Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Letter to California Governor Brown

"We carry a new world here, in our hearts. That world is growing in this minute."
Buenaventura Durruti

Dear Governor Brown,

As a former instructor at UCLA, I am gravely disturbed about the recent violence against students and protestors at the UC Davis campus, the UC Berkeley campus, in Oakland, and in other public places all over California. Growing up in the Civil Rights Era South, I witnessed many similar examples of terrible violence against regular people marching or sitting in for their rights. California people traditionally embrace and greatly value human rights and the dignity of every human being. That ideal was one essential reason that I moved with my family to California thirty years ago.

Those students at UC Davis were doing nothing dangerous, threatening or disruptive. The same for the students at Berkeley. The same for the Occupy people (mostly students) in Oakland and elsewhere. Why are the police allowed to get so violent? What authority controls the various police forces that have acted so violently? What do they fear from unarmed citizens standing and sitting in protest against economic and social problems in our state? What do the UC Davis administrators fear so much from fifty or so students hanging out in the quad? In that UC Davis case there were about as many police officers as there were students. What does the Mayor of Oakland fear from people gathering to protest in a public park? For those people in authority, what are their reasons for allowing violence to happen?

The police in Davis brutalized those kids. The police in Berkeley harassed and billy-clubbed those kids. The Oakland police by order of Mayor Quan attacked the Occupy people there. No matter what distorted justification their advisors come up with, these authorities are simply wrong in allowing this to happen. This kind of behavior is psychopathic.

Certainly you know the meaning of our Constitution's First Amendment: "... the right of the people peaceably to assemble. ..." As Governor you possess ultimate executive authority in California, so action is now necessary. Please ask the authorities who allowed the violence to hand in their resignations immediately.

Please take action now to protect the Occupy people statewide. Their voices for social justice need to be heard.

We are California. We must hold the highest standard for democracy.

Martin Pitts


Christine Gallo said...

California is lucky to have a governor more inclined to step in and take action, unfortunately that is not the case in most states across the country. The real tragedy is that we don't have a President who will take a stand, or put a stop to this police madness.

Whatever group (as has been reported) that has been coordinating information and responses by mayors, will now feel free to ratchet up the violence. Do none of them remember, or care, this could lead to another Kent State?

Thank you, Martin, for another insightful blog.

Stephen said...

Thanks for sending an email, which prompted me to check out your most recent post/letter to Brown. Having grown up in the 60s, this hits very close to home, and actually should for anyone. Just last night I had a dream about Joe Hill. Unfortunately what's happening in California and elsewhere is no dream, but a nightmare; and it's not 1915 but 2011, which adds to the tragedy. So I'll join in sending a letter to Brown and any others. Although it's only the written word, we know that even these actions can collectively make an impact. I often think of Steinbeck's Tom saying, "Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there...". And so must we, by any means we can, including written appeal. Thanks again Marty! sda