Bill passed to protect student protesters

by Ilgin Karlidag

MCT Campus

Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1955 last week, requiring California State University to designate a senior administrator as a liaison to prevent violence and ensure safety between protesting students and campus police.

“AB 1955 recognizes the delicate balance between the exercise of the First Amendment rights of students and the obligation of campus police to maintain a safe and orderly environment,” assemblyman Marty Block, who suggested the bill, said in a press release.

The bill is a reaction to the University of California, Davis protests from November last year, where campus police pepper-sprayed students participating in a peaceful Occupy Wall Street movement.

“During campus protests, when tensions escalate between student demonstrators and campus police, a designated faculty or staff liaison can help to facilitate communication and mediate points of contention thereby reducing the likelihood of violent confrontation,” Block said.

The pepper-spray incident against UC Davis students is costing the university nearly $1 million to settle the students’ claims. Each of the 21 pepper-sprayed UC Davis students will receive $30,000 in a settlement, which also calls for UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi to write a formal apology letter to each student.

A report by the U.S. Department of Justice defines police brutality as an unnecessary use of force by police, and “citizens’ judgment that they have not been treated with full rights and dignity by police as expected in a democratic society.”

In July, Sean Arseo, a political science alumnus from San Diego State, witnessed the Anaheim street clashes between the police and protesters that was caused by the police firing of Manuel Diaz.

“People came to the streets and in the neighborhood, saying ‘We’re not going to stand for this,’ but the results were even further brutality,” Arseo said. “There was police looking like snipers while standing on a rooftop and empty police buses driving around for mass arrests.”

The police clashes at UC Davis and Anaheim are a few of many other incidents in different parts of the world.

In May, hundreds of students protesting tuition hikes were arrested in province of Quebec, Canada. Last Tuesday, in Spain’s capital Madrid, the police fired rubber bullets on demonstrators protesting against austerity measures, Reuters reported.

No matter the protest, this bill will protect students in California to voice their opinion.