Town Square

"Occupy," Tea Party, and Pepper Spray

Original post made by Paul Losch, a resident of Palo Alto, on Nov 30, 2011

I attended college at UC Davis during the Viet Nam era. Plenty of anti-war rallies and demonstrations. Never a damaged bookstore like Stanford experienced, let alone some of the more extreme goings on that took place at Berkeley. Davis did not and does not have that sort of “personality.”

I guess I am far enough along in my life experience that I have tried to think about what transpired with this recent pepper spray incident in Davis from the perspective of the leadership—the Chancellor, the Police Chief, mainly. It is not clear to me just what the students were doing that led to the pepper spraying—“disperse” is the word I have seen mentioned—and I have difficulty connecting the dots.

Instructing the police to disperse the crowd, from the vantage point of the Chancellor, may or may not have been the right call. There does seem to be a huge disconnect from making such a call, and discussing tactics about how it should be done. Clearly, it was a failure, and does display a lack of judgment by the Chancellor.

More to the point, did she send the right direction? I think this “Occupy” movement, taking place all over the country, calls into question that she did. As that 1960’s Buffalo Springfield song goes: “There is something happening here.”

Had I been Chancellor, with my understanding of the facts, I would have handled this very differently. Peaceful assembly in a Constitutional right. “Disperse” offers no alternative to those who are part of this “Occupy” movement. There should have been some middle ground from getting the Occupy folks to assemble elsewhere if legitimate campus business was being disrupted. That is a far cry from the police pepper spraying those sitting, as best I could tell, on a sidewalk adjoining the UCD Quad.

A couple of interesting contrasts include how LAPD—1400 strong—managed to clear an area that the Mayor of LA decided needed to be cleared.

Closer to home—we have no “Occupy” movement in Palo Alto, we have no Tea Party here, as best as I can tell. Are we “above” it all, “beneath” it all, living in a cocoon? There appears to be little or no thought leadership here around the issues that two disparate groups around the country have raised, admittedly somewhat incoherently. Both groups have presented “symptoms” that a thoughtful place such as Palo Alto should be able to distill into a better understanding of what is truly behind these goings on.


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Posted by Tea Partier
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 30, 2011 at 2:04 pm

What's the big deal with pepper spray? I heard on Fox News that pepper spray is a food product, not a weapon.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 30, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Yeah, I agree - it's a food product. School are now topping pizzas w/it; hence, pizza can have TWO veggies - tomato sauce & pepper spray. The cops were just trying to make sure that the students got enough veggies.

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 30, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Had I been Chancellor, I would have closed Davis until spring. I would then reopen, admitting only students who would pledge to obey the law.
The 33rd word is peaceably.

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Posted by Disgusted
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 30, 2011 at 6:46 pm

But you are not chancellor, not are you qualified to be in charge of anything, let alone a university. Leave it to walter to only support his version of or basic freedoms.

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 1, 2011 at 5:36 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Freedom to disobey the law?

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Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 1, 2011 at 12:23 pm

"Freedom to disobey the law?"

Like, for instance, the Stamp Act?

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 2, 2011 at 8:56 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

More like the Whiskey Rebellion.

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Posted by hand
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 3, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Walter would have supported King George.

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 3, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

No, King Kong.

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Posted by Edgarpoet
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 13, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Edgarpoet is a registered user.

Is something wrong with protesting? Wasn't this country founded
by people that would rather "protest" than forget about all their
ideologies and accept human oppression?
For you intelligent Palo Alto readers: We have some written documents called amendments to our constitution, one of these called the 14th amendment states that we have the right to free speach,
the right to assemble ( in a peacefull manor). Now that that is clear: which right do you want me NOT TO HAVE?
Why not just write an amendment banishing all our rights? Then we
can bring back the bush family circus and finish off America into
total doom! Would this be ok with you intelligent Palo Alto Elites?