Well, yesterday was certainly interesting. In the morning I biked into Davis to go to the Farmer’s Market to pick up some goodies. It was a spectacular fall day – crisp – clear – a bit chilly – and I great day to be on a bike.
I got to the market, wandered through the crowd and bumped into a few colleagues and friends and was a bit stunned to find out that none of them had even heard about the pepper spraying incident the day before on UC Davis Campus. Wow. It had taken over my life in a way all night – see my post about it here: A day of almost pure joy in #DavisCA and at #UCDavis, until … #OccupyUCDavis
So I told them about the incident, and then did some shopping. It all seemed a bit surreal. I felt disconnected. So after filling up my panniers, I biked over to campus. The Quad at UC Davis – where the whole pepper spray incident had gone down – was eerily quiet.
- Went by #ucdavis quad today – hauntingly empty – but talked to protestor planning massive event Monday http://post.ly/3xByM
- Small crowd right now outside of surge II where #UCDavis press conference will be held soon #occupyucdavis http://pic.twitter.com/c0H2YzDl
- Oh well – just got told I cannot attend the #ucdavis press conference on pepper spray incident “room to small” #occupyucdavis
O got some responses including from MarilynM on twitter
Oh well. So I posted the pic with a complaint.
- More people asking to get in to press conference at #UCDavis #occupyucdavis http://pic.twitter.com/WlUcquMI
So I had now turned from someone who had hoped to ask questions and report on the press conference to someone who was going to report from the outside.
I then saw a TV truck pull by down the street and took a picture and posted it
- First TV truck I have seen show up #ucdavis #occupyucdavis http://pic.twitter.com/yWFaFBAc
And then Marilyn M responded
- MarilynM @phylogenomics do you know which station? (i tweeted all 4 in Sac to ask if they’d be there.)
- Fox40 truck is here #UCDavis #occupyucdavis @MarilynMhttp://pic.twitter.com/Di2oShJt
- Fox40 personnel says not sure if it will be covered live #UCDavis #occupyucdavis
- KCRA3 and News10 trucks have arrived along with a bicycle #UCDavis #occupyucdavis http://pic.twitter.com/EP1LeKYB
- Crowd growing a bit larger outside surgeII for press conference #UCDavis #occupyucdavis http://pic.twitter.com/7dZtcmhn
- Protestors apparently will hold their own press conference outside later #UCDavis #occupyucdavis http://yfrog.us/5isp8z
- Crowd surging outside Surge building #UCDavis #occupyucdavishttp://yfrog.us/2m5ccyz
- Students trying to disrupt press conference #UCDavis #occupyucdavis http://pic.twitter.com/ADQeqYyW
- Crowd growing and wants to be heard #ucdavis #occupyucdavishttp://yfrog.us/6xqmgz
- Some inappropriate things occasionally chanted by protestors but mostly respectful out here #UCDavis #occupyucdavis
- Continued student protests outside #ucdavis press conference #occupyucdavis http://yfrog.us/5z9mjz
I basically lingered outside the SurgeII building as the protestors tried to disrupt the press conference and have their voices be heard. While I was there I must say I was generally impressed with the OccupyUCDavis crowd. They were very upset about the pepper spraying but were trying to turn their anger into something useful. They wanted their voices to be heard. They very friendly overall, dedicated to peaceful protest mostly (there were some chants here and there that I did not like – like one calling for the police officer involved in the spraying to come out – but this chant was stopped quickly from within the crowd). And overall they seemed genuinely concerned with UC Davis and its future. They were also very very upset that the Chancellor did not choose to have a press conference where they could attend.
The crowd was also quite mixed in background. There were many undergrads and grad students there. But also post docs, faculty and others. I saw some faculty I knew and talked to them for a bit. And I saw a few students I knew too. The crowd eventually grew to be maybe a few hundred people.
And at one point they decided it was time to try and disrupt the press conference. They then proceeded to march from one side of the building to another where a door was open and they thought maybe they could be heard better through the door. I filmed the march:
Every once in a while during this someone would report on what was going on in the press conference which was live streaming on some channels. Cheers erupted when apparently the chanting from outside put the conference on hold. Information was pretty fluid outside the building. At one point someone went up and down the aisles of people saying the Hiliary Clinton had just called for Katehi to resign on twitter. I figured that must be misinformation, but it did get the crowd excited for a minute.
I filmed some other videos too
Eventually it was clear the press conference was over and Chancellor Katehi was looking for a way to get out of the building. The protestors clearly wanted to see her and engage her in some way and they waited and waited but no Katehi. They kept trying to coordinate placing people at the various exits to the building and at one point they were even allowed into the building through various entrances but I guess there were not allowed into the room where the press conference was happening.
I was impressed with how the crowd desperately wanted to be peaceful. They kept offering (in the form of chants) statements that they would give Katehi a clear way out of the building when she wanted to leave. And then another chant would break out saying something about how she should resign.
And then alas I had to go home to my kids. As I was getting ready to go the crowd was trying to form a line of sorts in which Katehi would be allowed to pass if she came out.
And then it was time for me to go
- Got to leave #UCDavis #occupyucdavis scene – protestors seemed#rightfullyangry #peaceful #mostlyreasonable #abitreactionary #passionate
Overall I left being very impressed with the OccupyUCDavis protestors. I still did not agree with the call for Katehi to resign. I guess I want(ed) more information about who decided what. And that is why I wanted to go to the press conference. I was going there open to the possibility that she made mistakes but that the most egregious ones may have ben made by others. I still have not seen the press conference so I am going to check it out and see if it adds anything to the story. In the end, I think she has been such a great Chancellor so far that I am going into this willing to wait for more details before joining the choruses calling for resignation.
Though I note – I am so far extremely disappointed with the UCD responses to the incident and extremely disturbed by the incident itself. There must be major changes and they should not wait for a 90 day investigation. It seems pretty clear that the truth is not emerging from the UC Davis officials – it is only coming out via video and interviews and posts from the protestors and witnesses. From what I can tell the UCD police are definitely being deceptive and/or completely dishonest about what happened. I personally have ben unsure whether the UCD administration is doing the same. But it certainly is starting to seem like a possibility. I think the jobs of many of the UCD higher ups involved in this hang by a thin thread right now. But when I left the protests, I was not willing to say we should cut that thread just yet. I wanted to be measured in response to the outrageous unmeasured actions of the UCD police.
So I went home. And then I saw the most amazing thing. The video of the response of the protestors to Katehi leaving the building is incredible. An absolutely amazing show of solidarity, peace and wisdom.
All I can say is – wow. An iconic moment. Though I was not there for the actual moment I felt like I was there in spirit. The OccupyUCDavis protestors in a single moment have made a statement that will last forever. And they alone seem to be the ones carrying the torch for a restoration of the good name of UC Davis that has been plunged into the depths by this crisis. It is these silent protestors that hold the spirit of the University. Whose University? Our University.