Wednesday, October 23, 2013

shame.


Macing dozens of students in the face can be stressful, according to former UC Davis police Lt. John Pike--so stressful, in fact, that Pike is receiving $38,056 for "psychiatric injuries" and legal fees.

Pike filed his disability claims earlier this year, nearly one year after he was officially fired from the UCPD. Pike had been on administrative leave with pay for eight months prior to being let go.

The incident at the root of Mr. Pike's health problems? This:


On Nov. 18, 2011 during a demonstration at UC Davis to protest rising tuition costs at what was intended to be a free and public set of campuses for California students, Pike doused dozens of students with a can of pepper spray.

In this particular protest, which was part of a growing Occupy movement spreading across California college campuses during 2011, students had set up tents on the quad, which Chancellor Katehi had ordered to be removed citing safety reasons. When police arrived in riot gear and began making arrests, students sat on the ground and linked arms in protest.

The students didn't resist or fight back. In other videos of the protest from that day, there is no violence, just the typical protest scene so common on UC campuses since the absurd 32% mid-year fee hikes in 2009. The anger that boiled up in the autumn of 2011 across UCs was fueled by the success of the Occupy Wall Street movement at the time, and it only made sense: if anyone had been getting screwed over in California since then-Governor Reagan ordered Clark Kerr's removal as UC President in 1967, it was the students.

via Davis Enterprise
I'm not arguing that protests and sit-ins are always the solution to getting your voice heard. If you know me, you know where I stand: simply put, the argument between "action before education" vs. "education before action" has always been the key debate that has destroyed many a movement, but the students had a right to be on that quad that day. What they did not have a right to is the painful consequences of the lack of restraint shown by UC police officers.

In a statement about Pike's disability reward--the result of Pike's claims that he received threats of violence in various forms after the video of the incident went viral--UC Davis spokesman Andy Fell said in a statement, "This case has been resolved in accordance with state law and processes on workers' compensation."

When you add up how much Pike is receiving from his disability claim along with the money he made while on "paid administrative leave" after the incident, he'll have gotten more money than the students he brutalized that day in 2011.

Apparently, that's not enough for him.

Mr. Pike should be ashamed to have requested compensation. Harassment and threats are obviously not helpful responses to what he did, and there is no excusing those actions by angry citizens--but perhaps the anger that resulted from what he did should be enough to send him the message that what he did was wrong. Instead, it's as if he lacks the ability to see the wrongdoing he committed. It's greedy and selfish, and tells the world that he has no remorse for what he did.

On an end note, I think we would all be wise to also remember what happened the day following the pepper-spraying incident after Chancellor Katehi gave a news conference inside a UC Davis building. After speaking, she refused to step outside for hours while hundreds of protesters gathered. When she finally emerged from the building, the students cleared a pathway and stood quietly as she walked to her car.

Their silence is powerful:


Days later, Chancellor Katehi attended a student rally and apologized, explaining her orders were for no arrests and no police force and promised nothing like what Pike did would ever happen again. 

And though her words cannot ensure incidents like this are past the UCs' days, an apology is a step--which is much more than one could say for Pike, who never issued an apology, but rather defended himself during an internal review: "Grappling [with students] would have escalated the force, whereas pepper spray took 'the fight out of them.'"

I guess his words are speaking as loud as his actions on this one.