The Police Riot at OccupyCAL

Against the Current, No. 156, January/February 2012

Rob Peters-Slaughter

I REMEMBER AS if it were just yesterday. I was linked in arms, peacefully protesting in support and solidarity with the students of UC Berkeley and my friend Meleiza. What I would soon have to witness would leave me traumatized and utterly disgusted.

The first scene was that of an elderly couple in front of me who were also protesting peacefully. This couple would soon be shoved to the ground and left defenseless by the officers of the Alameda County Sheriffs Department.

Feeling the pulls and tugs from my comrades, I witnessed men and women being beaten with batons. I still hear the aches, groans and moans in my sleep. These people didn’t provoke the police and embodied the definition of peaceful.

As I looked to my left, I saw a police officer stab a young woman in the stomach with his baton more than five times. The young woman released her grips from the students next to her, cried in agony and passed out. From this moment on, I knew we students were in a battle for our lives. Students were stabbed in their stomachs and their private regions and the women were violently pulled by their hair. It felt like a war of colonization and we, being the “natives,” were being eradicated.

I felt an officer grab my neck collar and rip me out of the crowd. He sent me swirling in the midst of the violence and into another officer. This officer grabbed me and started to forcefully squeeze the life out of me. This officer then tried to pick me up and the next thing I knew I was on the ground being handcuffed.

Soon after being handcuffed, I remember looking to my right and I saw five or six officers starting to kick and beat me. The officer on my left side started to stab me in the ribs with his baton. After this, another officer got on top of my back and stuck his knee into my neck and began to strangle and shake me.

I lay on the ground defenseless and unable to move or to defend myself. Following this unforgettable experience, I have no respect or trust in law enforcement and I view them as a complete enemy of myself and people of color.

I remember Santa Rita County Jail, where we were stripped searched, fully naked in a room with other inmates, ordered to show our private areas and open our mouths. One inmate who failed to perform the strip search correctly was yelled at by the officer. The officer told the inmate to pull up his pants and put back on his clothes. The officer then began to say how he wasn’t a faggot, gay, and didn’t want to stare at men’s asses all day.

This experience by itself left me traumatized as my rights as a human being were utterly violated and thrown out the window. This is just a glimpse into what fully took place.

I doubt parents send their children to institutions of higher learning to receive brutal beatings by local law enforcement — to attend a college where the administration supports the police in the violent beating of students, truly the definition of unprofessionalism and dehumanization.

I think the idea of the American dream along with our constitutional rights have been laid to rest, and the future being prepared for us is a negative utopia, in which we are just pieces in the operation of this machine.

January/February 2012, ATC 156