Like George Zimmerman, the man accused of shooting and killing young, unarmed Trayvon Martin in Florida, they cited a personal sense of fear as reason enough for taking action by, in the case of UC Davis officers, unleashing potentially deadly and unnecessary force on seated, non-resisting, nonviolent protesters.
Whether or not the lack of organization and good judgment on the Davis campus results in firings or disciplinary measures for campus officers and personnel, one thing should be clear: if the Davis Occupy protesters had been other than nonviolent, this critical report would have been written very differently.
If the Davis Occupy protesters had been other than nonviolent, we would not have what we have now: a call to revisit appropriate, system-wide levels of oversight and review, as well as a call to the Legislature to reevaluate aspects of the Police Officers' Bill of Rights “that appear to limit independent public review of police conduct…”
The report goes on to say that “This limitation does not serve the police or the public. When information necessary to understand and evaluate police conduct is unavailable to the public, the public has less confidence in the police and the police cannot perform their duty without public confidence.”
Thanks to the nonviolence of the UC Davis Occupy movement, we as a community have a priceless opportunity to restore our right to gather together safely to petition the government for a redress of grievances, a right which no longer exists when officers' sense of insecurity, despite all their weaponry, is allowed to override the first amendment. Only through change at the state level can we restore local civilian review, without which a true sense of community and safety cannot exist.
Carol Denney is a community activist, musician, and bike commuter.