US Police used to recognize non-violent protest for what it was, and arrested and carried off protesters, when necessary, with a minimum of fuss. But the mass pepper spraying of UC Davis students last week represents a "radical departure" from that tradition, a dangerous "militarization" of police that is the result of the decades-long wars on drugs and terror, writes Bob Ostertag at the Huffington Post.
Ostertag takes issue with the university chancellor's claims the protest was "unsafe," and that there were no other options. "How is it that non-violent student protest has suddenly become 'unsafe' in the United States?" Ostertag asks. "The list of 'other options' is endless." But even bigger than campus security, the militarization of urban police goes "to the core of what democracy means," he writes. "No banker has been arrested, and certainly none have been pepper sprayed. Arrests and chemical assault is for those trying to defend their homes, their jobs, and their schools."