Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Politics of Pepper Spray and Tear Gas from Egypt to America David Swanson, Kevin Zeese, Prof. Nathan Brown,

Talk Nation Radio for November 24, 2011

The Politics of Pepper Spray and Tear Gas from Egypt to America
David Swanson, Kevin Zeese, Nathan Brown, UC Davis (ABC News Photo, story, see made in America tear gas canisters found in Egypt. See also, here Egypt protests and Arab Spring: Nov 24, 2011).

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Produced by Dori Smith in Storrs, CT
TRT: 29:15
Download at Pacifica's Audioport here or at and
Clip: The Guardian's Jack Shenker in Cairo 11-19-2011, from this story (Egypt: violent clashes in Cairo leave two dead and hundreds injured, Egyptian security forces open fire on thousands of protesters in Tahrir Square, leaving two dead and more than 600 injured.Monday 21 November 2011 13.44 EST)

Protests around the world have been met with increasing force from police and military from Tahrir Square in Egypt to the campuses of Berkley and UC Davis in California. One of the biggest concerns is the use of tear gas, and American students and their teachers and parents are speaking out against the heavy use of pepper spray by police who were called in to disperse peaceful student protesters. Their refusal to leave led police to get out their pepper spray and go back and forth across a row of seated young people, spraying the toxin directly into their faces again and again. In the video it is obvious that none of the students were offering any resistance, they were sitting there with eyes squinted shut stoically.

A petition by Professor Nathan Brown who teaches English at UC Davis has been gathering momentum. According to Brown, police not only went back and forth spraying pepper spray into the faces of students, they also sprayed pepper spray into their mouths after forcing them open.

The scandal has rocked the campus and parents and students are deeply traumatized. As we hear from Brown though, the main story of tuition hikes and privatization is being overlooked. (See detailed links below.)

Students and professors at UC Berkley and UC Davis campuses in California say they feel terrorized by police. Students and professors alike have become the target of what our guest Professor Nathan Brown calls police brutality. Brown also says the problem is in the way private money is pouring in. There are tuition hikes planned, and students are facing what appears to be an 80% rate hike. Ultimately the added revenue may not even be used for educational purposes, and all of this is happening at a time when students and their parents can ill afford to pay high tuition fees, and there is little or no certainty that a job is awaiting graduates.

As we hear in the interview, students were protesting both the treatment of other students at Berkley, and the fact that the new fees for tuition could be used to back construction bonds. (We will try to get the content transcribed this week).

Nathan Brown's research and teaching focus is on 20th and 21st century poetry and poetics, continental philosophy, and science/technology studies. He is in the English Dept. at UC Davis. His petition calling on UC Davis Chancellor Katehi to resign had about 73000 signatures as of noon November 23rd.

Activists David Swanson and Kevin Zeese also join us. They are in Washington D.C. where the Occupy Washington DC movement has been joined by Occupy Wall Street protesters (Occupy the Highways) who walked from New York to the nation’s capital.

Kevin Zeese joins us from a protest under way at the Hart Building November 23, 2011, calling attention to the reality that the Super Committee could have addressed the deficit through easy steps were it not for political gridlock in Congress. See video here. Zeese discusses the proposal they drafted to challenge Congress to do better. He explains one way of balancing the budget involving application of a low 1% tax on investments. That could help bring in a large portion of the money needed to pay off the deficit, and it wouldn't hurt Wall Street. In fact, fixing the budget deficit problems might actually help stocks do better in the long run, thereby garnering more profit for investors, more stability in the markets.

Protesters are also expected to turn out in large numbers on December 6th for a day of action for the Occupy Wall Street movement over Foreclosures. The group pointing out that nowhere is this disparity of wealth and power more evident than in the struggle to secure the human right to housing. See "Wall Street Goes Home" here.

See Petition below asking UC Davis Chancellor Katehi to resign, including the Davis Faculty Association and thousands more from the campus community

Press Release, Nathan Brown's Petition Causing a Stir
November 22, 2011

David Buscho was sitting peacefully on a sidewalk, linking arms with other students in protest at the University of California at Davis. The disturbing video shows a campus police officer in riot gear calmly walk up to the students on the ground and attack them with pepper spray at point-blank range.

Occupy protests at other campuses have gone on peacefully, but UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi allowed her campus police to ruthlessly attack students who were sitting silently on the sidewalk.

UC Davis professor Nathan Brown gave a chilling account of what happened to David and other students: "When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats," Brown said. "Several of these students were hospitalized."

Now David is leading a campaign on demanding that Chancellor Katehi resign from the school for allowing her students to be attacked by campus police during a peaceful protest. Add your name to his petition now.

David has been active in his city's protests as part of the national Occupy Wall Street movement. This month he and other students started an occupation of their campus, specifically protesting an 81% increase in tuition costs and rising student loan debts.
But just 10 days into their occupation, UC Davis police unleashed an attack on their own students. "Chancellor Katehi authorized excessive police force on students exercising their right to free speech on our own campus," said David.

The UC Davis community won't stand for it. In just 24 hours, more than 40,000 people have joined David's campaign calling on UC Davis Chancellor Katehi to resign, including the Davis Faculty Association and thousands more from the campus community. Rather than consider resigning, Chancellor Katehi tried to downplay the event, merely asking a task force to prepare a report within 90 days. Now Chancellor Katehi is under huge pressure to step down for this attack, and your signature will help tip the scales.
Please sign David's petition asking UC Davis Chancellor Katehi to step down for pepper-spraying her own students. Click here to add your name.

Background information on privatization of America's universities, in particular state schools, corporations, why tuition keeps going up, and colleges becoming more in sync with the business world than academia: , research links recommended by Nathan Brown, 1.) Keeping California's Promise, Samuels, They Pledged Your Tuition to Wall Street (summary), UC on Wall Street: Another Reason Your Tuition Goes Up, Bob Meister, President, Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA) Professor of Political and Social Thought, here, UCSC Professor Charles Schwartz, UC Berkley here and here and Bob Samuels, Cal State Los Angeles, here and here.

Sample Letter to PA Tear Gas Company

Nov. 22, 2011

We call on Combined Systems to cancel its sales to the military regime running Egypt and suspend any deliveries to those armed forces. It's dictatorial rule violates all democratic norms. The regime killed thousands of people in January and over 30 in this last week. Huge amounts of your tear gas have been used in Tahrir Square against democratic forces. Photos of your shells are freely circulating on the internet. At least 3 people have been alleged to have asphyxiated from tear gas in the last week.

You should also consider legal consequences. You may be participating in crimes against humanity.

Stanley Heller
Middle East Crisis Committee
Woodbridge, CT

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