Two University of California Davis protesters are on administrative leave, Chancellor Linda Katehi is under fire and many are outraged after an incident where a row of peaceful protesters, inspired by Occupy Wall Street, were doused with pepper spray on the university’s campus.
Two police officers at the University of California, Davis, have been placed on administrative leave, with pay, after an incident involving peaceful protesters being sprayed with pepper spray.
According to video of the incident posted on YouTube, the two officers walked up and down a line of seated protesters aligned with the Occupy Wall Street movement and sprayed them in the face with orange pepper spray. The actions outraged their fellow protesters, outraged human rights activists and has led to calls for their termination as well as the ouster of University of California Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi.
So far, Katehi has resisted calls for her to step down.
UC Davis Places Police Officers on Leave Following Pepper-Spray of Peaceful Occupy Protesters.
After ordering an eviction of students staging an “Occupy” protest at the University of California-Davis on Friday, which turned into a violent scene with police pepper spraying peaceful students, UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi pledged on ABC News’ ‘Good Morning America’ that she would not resign and gave a mini-lecture on the safety of students (video below).
“I really feel confident at this point the university needs me,” she said. “There are so many critical issues to be addressed and we really need to start the healing process and move forward.”
“It was a difficult situation for the campus to really strive to make sure the students are safe. “The biggest, most critical issue is the safety of the students who are using the campus, the facilities, who really want to learn in this environment.”
Following her claim that UC Davis students were “trespassing” on the school’s quad, two campus police officers deployed streams of pepper-spray at a group that had locked arms and refused to move. Video of the scene immediately went viral, getting over a million views within 24 hours.
Police said 10 students were arrested during the demonstration, and an investigation was underway into the officers’ use of pepper spray. Two members of the campus police were put on paid leave while the investigation is conducted.
Following the incident, Katehi called the use of pepper spray “chilling,” adding that it “raises many questions about how best to handle situations like this,” but also added that the attack was within university policies.
… ‘The Chancellor’s role is to enable open and free inquiry, not to suppress it.’
Nathan Brown, an assistant professor in the Department of English, also called for Ms Katehi to step down.
He wrote in an open letter to Katehi. ‘You are responsible for it because this is what happens when UC Chancellors order police onto our campuses to disperse peaceful protesters through the use of force: students get hurt. Faculty get hurt.’ …
…”The officers concerned should be charged with assault, their colleagues who stood by and did nothing warned that their duty is to enforce the law and the official responsible (Katehi) sacked. The students should boycott the university until these measures are taken. – Mr J G Taylor, Preston, UK, 21/11/2011 13:32
… “A more welcoming safe place,” Linda Katehi has obviously never been pepper sprayed. I love how she gave the order to take them down, but she feels that only the officers should face disciplinary action. … - Dawn, Prospect, USA, 21/11/2011 13:56
… “There was absolutely no need to use pepper spray in circumstances where students are sitting on the ground. It is a weapon to be used to pacify an opponent. People sitting on the ground are already passive.” … - - Martin, Reading, 20/11/2011 1:12
… As a man in my mid-50′s, and a former police officer, I can’t help but be highly disturbed by these pictures. It could hardly be less inflammatory a situation were the police not wearing what – with their actions, appearance and behavior – can only be described as German Army helmets. Sadly, and disgustingly, these officers of the law look much like those who were engaged in horrific acts in Europe, 70 years ago. Have we not learned anything about human decency and treating people with dignity. … A sad and shameful day for law enforcement for sure … and no good reason why the school chancellor is being attacked as she is.” – GlobOb, CA, USA, 20/11/2011 11:53
… This is truly unconscionable. UCD has always prided itself on peaceful protests; one of the reasons we were one of the first universities where graduate students were unionized. As a past undergraduate and professor at this university, I can assure you that the majority of students work well over 25 hours per week to put themselves through college. Yet they also remain known as the most academically dedicated students in CA. These students were protesting a tuition increase of over 80%, one which will make a public education inaccessible to many. If you truly feel that the police were in the right, then you prove yourself to be lacking in both basic human decency and intelligence – UC Davis alumna, NYC , 20/11/2011 17:44
“On November 18, 2011, Katehi ordered Occupy movement protesters on the UC Davis campus to remove their tents from the quad. When a group of non-compliant protestors refused to move, campus police officers pepper sprayed them. Eleven protesters received medical treatment; two were hospitalized. The incident led to further protests and calls for Katehi’s resignation.”