Two UC Davis officers put on leave after pepper spray video

Sun Nov 20, 2011 2:39pm EST

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(Reuters) - Two University of California, Davis police officers have been placed on administrative leave while the school investigates the apparent use by campus police of pepper spray against seated student protesters, the university said Sunday.

Video footage of a policeman in riot gear using pepper spray on a group of roughly a dozen student protesters at close range in the university's quad area posted on YouTube spread quickly over the Internet, sparking outrage among some university faculty members.

The officers will be paid while on leave, university spokeswoman Claudia Morain said. She did not identify them.

In a public statement Saturday, UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi wrote that the use of pepper spray as shown on the video "is chilling to us all and raises many questions about how best to handle situations like this."

Student protesters at Davis had set up an encampment in the university's quad area earlier this month as part of the nationwide Occupy movement demonstrations against economic inequality and excesses of the financial system.

Their demonstrations, which had been endorsed by a faculty association, included protests against tuition increases and what they viewed as police brutality on University of California campuses in response to recent protests.

The students had set up about 25 tents in a quad area, but they had been asked not to stay overnight and were told they would not be able to stay during the weekend due to a lack of university resources, Katehi said.

Some protesters took their tents down voluntarily while others stayed. The pepper spray incident appeared to take place on Friday afternoon, when campus police moved in to forcibly evict the protesters.

Katehi said she was "saddened" by the manner in which protesters were removed and on Saturday announced a task force of faculty, students and staff to investigate the incident.

She said she had also instructed the school to reevaluate whether university policy on encampments offered students sufficient "flexibility to express themselves."

The move announcing the task force came after Katehi came under criticism from members of her own faculty.

(Writing by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by David Bailey)

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Comments (3)
ARJTurgot2 wrote:
Another brain dead academic discovers they are not equipped to do anything of practical value. The police get off on exercising power. Their response to ANY challenge to their authority is force. They are generally too poorly educated to grasp the concept of law. You do not give them unsupervised control of anything. The casual attitude of the cop doing the first spraying says everything – there will be no consequences to his action. Hopefully this idiot now loses her job, although they will try to sugarcoat it. Read up on the history of Elizabeth Hoffman of the U of Colorado system for details.

Nov 19, 2011 8:13pm EST  --  Report as abuse
WildBillWB wrote:
The police could not be reached for comment. The IAB I Am Bored web site posts the cops Email address if you care to comment.

Nov 20, 2011 1:26am EST  --  Report as abuse
txgadfly wrote:
The two employees of UC Davis should be arrested and charged appropriately. At a minimum, they should be fired and barred from employment in law enforcement in California. In my opinion, they violated their oath to protect and defend the US Constitution. They should pay with several years.

Why do we demand a lower level of ethics and obedience of law from Government employees than from the general public? Time to stop this. How about 3 years.

Nov 23, 2011 10:35pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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