Berkeley, CA Protests Showcase The Worse: An Opinion Piece

Normally, In Loco Politico would write an article describing the atrocities Berkeley PD committed last night on peaceful protestors, but our words would fall short to the power that this video carries. The students in this video were peaceably protesting against the verdicts in the Eric Garner and Mike Brown Grand Juries. I’d like to encourage anyone who comes across this video to view it and share it.

I myself am a UC student. No, I’m not a UC student at the Berkeley campus but nonetheless, UC Berkeley is my sister campus. The UC student body is one. There is so much interconnectedness between the students at all campuses and this blatant attack on UC Berkeley students is an attack on all of us. I support officers, I support the law, so long as they respect the oath they took to serve and protect their communities. These officers did not. “Who do you protect?”

Protestor with Cal sweatshirt attacked.

To me, the most shocking part of this video was at 02:14, when an officer threatens a protestor who was posing no threat to him. After the threat, the officer flashed a grin, almost as if he were enjoying himself. Every time an officer took a hit at a student protestor, I found my body jolting back. Before the end of the video my vision seemed a bit blurry, it took me a while to realize that my eyes had gathered tears. It seemed like a scene from a bad horror movie, and the victims wore blood covered Cal sweatshirts.

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Out of all of the protests and violent police responses, this is the one that has hit me the hardest. It puts things into perspective when these events hit close to home. We see these events happening on television to other people and we form opinions, but its a different dynamic when you look at these things and see your fellow students or friends being the ones who are suffering from the brutality of the officers. It’s impossible not to cringe at the sight of a small female body falling under batons and heavy police uniform.

However shocking, this isn’t the first time we see police officers use excessive force and disproportionate responses to student protests. Let’s rewind the clock back to November 18, 2011 when Lt. John Pike of UCPD located on the Davis campus used military grade pepper spray on students who were seated in a line, protesting against budget cuts and tuition hikes. That incident caused anger all over the United States and an investigation was immediately launched. However, despite the fact that his acts were absolutely ludicrous and uncalled for, Lt. Pike was suspended with pay and had no official charges filed. He left the UCPD the following year, with no clear reports regarding whether he was fired of left on his own. The investigation into his actions found that he wasn’t justified in pepper spraying the students, but again, no charges filed.

So, what can be done? We’re always talking about the problem but never really discuss solutions. We know police brutality still occurs, we’ve seen proof. News outlets and politicians are constantly speaking out about the atrocities U.S. citizens are suffering, but where are the solutions? I challenge people to think critically. I challenge YOU to write down your thoughts on how this culture of violence and murder can be stopped and mail them to your Representative, your Senator, the President or post them on your Facebook and Twitter. Whatever it takes, bring exposure, start a movement.

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