“Since then, I have not met an officer I can call by name.”
students are suing fifty-six university employees for violating their constitutional and statutory rights, but the list of defendants only has six names on it.
Why? Because only one of the dozens of police officers who participated in the attack on the protesters has been identified by the university.
It’s more than three months after the incident. Video of the day’s events has been shown over and over again throughout the planet. But UC Davis still won’t tell its students which of its campus police officers brutalized them.
In addition to the pepper-spraying, which was conducted by two officers, the lawsuit alleges that one student was thrown to the ground where his head struck a lawn sprinkler fixture. Another was pinned down after having been pepper sprayed. Another was dragged, handcuffed, to a police car. Another was “slammed to the ground,” kneed, and kneeled on, then denied medical assistance.
None of the officers who engaged in these acts, other than the two who were videotaped pepper-spraying students without cause, have been suspended. As far as is publicly known, all are still at UC Davis, working alongside the sixteen plaintiffs who are still students there.
Josephine Miles wrote this poem at UC Berkeley, years ago. “Officers”:
Mr. Hansen, the cop at the campus gate,
Put me through college.
While the dean of women
Advised against it, too complicated, the cop said,
You get enrolled some way, and I’ll let you in.
Every morning, four years. On commencement day
I showed him my diploma.
Later when radio news announced Clark Kerr
President, my first rejoicing
Was with Mr. Taylor
At the campus gate. He shook hands
Joyfully, as I went in to a Marianne Moore reading.
And we exchanged over many years
Varying views of the weather.
Then on a dark night a giant officer came up to the car
When we were going to a senate meeting, strikebound by pickets,
And smashed his billy club down on the elbow of my student driver.
Where do you think you’re going? I suddenly saw I knew him.
It’s you, Mr. Graham, I mean it’s us, going to the meeting. He walked away,
Turning short and small, which he was, a compact man
Of great neatness.
Later when I taught in the basement corridor,
The fuzz came through,
Running, loosing tear-gas bombs in the corridor
To rise and choke in offices and classrooms,
Too late for escape. Their gas masks distorted their appearance
But they were Mr. O’Neill and Mr. Swenson.
Since then, I have not met an officer
I can call by name.
Thanks to Sue Schweik for reading this poem to us, and telling us about her.