The University of California, Davis, is launching an investigation into the actions of a police officer who pepper sprayed a group of students. Chancellor Linda Katehi said that she found UC Davis pepper spray incident “chilling” but that she would not stop down as Chancellor.
Katehi wrote in a statement:
“The events of this intervention have been videotaped and widely distributed. As indicated in various videos, the police used pepper spray against the students who were blocking the way. 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.”
Here’s the video of the incident.
The New York Daily News reports that the students were participating in the “Occupy UC Davis” movement. Chancellor Katehi allowed police on to the campus so that they could remove students who had set up tents in the University’s quad.
From the video, it doesn’t look like the police were threatened in any way. The officer seems perfectly calm as he walks up and down the line of protesters spraying them with pepper spray.
In an open letter to Katehi, Nathan Brown, an assistant professor in the English Department, wrote:
“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…. You are responsible for the police violence directed against students on the UC Davis quad on November 18, 2011. As I said, I am writing to hold you responsible and to demand your immediate resignation on these grounds.”
Should Katehi step down as Chancellor? Should the officer in the video be stripped of his badge?