God damn power freaks! The police watch us; who is watching them?

This why a power structure should NOT exist. People who want to be positions of power where they can influence the lives of others are losers. The police are our unsung heroes, but even a single incident like this is intolerable and shows the need for a system where power is equal. This incident is quite old, but numerous similar ones happen every year. Names have been anonymised on request.

The deal is that this past weekend there was a protest in Columbus by Antioch college students (a peaceful protest mind you) that erupted into police brutality, 9 arrests and the widespread use of teargas and pepper spray on the crowd. They were protesting the proposed financial aid cuts in the Contract with America. Students are being encouraged to write to their representatives about both the Contract with America and this incident which is absolutely outrageous. Please read on. Thanks.

This is a copy of an informational letter distributed around the Oberlin campus on 2-22. 2/21 Most of this information comes from a telephone conversation with an Antioch student who was at Saturday's protest. On Saturday, February 18th, a group of approximately 70 Antioch students went to Columbus to protest outside the office of U.S. Rep John Kasich. He is the chairman of the House Budget Committee and was one of the main people in volved in writing Contract with America. The students were there to protest peacefully against the proposed cuts in student financial aid. Things were going fine when the protest began. The police arrived and were not bothering students. At one point some students went up onto a balcony to hang a banner and were told by a security guard that they would be arrested for trespassing but nothing happened. After a while more police arrived and they decided to arrest a woman who had been on the balcony for a while and refused to take the banner down. Another student told the police that they had just made a bull shit arrest, they ignored him and he went back into the crowd.

A few minutes later a cop went into the crowd, grabbed this student by his pony tail and flung him into the street. The police then proceeded to beat him and spray him with pepper spray. He tried to protect himself and was arrested for resisting arrest. At that point four police officers on horse back went into the crowd and began to spray people's eyes with pepper spray. There were a lot of police around by that point. They had been arriving gradually, and when things were quiet they had gone unnoticed. One woman had a lot of pepper spray in her eyes and while a friend was helping her, a comp came up to them to spray them again. Her friend was holding a cup with ice in it an threw it at the police officer and his horse. He was arrested. They took off his shirt and sprayed hi m with tear gas. Another man was trying to walk away from the scene. He told a police officer that he had a bad knee and was going to walk away. When he turned the officer sprayed the back of his head with pepper spray and because he had a shaved head it went into his eyes. The police then started spraying tear gas at the students and moved the group around two blocks up the st reet. The police then decided that they wanted to get one of the students who they felt was an organizer. He tried to run away but around seven officers jumped on him and arrested him. One woman, who was running to get out of the crowd and away from the chaos, brushed arms with a police officer and was arrested for assaulting him. In total nine students were arrested. [Two] were just released today on their own recognizance. [One] is being charged with inciting a riot and is possibly also being charged with assaulting a police officer. [Another] is being charged with inciting a riot and resisting arrest.

The following is an account from a friend of mine about what happened at a protest in Columbus, Ohio. Student Aid Action from Antioch was there and a lot of bad shit went down. The man is clamping down.

Hi there. I don't know if anyone has told you about the protesting Columbus yesterday for student aid. We were demonstrating peacefully outside Rep. Kasich's office in the afternoon. Some kids had gone up on to a balcony/terrace and hung a banner off the federal building, a security guard had warned them not to, that they would be trespassing. The cops arrived gradually at first, told us not to go in the street to give flyers to the drivers. We complied, things were chill. More and more cops showed up though. Pretty soon there were two paddy wagons and 3 cops on horses. Then there was an arrest on the balcony, [one student] had refused to take down the banner or something. I was watching the cops lead her away when someone started screaming terribly. I ran to the corner (I was about half way down the block). I thought maybe one of the horses had gotten out of control and stepped on someone. What I saw was [one of the students] in a circle of cops on horses, with his shirt off getting beat and sprayed with pepper spray. Everyone was screaming, and cops were indiscriminately spraying people in the eyes with pepper. I saw another student go out with a sign in front of his eyes to try and help and a cop on horseback circled around behind him and sprayed pepper in his eyes. [Another student] went out to try and help, a cop on horseback backhanded him. I was so angry. I looked around for something to throw, finding nothing I ran to the side of the corner to shout at a cop something like "you fucking bastards, leave us alone, and rich, poor, black, white, education is our right." Standing about 14 inches from some cop who was holding the crowd back, yelling at him, I saw one cop run up with about four large canisters and hand one to the cop closest to me.

I realized they were going to spray the crowd with this shit (tear gas as it turned out). [I] yelled that they were going to do this and ran to the back of the crowd. At the back [three students] were crying and screaming because some cops had maced them. I ran across the street to Kinko's to get water for these people's eyes. The air stung like hell cause of the teargas, and somehow I caught a little spray on my face, but I was wearing sunglasses luckily. They started trying to clear us out after that and [three students], and I jumped into [a student's]car. We motored around the block and met up with the police herding people up the street. Somehow another nasty scene broke out and they started macing people again. I saw seven cops jump on someone. [One] was running away from some cops, and they jumped on her and arrested her for no reason. Three of them piled on to her and wrenched her arms behind her back. After that [she] ran up and got in the car, and things basically calmed down. We went back to the site and picked up the stuff that had been abandoned , and found other people. [Nine people were arrested: two were charged with felonies, one for ostensibly arrested for crossing the street, another was held by the cops and sprayed in the face with tear gas, and five others.] The faculty is helping out, telling us about tactics, helping us to file a class action suit against the police. Bail money is tricky, they may ask for thousands of dollars to get [one of the students] out of jail. He is being kept in isolation. I'm so angry.

Contributions || Ram Samudrala || me@ram.org