Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bad Day on the Quad Revisited

The Reynoso Report is out...

The use of OC spray on passively resisting Occupy demonstrators at UC Davis in November 2011 certainly looked like the application of excessive force.  Seems a task force helmed by retired state Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso agreed.

"Our overriding conclusion can be stated briefly and explicitly. The pepper spraying incident that took place on November 18, 2011 should and could have been prevented."

The report (the bulk of which the Kroll investigation contained in the appendix) is sharply critical of the administration and the police, but makes it clear that responsibility for the incident is shared by the trustees of the university, administrators, the chief of the police department, members of its command structure, and Lt. John Pike who actually pulled the trigger on the OC dispenser.

It was a bad day on the quad for everyone except the Occupy Movement, who scored a gratuitous public relations coup.  But it could have been worse.  Choreographing an appropriate response to passive resistance and civil disobedience is not an escalation of force issue.  It calls for cool heads and resolute hearts.  The situation could have gone very badly wrong - a Kent State sort of wrong, no thanks to the actions, inactions, abdications, and bad calls of those in authority at UC Davis that day.

In the words of Sgt. Esterhaus, "Let's be careful out there."

Image by Louise Macabitas