Thursday, March 8, 2012
This Is What A Police State Looks Like -- with UPDATE
This incident occurred after the rally at the Capitol on Monday, after I left briefly and I had no idea it had taken place. I witnessed a confrontation with these people and the police across the street from the Capitol grounds as the marchers were assembling at the West Steps in the morning, and I saw a number of confrontations between these people and the police during the day. I didn't realize that this incident took place after the rally. What happened on the Capitol grounds as documented in the video above is much more disturbing than what I saw taking place earlier.
I'm familiar with the behavior of the Capitol Detail of the California Highway Patrol since I have been at -- probably -- more than a hundred demonstrations at the Capitol and have dealt directly with the CHP there many times. Generally speaking, they are polite but firm. There are Rules, you see, and they are there to Enforce the Rules. But what I'm seeing in this video is nothing like their usual behavior. They did not, for example, ordinarily use horse police to intimidate and force people off the grounds. They do require competing demonstrations to keep their distance from one another, and generally will not allow members of competing demonstrations on the grounds without a permit during their rival's demonstration. Ordinarily when they enforce that rule, they do it with a good deal of consideration and respect.
But here we have a case of people who came from Oakland, members of the Oakland Commune - Occupy Oakland, in support of the March in March Occupy the Capitol march and rally, not in opposition or in competition with it. Their point of view about the reasons for state cutbacks in education funding -- ie: in order to ensure prison funding is not cut or can even increase -- is spot on. This is something no one else who spoke at the rally even touched on. But everyone knows it's true. It's obvious as sin.
What's wrong in this incident is that people who were there in support of the March in March/Occupy the Capitol were forced off the grounds several times during the day, and it was done in this instance contrary to the way it would ordinarily have been done had these people been trying to conduct a competing demonstration. ("Demonstrating without a permit" is against one of those Rules the CHP Capitol Detail enforces.)
The male rider who comes in to the scene and tells the people from Oakland to get out is (I believe) the same officer -- from Chico police dept, not from CHP -- who used his horse to intimidate people (including me) who were trying to document the detention and questioning of the fellow dressed in black and carrying an iconic Oakland Move In Day shield who was pulled out of the march almost a block from the Capitol. The female rider may also be from another agency, though I wasn't certain. She was with the male rider throughout the day.
The bike officers and the khaki-attired officers are all CHP, but my understanding is that many were not ordinarily assigned to the Capitol. At no other time did I witness the bike officers or the khaki-clad officers try to intimidate anyone, though they did use... let's call it "persuasion" from time to time.
The behavior of the horse police -- especially -- in this video (which I picked up over at zunguzungu today) is really very disturbing to me. This is not the way it has been done (with a couple of exceptions I can think of from years ago, exceptions that led to lawsuits and settlements) previously, and it is not the way law enforcement officers in a free society should behave. And to behave this way toward people who were there in support of the education demonstration -- apparently because they were from Oakland and knew their rights and were loud -- was perverse.
This is what a truly insidious police state looks like.
BTW, I'm so old that I didn't pay tuition or more than token fees (well, they didn't seem so "token" at the time!) to obtain public higher education in California. It was the policy of the state to provide tuition-free higher education for any qualified applicant (who could find space and be admitted; colleges and the university were crowded) at Community College, State College (it was not yet State University) or the University of California. This concept was actually pioneered at Stanford (a private university), which initially did not charge tuition either, but by the time I applied there, the tuition was horrendous, as it continues to be. These days, the claim is made that it costs students more to attend the California State Universities than it costs students at Harvard -- or Stanford for that matter. This has a profound effect on the future -- to say the least. Of course, in my day, the prison system didn't gobble up so much of the state budget, either.
[Note: this post has been edited to reflect my current understanding of when the video was recorded] [Occupy Oakland sign carrier in video above is named Christopher Morley]
UPDATE: The video below is a follow up to the events in the video above. A young girl was nearly trampled by the horse ridden by Officer Norman Lane (sp?) from Chico -- the officer who kept saying "git-git" in the video above. Members of the crowd and the girl's mother demand that he apologize. He does, though he won't get off his high horse (Clydesdales are rather large and all.) Other incidents are also recorded on the video below.
Video streaming by Ustream