Sunday, November 20, 2011

Police Violence: The New Normal in America

Recent actions by police at Occupy encampments and student protests shows what happens when state violence goes unpunished. The new normal in America is that the police feel justified to inflict pain on nonviolent protesters, and the roots of this change have to be connected to the redefinition of torture as enhanced interrogation. Moreover, the Obama administration's decision not to hold any members of the Bush's torture regime responsible has set the stage for the use of police violence without fear of retaliation.

While we are not used to thinking of the U.S. as a police state, every day sees a new move in that direction. It is now commonplace for police to show up at peaceful protests dressed in full riot gear ready to baton, pepper spray, and intimidate citizens employing their constitutional rights of free speech and free assembly. Of course, the ruling class, including President Obama, has been silent on this issue.

Just as torture has been renamed enhanced interrogation, so has nonviolent resistance been redefined as violence. These actions can only result in a de-legitimization of politics as we descend into a police state. However, the protesters know that the only way to get their message to the masses is to allow for the police to inflict pain because in our media, if it bleeds, it leads. The end result is, as Chris Hedges has argued, all of our "liberal" institutions (the media, the Democratic party, the universities) lose their legitimacy.

A new generation of Americans has now grown up in this police-media-political context, and even though young people are used to communicating on the disembodied Web, they are putting their bodies on the line to make our country wake up. The failure of the political class to respond in any rational way only pours fuel on the fire, and while it may be too soon to talk about a second American revolution, the current dynamic is generating major social unrest. We camp, they beat us, and we return.

All out to Davis!


  1. Where are the UC Regents in all this--how many of them are members of the super-rich??

  2. Now that police brutality has targeted privileged students, people are finally realizing that it happens on a daily basis all over the country, disproportionately targeting people of color. Police brutality is not the "new normal," it has been a fact of life for many Americans for far too long. Maybe now is the time to change it. Can we make that change?

  3. UC Chancellors are the problem not campus police. UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau campus police deploy baton jabs on students protesting tuition increases. Campus UCPD report to chancellors and take direction from their chancellor. University of California campus chancellors vet their campus police protocols. Chancellors are knowledgeable that pepper spray and use of batons are included in their campus police protocols.

    Chancellor Birgeneau’s campus police use baton jabs on his students. UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau and UC Davis Chancellor are in dereliction of their duties.

    UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau and UC Davis Chancellor need to quit or be
    fired for permitting the brutal outrages on students protesting tuition increases
    and student debt

    Opinions? Email the UC Board of Regents

  4. I think all police should have a legal online continuing education and certification courses for their chosen careers to help them learn how to become a good police model to other people and to those citizens that they should be protecting.

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