My heart goes out to the Citizen Leaders on the University of California Davis campus who demonstrated, by their peaceful sit-in, the courage of their convictions, only to be assaulted by the campus police.
These sons and daughters, these American citizens, part of the Occupy Wall Street movement on the campus, became the latest victims of alleged police brutality to be captured on video. The videos show the students seated on the ground as a UC Davis police officer brandishes a red canister of pepper spray, showing it off for the crowd, and then dousing the seated students in a heavy, thick mist. (Note: This was an officer of the UC Davis Police Force, not the officers from the city of Davis, California).
“The UC Davis students were peacefully protesting on the quad,” wrote the student who took the videos in an email to The Huffington Post (from which this blog posting is excerpted). The filmmaker, a senior, asked that his name not be used for fear of retribution by campus authorities. “The cop gave them 3 minutes to disperse before he said they would come and disturb the protest. The main objective for them was removing the tents… The students did have a right to be on campus, they were assembling peacefully and the campus was open at the time.”
UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza defended her officers’ actions to KCRA. She argued that it just wasn’t safe for students to camp on the quad. “It’s not safe for multiple reasons,” Spicuzza said.
Claudia Morain, a UC Davis spokesperson said, “We are just not going to allow a tent city. Just period. In these budget times, we shouldn’t use resources that should be going to our core academic mission going to a tent city. The police tried to use the least force that they could.”
The UC Davis chancellor, Linda P.B. Katehi, released a statement Friday. It states, “We deeply regret that many of the protestors today chose not to work with our campus staff and police to remove the encampment as requested. We are even more saddened by the events that subsequently transpired to facilitate their removal.”
Nathan Brown, an assistant English professor at the university, released an open letter to the chancellor, calling for her resignation. He 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.”
The student filmmaker, who says he is not part of Occupy Davis, told HuffPost, “I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think such a thing would ever happen on campus over a tent being on campus. It’s embarrassing on the part of the police to take such actions.”
Excerpted from The Huffington Post 11-19-2011