By now most media-indulgent Americans have witnessed the nonchalant pepper spraying of protesting students at the University of California Davis campus. And, if you are anything like most level-headed citizens, you were appropriately appalled. Much like the Penn State atrocities, this event sent a chain reaction through the campus police force. All 10 UC campuses are assessing their law enforcement as the two officers responsible, along with their chief, are being placed on administrative leave. The sloppy handling of these protests and sit-ins is blazing out of control and if it continues on this route, someone is bound to get hurt.
I know, I know–violence toward student protestors is such a drag. “We’d much rather hear about the Hots and Nots of the American Music Awards!” Don’t worry, we’ll get there. It’s an important event to harp on for a bit, especially because of the way it was implemented. Not that this kind of thing hasn’t happened before–to peaceful protestors in the same movement, in fact–but this scene will resonate for quite some time. The officer in question, Campus Police Lieutenant John Pike, has become a bit of an internet meme as of late. Web trolls and bloggers have been cutting out his picture and implementing it in various scenarios, much like web celeb Chuck Testa.
The images are either mocking the protestors or poking fun at the insanity and brazen inhumanity of the event itself.
Pundits will spin this event any way they choose, but the fact of the matter is that this should change the movement. It should strengthen and anger those who’ve spent the past several weeks camped out for a cause they believe in so strongly; to seek solidarity with those shocked and horrified by these police actions. It should make their resolve burn like the “non-lethal-except-for-sometimes-but-we-won’t-talk-about-that” spray that doused their comrades. But it won’t.
The Occupy movement has become a caricature of itself; founded on principles of equality and accountability, the protestors have simply created their own hipster distopia. It’s human nature, engrained in all of us, the natural instinct to argue, fight, one-up, and prove we’re right. It’s not even necessarily about being right, but simply coming out on top. When the disjointed message of the Occupy movement reached a point where nobody was talking about the same things anymore, and small offshoots of the movement sprung up anywhere and everywhere just for the fuck of it, it lost steam.
Now, all that’s left of a genuine people’s movement is a bunch of kids with arms locked being showered with 5 million SHU of OC.
No longer do we see “Students Protesting Accountability for Corporations and Wall Street Occupy University Campus,” we see, “Police Violently Punish Hippies.” The entire movement has lost approval and credibility because the theatrics and arrests have taken center stage.
There are, however, real changes attempting to push through the government (good luck). An “Occupy” bill has been introduced calling for an end to Corporations being able to fund political campaigns. Now, while this would be a huge victory for #Occupy, it means that every loophole declaring Corporations as individuals/people would have to be closed. This won’t happen. How do you expect a government run and managed by financial institutions and corporate interests to vote into law a proposal that seeks to eliminate those same interests?
An uphill battle is being fought. If Occupy seeks to gain ground, they must take action. The hearts and common decency of the American people are, for the most part, behind them. But they won’t be forever. We will forever fight against our best interests, until the next fad comes along promising more jobs, a strong and efficient middle class, or just inches to our penises.