Protesters = higher ground

You have to wonder what UC Davis officials were thinking when they allowed a peaceful band of students to be attacked by riot-clad police with a chemical gas last Friday evening. When the appalling video footage went viral on the Internet, UC Davis quickly became a symbol of police brutality, ineptitude, and the unapprised isolation of the powerful. (Are you listening, Chancellor Linda Katehi?)

The event also became a rallying cry against the militarization of college campuses. In a compelling article posted on The Huffington Post the day after the attack, UCD Technocultural Studies professor Bob Ostertag revealed how many of the victims of the unprovoked attack were his students, he wrote, his top students. Katehi should have thanked these young people for practicing their civic duty by pointing out that economic equality is, among other things, dismantling higher education, he said. Instead, she approved their forced removal. Meanwhile, “No banker has been arrested [for the greed that caused the economic crisis],” Ostertag noted, “and certainly none have been pepper sprayed.”

What’s the take-home lesson from the UCD debacle? The Occupy student protesters consistently held the higher ground.

When the throng of protesters somehow managed to peaceably maneuver police to retreat off the campus quad after the shocking tear-gas attack? That’s higher ground. When the same group discovered the location of Katehi’s next-day press conference, surrounded it with protesters calling for her resignation, and then allowed her to depart, in deafening silence, through their linked-arms pathway? That’s higher ground.

We commend the student protesters on the UC Davis campus—we’re proud of them. They’re just one sign of an Occupy movement that is only going to grow stronger as we move into 2012.