According to CNN (here's the link -- which shows the actual footage you can watch with your own eyes), this is what happened.
Without any provocation whatsoever, other than the bodies of these students sitting where they were on the ground, with their arms linked, police pepper-sprayed students," wrote Nathan Brown, an assistant professor in the college's English Department, in an open letter to the chancellor. He said that police then used batons to separate the students, kneeled on their bodies and pushed their heads to the ground.
"When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats," Brown wrote.
My oldest child is a junior in high school. We're looking at colleges now. We've heard about the safety systems in place at many campuses -- blue lights all over campus, text and email alerts, campus security ... I'm always keenly interested in campus safety, in how they combat crime -- in particular violent crime -- and how each college intends to keep my child safe.
In the case of UC Davis this week, there was brutal and very public violence; the victims were students -- the brutal acts of violence were committed by campus police.
It's easy to imagine my daughter sitting at that peaceful protest. It's easy for me to imagine her being pepper-sprayed, her body knelt on, her head shoved into the ground ... She articulate, smart, passionate. She believes in things deeply. At a time in her life when she's challenged to examine issues and live her convictions -- things that a good college will try to instill in its students -- she could have joined a peaceful protest about things that matter to her.
According to a Davis wiki, a "California resident pays roughly $7,457 in fees each year, while an out-of-state student's yearly fees total $25,949. 'Fees' here is just tuition, and doesn't include the cost of books, insurance, housing, food, etc."
I would be paying $30-40,ooo a year -- and this is how you treat my child?
There have to be some lawsuits brewing.
Even if it hadn't been my own child, how would I be able to write the next tuition check?
Alumni, how will you be able to write your next donation?
Is the next act of peaceful protest to write no checks to UC Davis at all?
We hand our children over. We hand our savings over. We do this because the university convinces us that our children will not only be safe but thrive in the environment that the university has created. The students and parents of those students -- not just those violated but all students -- have had their trust broken. The violence and the chilling premeditation are going to have lasting repercussions.
This environment has been poisoned. I don't know how the administration intends to make it right, but they have to act fast and they have to be smart and bold. And I hope they know how much is at stake.
We're all watching.