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Overcoming the Fear

The 'Davis Dozen' show Occupy the way forward.

THE AGGIE

One of the most inspiring recent actions against banks was pulled off by a group of students and faculty at the University of California, at Davis (UC Davis). Every day for two months, they sat in front of the entrance of a U.S. Bank branch in their student union. Last February the bank closed its doors and left the UC Davis campus for good. But, in a gesture intended to send a chill down the spine of student activists, a dozen of them — dubbed the ‘Davis Dozen’ — are now being criminally charged and face potential sentences of up to 11 years in jail and $1-million in fines. Will this scare students enough to stop an escalation of bank occupations on campus? Or will the systemic corruption recently revealed at the heart of global banking spur students everywhere on?

Samara Steele sends this dispatch from Davis:

The courtroom was filled to capacity last Friday, as the Davis Dozen and their legal team filed a motion to allow the court access to personnel records of university police officers involved with the case, under the premise of police misconduct.

The Davis Dozen are students and faculty of the University of California, at Davis (UC Davis), who have been charged with obstructing a corporate bank branch on their campus.

U.S. Bank opened a branch in the UC Davis student union last fall. As part of the bank’s aggressive marketing strategy, students were issued new ID cards that doubled as debit cards.

Many blame the banks for their role in the nationwide increase in university tuition and fees.

“The only way the fee hikes are possible is because of predatory loans,” one student explained. “Basically, the university is selling its students to banks.”

In the last 4 years, UC Davis students have seen their tuition rates almost double, while tuition has gone up 15% at public universities nationwide. The average American university student now leaves college with over $25,000 in student debt.

Private lenders have capitalized on the tuition hikes. U.S. Bank, for example, offers private student loans with interest rates as high as 10.95%.

In a statement made by the Davis Dozen on their website:

“Today, total student loan debt stands at over a trillion dollars—a sum larger than the total credit card debt. Unless we can stop it, this debt is our future. Our wages will belong to the bank until the day we die.”

On February 28th of this year, following protests by students and faculty, the U.S. Bank branch closed its doors and left the UC Davis campus.

The bank blamed has blamed its closure on the protests, and has threatened to sue the University for failing to discipline students and educators who resisted the bank’s presence.

In March, at the university’s request, the Yolo County District Attorney charged twelve students and educators with 21 counts of misdemeanor, including conspiracy charges. They face up to 11 years in prison and $1 million in fines.

Many of the twelve defendants were pepper-sprayed by University Police while protesting tuition hikes in November, in an act of police brutality that garnished international attention.

According to records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, most of the police officers involved with the charges against the Davis Dozen were on duty during the pepper spray incident.

The university police in Davis have gained a reputation for brutality against students.

In 2004, Timothy Nelson, a former student of UC Davis, was permanently injured after being shot in the eye with a pepperball by a university police officer.

Pepperballs are essentially paintballs filled with pepper spray, a military-grade chemical weapon outlawed during the 1977 Geneva Convention.

On Friday, the Davis Dozen and their legal team filed a Pitchess Motion, which alleges that the officers in the case used excessive force or lied about events surrounding the defendants’ arrest. This will give the court access to the officers’ records, allowing the defense to confirm that these officers previously engaged in excessive force against defendants.

Among the Davis Dozen is acclaimed poet Joshua Clover, who teaches English at UC Davis. Clover is a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize, and his first book of poetry, Madonna anno domini, received the Walt Whitman award from the Academy of American Poets.

The Davis Dozens’ pro bono legal team includes Tony Serra, the civil rights lawyer who famously defended Black Panther leader Huey P. Newton. Serra, who has taken on a number of high-profile political cases, has also taken on a vow of poverty. He is known for living a frugal lifestyle and buying all of his clothes secondhand. He was the subject of the 1989 film True Believer.

The next Davis Dozen court date has been set for August 24th, 2012.

