In a talk peppered with the literary and musical references that characterize his speeches, Cornel West dazzled the standing room only audience at the Cal Poly Pomona Universityâ€‹ Theatre. Even the overflow room was standing was nearly overcrowded with hundreds of intrigued attendees, eager to hear Brother Cornel's vision of social justice, articulated through a philisophical, religious, and racial lens.
The mood of the evening changed drastically, however, after then engagement, when a University Police officer approached a man distributing leaflets outside the theater to the crowd. He asked him if he had permission to leaflet, to which the man replied that he hadn't asked for permission. He then proceeded to distribute flyers. The officer became visibly agitated and attempted to snatch the paper from the man's hand. The man resisted, holding onto the flyers, which enraged the officer. The activist let go, explained that he could ask permission, and then informed the officer that he was going to record the interaction.
As soon as the activist turned on the camera, the officer grabbed his wrist and ordered him to set down the camera. He then told the man that he could smell "weed" on him and proceeded to twist the man's arm, forcing him down onto a nearby bench. He continued to twist the arm as he forced the man's torso to the bench. The man vocalized that he wished to comply, and let go of the camera.
The officer took possession of the camera and called for backup. He subsequently searched the man's pockets and backpack, leaving his belongings scattered on the bench. A row of police officers surrounded the scene. By this time, the crowd outside the theater had taken an interest in the affairs. Some among them knew the man in question and vocally objected to the harassment, which further agitated the officer.
The officer accused the man of assaulting an officer, and told him that he was "lucky I didn't use pepper spray." The man was ordered to leave campus immediately. The harassing officer told him he could never return, while the commanding officer told him that if he returned within seven days he would be arrested.
The handbill the activist was distributing was for the Occupy-initiated F29 call to action to shut down the corporations
. Occupy Portland called for the movement nationwide to use nonviolent direct action against corporations comprising ALEC, the legislative council that promotes anti-worker and anti-immigrant legislation. Occupy Riverside, heeding the call, selected Walmart as its target, and is supporting un-unionized warehouse workers in their struggle against an impending unjust firing.