Monday, November 21, 2011

The Kent State Moment

Watching the students being doused with pepper spray at UC Davis reminded me of the iconic photo of the Kent State massacre in 1970, the pic that brought the war home to me, and many others. I remember seeing it on the front page of the Boston Globe that morning; it both turned my stomach and alarmed me. "Dammit, they're shooting us now!" I remember thinking. A lot of other students across the country had similar thoughts, and students began to strike at dozens of campuses across the country that day.

The war ended five years later with the fall of Saigon, but I never forgot that spring day when death greeted me in the morning. Over the weekend, I had another image capture my attention; this time, fortunately, less violent, but no less compelling:

As much as I'm angered by the actions of the UC Davis campus police, I think they've just given the Occupy movement a rare gift. There's nothing like the image of peaceful protestors being abused by authority figures to give a grassroots movement a vital push, and now we have that picture. Painful as it is now, over time, the image of those peacefully resisting, nonviolent students, and that swaggering, sadistic cop dousing them with pepper spray, will become the image of the Occupy movement. I hope and pray that those who were sprayed fully recover with no lasting effects. I also pray that the Occupy movement is successful.


Anonymous said...

Agree w/ all you said so well,Steve. I also remember that day in 1970. Two things irk me though: 1)The student's chant "Don't Shoot students", when there was nothing like that going on, almost seemed like a provocation to the cops and, yes, an allusion to Kent State. Glory seeking? 2)That there seemed to be nearly as many people recording the event (w/ v. expensive gear) as demonstrating. Drone protests? Remember, "The revolution will not be televised"? The Revolution has is television (recording/passive participation) Happy Thanksgiving dbw

Anonymous said...

I understand the chanting of "don't shoot students" coming off of what happened in Oakland (not too far from UC Davis) with rubber bullets and tear gas cannisters.

Strong said...

I'm waiting to see how this plays out with the chancellor and the campus police chief. The most egregious actions of the police aren't readily available online, but I'm looking.

FreeSprirtedRuminations said...

Peaceful students being hosed down with pepper spray was appalling, but it will be a defining moment and video that will only help the movement. I too hope they will all recover and find a renewed strength. Nicely said.