I was wrong about #OccupyDavis

I recently visited my alma matter, U.C. Davis, to give a talk about bug photography. I hadn’t been to Davis since I graduated in 2005. It was good to be back. More than good. I had forgotten how much I missed the wide tree-lined streets, the gardens, the warm community of intellectuals, the chaos of Davis’s iconic bicycle commute.

As my host Phil Ward and I drove past a little Occupy Davis encampment in Central Park I did a double-take, and laughed.

“That’s kinda stupid,” I remarked. “Why on earth does Davis need occupying?”

You see, Davis is the most egalitarian place I’ve ever lived. The town is quiet and peaceful. The sense of community permeates the place like the smell of buttered popcorn at a movie theatre. People know each other. It’s not the sort of town that, say, crashes the global economy in an unregulated orgy of financial greed.

Occupy Wall Street? Sure. Any occupants are better than the current ones. Occupy Congress? An excellent idea. But Occupy Davis, California? Bicycle capitol of the world? It seemed silly in that environment. If Occupy Davis was serious, I thought, they’d join their counterparts in Oakland & San Francisco. You know, places that actually have big financial & government institutions. Protesting in Davis is just protesting for the sake of protesting.

Well. I could not have been more wrong:

There are some things You Just Don’t Do. You don’t bring riot gear to a non-riot, for example. You don’t assault people who are not threatening violence.

If the police in Davis, California- the most easygoing town this side of Pleasantville- mount such an overkill of a response to a small, non-violent protest then we have a big problem.

I misjudged. Turns out Davis needed to be occupied after all. And if Occupy Davis has a point, then so does Occupy Anywhere.

12 thoughts on “I was wrong about #OccupyDavis”

    1. Because some have decided to put activism before their personal academic priorities, for better or for worse. There was also the Occupy Harvard (ironic, I will admit) event that happened some weeks or days ago, during which students were urged to walk out of their econ classes in protest of some of the faculty’s perceived activities in past presidential administrations.

  1. I’m an undergrad at UC Davis, and I’d just like to point out that Occupy Davis and Occupy UC Davis are separate factions with Occupy Davis being more closely associated with the greater Occupy Wall Street movement and Occupy UC Davis being more closely associated with the protests on other UC campuses, particularly Occupy Cal, speaking out mainly against both the recent and proposed tuition increases. (So yeah, Occupy Davis is kinda silly as far as most people I’ve talked to are concerned.)

    Likewise, the Davis PD and the UC Davis PD are separate entities. In fact, the DPD is now trying to distance itself from the UCDPD.
    http://davis.patch.com/articles/city-pd-distances-self-from-uc-davis-police

  2. Alex,
    I was wondering what your take was on the immediate efficacy of that photograph. The image seems to do a terrific job of conveying the bizarre scenario of overkill that you were describing.

  3. So, all of a sudden you realize that we are becoming a police state ?

    I would laugh if it wasn’t so sad.

    We have a Fed Dept of Education SWAT team (or several) and swat teams serving misdemeanor warrants breaking into the wrong houses and shooting the dogs or people therein on a near daily basis. We have concealed carry permit holders shot while shopping. The litany goes on ad nauseum and you are now incensed by pepper-sprayed intransigent students. We regularly have photographers falsely arrested for filming police in public and ‘outrages’ when such filming is publicly outed. Lovely.

    I have to say that the police are damned if they do and damned if they don’t prepare for all eventualities as happened in the Vancouver riots. It’s not the police’s fault but rather their bosses’s who give the orders in many cases.

    The only way to stop these outrages is to decrease the size of government. A weak police force would not have the manpower to bother with this crap. The only way to increase police accountability is to dump the Unions.

    “Does the government fear us? Or do we fear the government? When the people fear the government, tyranny has found victory. The federal government is our servant, not our master!” Thomas Jefferson

    1. Here is a winner !

      Toy M16 rifle in moving car triggers false alarm

      The sight of a toy M16 rifle being played with in a family’s minivan on the freeway was enough to send seven police and sheriff’s units in pursuit of the vehicle.

      With no real weapon to worry about, the responding officers gave the parents a lecture about how their children need to be careful when playing with a pretend firearm.

      “We take that pretty serious,” said Deputy Warren Toy, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. “We definitely educated [the parents] not to point even a toy gun at somebody because you never know if the other person had a real gun and would seek to engage.”

      http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/11/toy-gun-rifle-false-alarm.html

      A comment from a blog:
      “Thanks, Deputy Dawg. We’re quite sure mom and dad will be careful to keep junior’s toys safely hidden at home from now on so as not to offend polite society and prompt another full-on cavalry charge. Maybe now you can run along and dig up a sense of humor.”

  4. I always used to say that Davis leaned so far left that it fell right. The sacred potholes… The woman who was harassed by the police because she snored too loudly… The house party that was shut down by the police because it broke the noise ordinance… (Interestingly, the hum from the traffic lights a block away also broke the noise ordinance, and I couldn’t hear anything from the front porch.) The ban on political buttons at the farmers market… These all happened while I was at Davis. It reminded me of the Edward Scissorhands movie…

    1. Yeh !

      The chancellor tells the cop boss – get rid of those miscreant troublemakers – use whatever it takes if they give you trouble !

      cop boss tells the fat & happy campus shamus – get rid of those miscreant troublemakers – here take this standard issue pepper spray and use it if they give you trouble !

      So they do and the chancellor says “OMG you are so screwed for using that pepper spray !”

      It’s a Cinderella story that won’t quit !

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