UC Davis pepper spray incident goes viral
Police at UC Davis used pepper spray to disperse peaceful demonstrators at UC Davis, setting off a firestorm of protest, the suspension of two officers, and calls for the school’s chancellor to resign.
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According to police and university officials, the officers (35 or so) felt surrounded and threatened, even though there is no video or other evidence indicating that.Skip to next paragraph
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Organizers had said that the protest action was to express solidarity with demonstrators at the University of California at Berkeley, a point highlighted in the faculty call for Katehi’s resignation.
“Given the recent use of excessive force by police against ‘occupy’ protesters at UC Berkeley and elsewhere, the Chancellor must have anticipated that, by authorizing police action, she was effectively authorizing their use of excessive force against peaceful UCD student protestors,” the Davis Faculty Association said in a statement Saturday. “The Chancellor’s role is to enable open and free inquiry, not to suppress it.”
In the New York Times over the weekend, UC Berkeley professor Robert Hass, a former poet laureate of the United States, described his experience being injured when he and his wife Brenda Hillman attended an “occupy” demonstration there.
Caught up in the crowd and unable to move backward as police had ordered, Ms. Hillman was knocked to the ground and Mr. Hass was struck by police clubs.
“My wife bounced nimbly to her feet,” he wrote. “I tripped and almost fell over her trying to help her up, and at that moment the deputies in the cordon surged forward and, using their clubs as battering rams, began to hammer at the bodies of the line of students. It was stunning to see. They swung hard into their chests and bellies. Particularly shocking to me – it must be a generational reaction – was that they assaulted both the young men and the young women with the same indiscriminate force. If the students turned away, they pounded their ribs. If they turned further away to escape, they hit them on their spines.”
“My ribs didn’t hurt very badly until the next day and then it hurt to laugh, so I skipped the gym for a couple of mornings, and I was a little disappointed that the bruises weren’t slightly more dramatic,” Hass wrote. “It argued either for a kind of restraint or a kind of low cunning in the training of the police. They had hit me hard enough so that I was sore for days, but not hard enough to leave much of a mark. I wasn’t so badly off. One of my colleagues, also a poet, Geoffrey O’Brien, had a broken rib. Another colleague, Celeste Langan, a Wordsworth scholar, got dragged across the grass by her hair when she presented herself for arrest.”
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