On Wednesday November 16, you issued a letter by email to the campus community. In this letter, you discussed a hate crime which occurred at UC Davis on Sunday November 13. In this letter, you express concern about the safety of our students. You write, “it is particularly disturbing that such an act of intolerance should occur at a time when the campus community is working to create a safe and inviting space for all our students.” You write, “while these are turbulent economic times, as a campus community, we must all be committed to a safe, welcoming environment that advances our efforts to diversity and excellence at UC Davis.”
I will leave it to my colleagues and every reader of this letter to decide what poses a greater threat to “a safe and inviting space for all our students” or “a safe, welcoming environment” at UC Davis: 1) Setting up tents on the quad in solidarity with faculty and students brutalized by police at UC Berkeley? or 2) Sending in riot police to disperse students with batons, pepper-spray, and tear-gas guns, while those students sit peacefully on the ground with their arms linked? Is this what you have in mind when you refer to creating “a safe and inviting space?” Is this what you have in mind when you express commitment to “a safe, welcoming environment?”
I am writing to tell you in no uncertain terms that there must be space for protest on our campus. There must be space for political dissent on our campus. There must be space for civil disobedience on our campus. There must be space for students to assert their right to decide on the form of their protest, their dissent, and their civil disobedience—including the simple act of setting up tents in solidarity with other students who have done so. There must be space for protest and dissent, especially, when the object of protest and dissent is police brutality itself. You may not order police to forcefully disperse student protesters peacefully protesting police brutality. You may not do so. It is not an option available to you as the Chancellor of a UC campus. That is why I am calling for your immediate resignation.
There are many opinions on the merits of allowing or not allowing the OccupyCal encampment. However, UCPD was tasked by the Administration with enforcing the campus policy, and as a result, unfortunate and regrettable confrontations occurred. These confrontations were captured on video, and consequently have engendered concern in the wider community regarding use of force by officers.
I have personally seen many, but not all, of the videos posted, and I too am concerned about the clashes depicted between police and Occupy protesters. I very much understand the concern and anger that these images have created. I also understand that, though the videos are snapshots in time as to what was going on in the moment, they are not capturing all activity and do not capture what occurred prior to the snippets of video. In order to accurately and factually respond to the questions and anger, UCPD has initiated an Operational Review to be conducted by the Police Review Board (PRB), which will encompass all aspects of the incidents, from the approach to enforcement and general response to the OccupyCal encampment, to the specific causes of the use of force aspects of the clashes between the police and the OccupyCal protesters.
I will look to the Operational Review to provide a summary of lessons learned and a thorough review of our applicable policies, and to point to other approaches that will minimize confrontations in future protest activities. Each protest is unique but best practices can be identified and applied to future protest activity. We are currently gathering all generated reports, copies of radio transmissions, police video, news video, YouTube video, etc. and will be reaching out to percipient witnesses to obtain a comprehensive overview so the questions and issues raised can be adequately addressed.
Due to the volume of information and contacts that will need to be made this will take some time. I will also reach out to the Police Review Board Chair to share our progress, findings, and recommendations, as well provide assistance to any review the PRB deems necessary to pursue.
A well-known Washington lobbying firm with links to the financial industry has proposed an $850,000 plan to take on Occupy Wall Street and politicians who might express sympathy for the protests, according to a memo obtained by the MSNBC program “Up w/ Chris Hayes.”
The proposal was written on the letterhead of the lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford and addressed to one of CLGC’s clients, the American Bankers Association.
CLGC’s memo proposes that the ABA pay CLGC $850,000 to conduct “opposition research” on Occupy Wall Street in order to construct “negative narratives” about the protests and allied politicians. The memo also asserts that Democratic victories in 2012 would be detrimental for Wall Street and targets specific races in which it says Wall Street would benefit by electing Republicans instead.
According to the memo, if Democrats embrace OWS, “This would mean more than just short-term political discomfort for Wall Street. … It has the potential to have very long-lasting political, policy and financial impacts on the companies in the center of the bullseye.”
