By Jennie Tanner
Take a moment to imagine this. You’re sitting outside, peacefully protesting the raised tuition price at your college, as is your constitutional right to do so. Then suddenly, campus police approaches and demands you to move. And when you refuse? You get violently pepper sprayed. This happened about a two years ago at the University of California at Davis, and we are just seeing the after-effects now. No one to this day can explain what prompted the officer to use force as he did. There were no weapons on the students, and they were not pushing or shoving. They were simply sitting on the ground. There is nothing illegal about that.
However far away that school might be from Fitchburg, we are all college students who can relate to how scared these students must have been. After suing the school, they were all awarded $30,000. But of course insult just had to be added to injury, and a few weeks ago the officer who sprayed them was awarded $38,000 for having anxiety and depression from the incident. These students had their rights taken away from them because they were protesting and this officer got more of a reward for taking those rights away than the students got for expressing them. Freshman Scott Davies does the best job of describing the unfairness of it all, saying, “He’s claiming he was traumatized by the fame he received after the images went viral. And that’s where the real issue is; the victims were awarded less money for the same exact thing. They were in the footage too… they had acidic chemicals sprayed in their face and showed up on national news on their knees and in pain. But their attacker was compensated more, and there is no justice in that”. The officer was fired eight months after the incident. What I would like to know, is why it took so long for him to be fired. He violated someone’s constitutional rights, was awarded money for doing it and got to keep his job for months after the incident. America needs to wake up, take an extra history course or two, and learn that it is not ok to violate rights and then be rewarded for it.