To learn how to support the Davis Dozen: http://davisdozen.org/

Samara Steele

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29 comments on the article “Overcoming the Fear”

Displaying 21 - 29 of 29

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Anonymous

Thanks for the link, padre. http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/1093078--brains-behind-occupy-laments-lack-of-spirit-in-canada

I am a bit disappointed that Kalle Lasn, the creator of the Occupy movement, had this to say about its activities here in Canada:

“I just had a feeling that there was a little bit too much of the loony left there,”

“The Canadian media really dropped the ball on this one,” Lasn said. “Instead of seeing it as a movement of young people fighting for a different kind of future, which is so beautiful and so valid, they basically saw it as a pesky irritation that had to be got rid of.”

Dear Mr. Lasn, give us a break: The media's purpose is NOT to be the propaganda tool for Occupy. If Occupy was considered by the public to be a destructive nuisance, it's because it was. Here in Ottawa, they occupied Confederation Park, left a mess, cost the city taxpayers a bundle of money, all the while whining that they weren't getting enough gourmet food donations. It seemed that their purpose was to take over prime public property, gorging themselves and whine that they weren't getting enough free stuff.

I think the FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION remaining unanswered is:

What are the objectives of the Occupy movement, and how does it plan to achieve them?

If an organization has no reason for existing, it will not exist for long. And that is why the Occupy movement is essentially DEAD.

Maybe the movement needs a new leader. After all, Kalle Lasn is 70 years old.

We all love our grand-parents, but do they have the vision and the energy to lead an international protest movement?

And what they hell are they protesting?

samarasteele

In the wake of the sub-prime housing market collapse, college education has become one of the new pillars of the predatory finance industry, with student debt surpassing $1 trillion. The average student now leaves college with over $25,000 in debt.

The rise of this new facet of the debt-industry has only been possible through tuition hikes and the privatization of services that were once public.

What is going to happen to students when the banks realize there is no way to get their trillion dollars back? How do you foreclose an education that has already been received? Or, as the Yale graduate in this NY times op-ed response ponders: will banks try to take a stronger role in making our life-choices for us?

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/21/opinion/an-equity-share-in-a-graduates-income.html?_r=1&ref=tuition

samarasteele

You're totally right. According to the Federal Reserve website (http://www.federalreserve.gov/econresdata/releases/mortoutstand/current.htm), the current mortigage debt is around $13 trillion, while the student debt sits at $1 trillion. So it's climbing up there, but it isn't larger. Thanks for pointing this out! I'll contact the appropriate admins to have this detail corrected.

Anonymous

Hayley, I think the comparison you wanted is that student loan debt has now surpassed total consumer debt (mostly credit-card). A (fairly conservative) version of the figures:
http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/04/18/150909686/what-america-owes-in-student-loans

Anonymous

In Military systems such as the one the U.S.' maintains over its populace, there isn't much of a requirement for good, thinking people without money, even with an education. And, after an education you'll have even less money than before. And, all for what? Good paying jobs require participating in crimes against nature and/or humanity - either in the extraction, transportation, processing, distribution or sale of some must-have but soon forgotten consumable - but, also in the having to remain morally silent through-out the life of the job. Tough then that we live in a society run by folks who specialize in doing and inducing all of those things.

I don't know where anyone gets off thinking that having a good job or education or this career or that profession is more important than the exacerbating effect your job and all the crap you want to buy will have on the environment or the family who's living on the mineral vein needed for the manufacture of some crap toy and scheduled for acquisition by CENTCOM for that specific purpose - oh, and also some Military twits get to kill under-defended people while taking. You'd have to simply not care to think that getting a job - one of their jobs, by the way, and remember, those are the only ones available - is the most important thing in this or to this world.

If you're still so bloody minded and cold hearted, you might as well become cops.

Heat: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2cnRCCHR1k

Anonymous

Jack, consider that:

- you are using manufactured electronic devices to correspond on this blog

- you consume food

- you use shelter

On these facts alone, your very existence is a "crime against nature"

If you feel that strongly about the offensive existence of humanity and its effects on the planet and its eco=system:

Why don't you set an example for the rest of us, and just kill yourself?

Anonymous

Twelve unemployed students at UC Davis with nothing better to do park their butts in front of bank offices at their student union building, and this is news?

What?

Did you miss the big story that 6 year old Suzy in Oklahoma had the Tooth Fairy visit her recently?

Compared to the 12 bums at Davis, Suzy was big news!

Here's some more hot news:

The "Occupy" movement is officially DEAD.

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