Monday, November 21, 2011

Letter to Chancellor

For the story,

Law Office of Narine Mkrtchyan
117 W. 9th Street, Suite 1001
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Tel: (818) 388-7022

Offices of Chancellor and Provost
Fifth Floor, Mrak Hall,
University of California, Davis
One Shields Ave,
Davis, CA 95616
November 21, 2011

Dear Chancellor Katehi:

As a proud King Hall alumna, Graduate Class of 2005, and also an alumna of UCLA, Undergraduate Class of 2001, let me express my complete outrage with the appalling incident at UC Davis that has sparked national concern over the last three days. The campus police pepper-spraying peaceful demonstrators and students nowhere else but on our own campus at UC Davis, at the direction of no one else but our own educators and campus administration, is unacceptable to any sense of justice and proportionality.

In 2008 this nation made a promise to its future generations, a promise that has not come to its fruition. It was a promise to embark upon long-awaited change, change for social and economic justice and equality. Change, however, was to come by concerted efforts of all Americans, united and determined in that struggle. In the words of our spiritual leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent.”

The demonstrators that were pepper-sprayed by the campus police at your Administration’s direction, represent that promise that was broken, that change that was demanded for. Particularly because UC Davis is an educational institution, an arm of UC Regents, the best and most liberal University chain in the state of California, it should be at the forefront of this movement, take up the task of its leadership, organize the youth, inspire them, and lead them forward towards the change that America deserves. As education is the engine of any nation, you as educators have a high responsibility to preserve and enrich the best promise in the example of students who have taken up the difficult task of the struggle for better America. You are the Prometheus entrusted with carrying the torch of light for the future generations. Instead the University has chosen to take the shameful escape to the convenient and bankrupt ‘yesteryear,’ the rejection of freedom, succumbing to the authoritarian principles of the law enforcement. The Civil Rights Movement in the United States did endure a similar attack by those who were in shameful denial of the urgency of Change.

As a criminal defense attorney, practicing for five years, I have seen what you might not have seen. I regret to report, from the trenches, that our civil rights and the rights enshrined in the United States Constitution have been shed and downgraded by precisely the same subterfuge to the principles deeply antithetical to Liberty, Equality and Justice. America has been mercilessly thrown into the lap of corporations and financial institutions, with the secret agreement and silent blessings of our government. For fear of losing its grip and authority on the people angry with this treachery, the government has stifled all the freedoms and rights of the ordinary citizens, by turning into an ominous and authoritarian police regime. There is no escape from the iron grip and it is getting tighter and tighter.

These students and peaceful demonstrators represent the voice of America fed up with the status quo. They are standing up for civil disobedience and promise of change. If they have broken the current laws and/or campus policies, it is because those ‘laws’ as they are written down and enforced, no longer represent the American people and their urgent needs. If they have done something wrong by sitting and protesting to the current affairs without even resorting to any violence, then that law that they are breaking is morally wrong, not just and fundamentally un-American. In the words of Dr. King, “… an individual who breaks the law that conscience tells him is unjust and willingly accepts the penalty by staying in jail to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the very highest respect for law.”

It is clear from watching the video of the shameful incident, the students were not engaged in any violence, were only seated when the police, nonchalantly, sadistically and brutally started pepper-spraying. This scenario is unfortunately not new to me, having represented many individuals as victims of police brutality. But what is new and unacceptable to me, is the fact that this was permitted and authorized by the University officials on the very school grounds, against students as peaceful demonstrators.

Therefore, I request immediate resignation of all Administrative officials of UC Davis who authorized and/or failed to stop this action. Furthermore, I demand immediate termination of employment of the involved police officers, to set a clear example to the rest of the nation that these incidents will not be tolerated in the future. I do not believe placing these officers on paid administrative leave is an appropriate measure in light of their highly anti-social and brutal behavior.

Unless serious action is done to repair the image of the University of California, I refuse to associate myself any longer with UC Davis and King Hall.


Narine Mkrtchyan, Esq.