The memo also suggests that Democratic victories in 2012 should not be the ABA’s biggest concern. “… (T)he bigger concern,” the memo says, “should be that Republicans will no longer defend Wall Street companies.”
Part of the plan CLGC proposes is to do “statewide surveys in at least eight states that are shaping up to be the most important of the 2012 cycle.”
Specific races listed in the memo are U.S. Senate races in Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin, Ohio, New Mexico and Nevada as well as the gubernatorial race in North Carolina.
The memo indicates that CLGC would research who has contributed financial backing to OWS, noting that, “Media reports have speculated about associations with George Soros and others.”
“It will be vital,” the memo says, “to understand who is funding it and what their backgrounds and motives are. If we can show that they have the same cynical motivation as a political opponent it will undermine their credibility in a profound way.”
Watch the MSNBC-report by Chris Hayes:
So don’t be surprised if you see a surge of “anti-OWS” comments in the comment sections on websites. Such strategies already seem to be “standard-practice” with PR-firms, and especially sites like Huffington Post seem to be infested with such obvious PR-comments. The PR-firm in the case against OWS uses phrases like “targeted social media monitoring” which certainly relate to such common practises:
NextGov.com is reporting that the FBI will begin rolling out its Next Generation Identification (NGI) facial recognition service as early as this January. Once NGI is fully deployed and once each of its approximately 100 million records also includes photographs, it will become trivially easy to find and track Americans.
As we detailed in an earlier post, NGI expands the FBI’s IAFIS criminal and civil fingerprint database to include multimodal biometric identifiers such as iris scans, palm prints, photos, and voice data. The Bureau is planning to introduce each of these capabilities in phases (pdf, p.4) over the next two and a half years, starting with facial recognition in four states—Michigan, Washington, Florida, and North Carolina—this winter.
Why Should We Be Worried?
Despite the FBI’s claims to the contrary, NGI will result in a massive expansion of government data collection for both criminal and noncriminal purposes. IAFIS is already the largest biometric database in the world—it includes 70 million subjects in the criminal master file and more than 31 million civil fingerprints. Even if there are duplicate entries or some overlap between civil and criminal records, the combined number of records covers close to 1/3 the population of the United States. When NGI allows photographs and other biometric identifiers to be linked to each of those records, all easily searchable through sophisticated search tools, it will have an unprecedented impact on Americans’ privacy interests.
Although IAFIS currently includes some photos, they have so far been limited specifically to mug shots linked to individual criminal records. However, according to a 2008 Privacy Impact Assessment for NGI’s Interstate Photo System, NGI will allow unlimited submission of photos and types of photos. Photos won’t be limited to frontal mug shots but may be taken from other angles and may include close-ups of scars, marks and tattoos. NGI will allow all levels of law enforcement, correctional facilities, and criminal justice agencies at the local, state, federal and even international level to submit and access photos, and will allow them to submit photos in bulk. Once the photos are in the database, they can be found easily using facial recognition and text-based searches for distinguishing characteristics.
The new NGI database will also allow law enforcement to submit public and private security camera photos that may or may not be linked to a specific person’s record. This means that anyone could end up in the database—even if they’re not involved in a crime— by just happening to be in the wrong place at the wrong time or by, for example, engaging in political protest activities in areas like Lower Manhattan that are rife with security cameras.
First they came for the hippies,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a hippy.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Iraq War veterans,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t an Iraq War Veteran.
Then they came for the 84 year old ladies,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t 84 years old.
Then they came for the pregnant ladies,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t pregnant.
Then they came for the college students,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t in college.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
The protest initially involved about 50 students, Spicuzza said, but swelled to about 200 as the confrontation with police escalated.
She said officers were forced to use pepper spray when students surrounded them. They used a sweeping motion on the group, per procedure, to avoid injury, she said.
The students were informed repeatedly ahead of time that if they didn’t move, force would be used, she said.
“There was no way out of that circle,” Spicuzza said. “They were cutting the officers off from their support. It’s a very volatile situation.”
UPDATE 4 – BREAKING NEWS:
+++New protests at UC Davis+++
“NOW: Hundreds of students form human barrier at UC Davis preventing university chancellor and police chief from leaving campus building.”