2006-10-22 text and photos by josh sonnenfeld ( sugarloaf [at] riseup.net ), posted to [https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2006/10/22/18322461.php]:
If you've taken a glance at the corporate press' headlines recently, you'd see something like this: "UC Santa Cruz Protest Turns Violent," or, my favorite, "Police Break Up Violent Protest at UC Regents Meeting." The mainstream media blatently suggests that it was the students - the protesters - that were violent. Yet, to have violence you have to have victims. 'cus if nothing or no one was hurt, how can you claim that any crime has been committed?
If you look at Wednesday's (Oct. 18, 2006) protest and all the reports and documentation, you'll see that, in fact, there were victims of violence. The victim wasn't property. The victims weren't the cops (except the one that sprayed himself with his own pepper-spray). The victims weren't the Regents (unless you call really having to pee a form of violence). For the most part, the victims weren't even the corporate visitors (one guy from the Chamber of Commerce claims he got spit on, but that's it). If you were present or if you looked at the documentation, you would see that the victims were, by and large, the protesters.
So.. if violence creates victims, and the victims were mostly protesters, who were the instigators of the violence? The police. This is my argument: that Wednesday's protest was in fact violent, and we should all abhor unjust violence, yet the majority of violence came in the form of pepper-spray in the eyes and batons to the bodies. If we are truly concerned about violence and safety, then we must also be concerned about the police.
Pepper-sprayed: Immediately after police snatched 3 activists, they used their batons to push away nearby protesters, eventually pepper-spraying the crowd.
Here to Help
Rinse and Repeat
Hit in the Head by a Baton
Didn't Realize 'til He Saw His Hands
Cement Burn: This is the back of the same guy from above. He was dragged on the ground by cops before he was yanked away by friends.
Eyes Won't Stop Burning
Wrong Place Wrong Time: Like most of those pepper-sprayed, these two just happened to be at the front of the crowd when the cops attacked.
Victims of Violence: Still recovering after being pepper-sprayed, how do you think these two will feel when they find out the corporate press is going to call them the violent ones?
Sentinel photographer was smiling
oh and for the record, the Sentinel's photographer was smiling while he took photos of kids trying to wash the pepper-spray out of their eyes. In fact, the photo on the left is him taking this shot -
"UCSC Protests" gallery photo 4 of 5 from "Santa Cruz Sentinel" [http://www.santacruzphotogallery.com/gallery/protest/ucsc_protest4]: UCSC student Ben Sellers, an exchange student from England, has his eyes washed out after being sprayed by campus police with pepper spray Wednesday, October 18, 2006 as student protesters stormed a building where University of California Regents were meeting.
what's to smile about?
"No, the Sentinel photographer was LAUGHING..."
2006-10-26 comment by Dan Coyro:
Yeah, I thought it was hilarious...especially when the protesters egged on the police with profanites, flipped off the police repeatedly in their faces and them pushed up against the police when the police were trying to escort from the meeting hall a Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce director and a Santa Cruz Schools superintendant...then the protesters scream police brutality... I had to chuckle when many of the kids who got pepper sprayed whined for nearly an hour...I got sprayed and kept working while most of those kids laid on the ground wimpering for the cameras.
"did you get it straight in the eyes?"
2006-10-26 comment by "I don't think so":
Did you get it right in the eyes though, Dan?
From all the pictures I've seen, you were back a bit. Many of us felt a little sensation if we were in the general area of the pepper spray, but that's very different from being someone in the very front of the crowd getting it STRAIGHT in the eyes. Just look at the first photo posted ...
"MY ACCOUNT OF WHAT HAPPENED"
2006-10-19 from [email@example.com], posted "UCSC Protests" gallery photo 4 of 5 [http://www.santacruzphotogallery.com/gallery/protest/ucsc_protest4]:
HUGE march of students and staff (approx 300 people) begins at BayTree Bookstore 2:45-3:15pm - Demonstrators approach building where Regents are supposed to have 15 minute "public comment" period. - Regents hadn't arrived yet, protesters have their own speakout outside for a good 20 minutes before Regents sneak in through back door. This really upsets demonstrators. - Minor shoving matches between police and demonstrators occur at entrance as designated speakers are allowed in. - All of this is videotaped by police and observed by UCSC administrators. - Protesters attempt to negotiate way inside but police demand the IDs of anyone who is to enter, frustration mounts. - With little other recourse, protesters hold hands and form giant circle around building, thereby blocking quick exit of Regents for almost an hour. - Police attempt to push through various exits and escort Regents out numerous times but fail. Students stage sit ins at most exits except for main entrance where they stand instead (big mistake). - Finally, police attempt to blitz the regents out through main entrance. Big ugly scuffle occurs. Police use batons and pepper spray against students who shove back. 3 protestors (2 students, 1 alumni) are grabbed by police and dragged inside building. Standoff ensues. - Other exits remain barricaded with groups of 10-20 people. - Riot police from San Francisco arrive in Stevenson parking lot . - Negotiations for the release of 3 protesters begin - UC Regents want out first. - Agreement is reached shortly before 6pm - UC Regents allowed to leave with police escort, 3 demonstrators are released close to half hour later (7:30pm). Analysis - If the Regents had really been interested in hearing input from the people who pay them tuition, they would have allowed for at least an hour's worth of public comment in the same way that the Santa Cruz city council often does when big issues are up for a vote. This would have allowed folks to blow off steam in a relatively constructive way but this was not allowed. During the sit in, demonstrators probably wouldn't have continued to hold the Regents captive for more than an additional hour - the widespread feeling was that we'd made our point and were close to dispersing. Had the Regents waited it out, the confrontation could have been avoided. As it stands, the cops rushed the crowd which reacted the way any large group of angry people tend to when they're being pushed. Nuff said.
reply to the above, posted 2006-10-19 by "Photos don't lie" to "UCSC Protests" gallery photo 4 of 5 [http://www.santacruzphotogallery.com/gallery/protest/ucsc_protest4]:
I agree with your portrayal, with one different opinion on my part. Those weren't regents, and the police weren't trying to get them out. They were community members who had made public comments and wanted to get out. Mardi Wormhoudt came out first; none of the protesters seemed to mind. Then another person came out about 10 minutes later; again, little reaction. But when the two guys pictured in photo #2 of this gallery came out, the students mistakenly thought they were regents and went off. But neither one was a regent. They are local businessmen, who had made public statements and then wanted to leave. When the students charged, the cops pushed back. And when the cops then went to retreat back inside, the cops sprayed them. Look at the pepper spray photo in this gallery. The cops are Inside the building, spraying out. They aren't in the courtyard trying to get anyone out.