the event. That now appears to be exactly the case with a widely circulated video clip from last week.
I am sure most people, by now, have seen the clip of police pepper spraying OWS morons at U.C. Davis. There they were, looking all peaceful, sitting on the ground, arms linked when along came the big bad police, those establishment, law enforcement officers who, out of the blue and for no reason at all, let loose with cans of pepper spray.
Oh the humanity, the horror. Doing such a thing to those who were simply exercising their 1st amendment right to gather, why, it’s just unthinkable.
UC Davis Chancellor, Linda Katehi, has, with tears in her eyes, apologized to students for the actions of the police.
Two officers and the campus police chief have been placed on leave.
UC President Mark Yudof has denounced the police for the pepper spraying of those students.
Students at UC Davis are demanding the Chancellor resign and they want the cops fired.
It’s a mess at UC Davis and all because of this piece of irrefutable video evidence.
That video clip CLEARLY show police pepper spraying those students FOR NO GOOD REASON WHATSOEVER!
Whoa…Hang on there…Not so fast.
We now have the words of one of those students who was sitting there, minding her own darn business, only to receive a face full of pepper spray and what she says happened, well, sheds a whole new light on things.
” Well we were protesting together and the riot cops came at us and we linked arms and sat down peacefully to protest their presence on our campus. And then at one point they were – we had encircled them and they were trying to leave and they were trying to clear a path. And so we sat down, linked arms and said that if they wanted to clear the path they would have to go through us. But we were on the ground, you know, heads down and all I could see was people telling me to cover my head, protect myself and put my head down. And the next thing I know we were pepper-sprayed.”
Astonishing isn’t it? I am flabbergasted that the video clip didn’t show ALL that went on aren’t YOU?
According to Pearson…”… we had encircled them and they were trying to leave and they were trying to clear a path. And so we sat down, linked arms and said that if they wanted to clear the path they would have to go through us.”
Okay, so…the police, the BIG BAD POLICE, wanted to leave BUT…you had “encircled” them.
tr.v. en·cir·cled, en·cir·cling, en·cir·cles
- 1. To form a circle around; surround.
Well now…According to Pearson, one of the poor abused students, who wants the world’s sympathy and is entitled to do whatever she pleases has admitted that she and her fellow entitled students…SURROUNDED the police who were, in fact, trying to leave AND Pearson and her fellow entitled students issued an ULTIMATUM that IF those police wanted to leave…” they would have to go through us.”
The police said they were surrounded. The Chief of police said they were surrounded. The Chancellor said the police were surrounded before she tearfully apologized for the pepper spraying.
Nobody believed them.
Everybody wanted them all fired or to resign.
Now, according to one of the protesters, the police were telling the truth. The Chief of police was telling the truth and so was the Chancellor.
Here is a hint for those who feel entitled to do anything they please.
When the police tell you to make a path…Make a path. If you refuse and issue an ultimatum to those police, expect them to take you up on it.
The police at UC Davis were well within their rights to do what they did and the words of Elli Pearson clearly prove that.
If those officers and the Chief of Police are not reinstated to full active duty at once, anarchy takes a step forward and the court of public opinion, manipulated by an out of context video clip will take precedence over the rule of law.
The 1st Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
When the right of assembly encroaches upon the rights of others, police are within their rights to disperse the protesters and reasonable force is among their options.
What happened at UC Davis falls within that category. Protesters were blocking right of ways…Police asked them to disperse. Protesters declined, which is their right but then, surrounded the police. Police asked them to make a path and again the protesters declined while issuing an ultimatum.
Police then used the least intrusive means of control…pepper spray…to render those in that part of the protest crowd more compliant.
By issuing that ultimatum, those protesters challenged the police to a confrontation and in order to avert what could have become a worse situation, the police responded with a very measured action to which the OWS crowd is now crying foul.
Given the situations involving other OWS protesters, including thousands of arrests, violence, arsons, rapes other acts of violence, the police at UC Davis made a decision to act in a way most likely to avert further physical confrontation.
While the 1st Amendment allows for, “…the right of the people peaceably to assemble…” the ultimatum issued by UC Davis protesters, “…that if they (the police) wanted to clear the path they would have to go through us,” clearly shows the intention to forego a peaceable assembly.
While Elli Pearson probably never intended to let the truth of the situation slip out, and the left wing “Democracy Now” folks probably never intended to inadvertently air that truth, both did so and in so doing, both have shown the actions of the police at UC Davis to be appropriate.