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UC Davis students put up new encampment

The encampment was again erected Monday, hours after the campus police chief was put on administrative leave and the chancellor was shouted down at a demonstration while trying to apologize for the incident that happened at a protest held Friday in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

By Judy LinAssociated Press / November 22, 2011

UC Davis students protest at an 'Occupy UCD' rally on campus in Davis, Calif. on Nov. 21. More than 1,000 demonstrators rallied on Monday at the University of California at Davis to protest the pepper-spraying of student protesters by police, a clash captured in video footage circulated widely on television and the Internet.

Max Whittaker/Reuters

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DAVIS, Calif.

Students have again put up tents near the site where University of California, Davispolice used pepper spray on seated protesters in a conflict that has sparked outrage and calls for the school chancellor's resignation.

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The encampment was again erected Monday, hours after the campus police chief was put on administrative leave and the chancellor was shouted down at a demonstration while trying to apologize for the incident that happened at a protest held Friday in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Two officers also were placed on administrative leave after the students were sprayed.

University spokeswoman Claudia Morain said the school was monitoring the protest and did not say whether the students would be allowed to camp overnight. She said the school will take action "step by step" to balance campus security with people's right to protest.

Chancellor Linda Katehi made a brief appearance, facing students, faculty and community members chanting slogans and pressing for her to step down.

"I'm here to apologize. I feel horrible for what happened Friday," Katehi told the crowd. "If you think you don't want to be students of the university we had on Friday, I'm just telling you, I don't want to be the chancellor of the university we had on Friday."

She asked the assembly to work with her as she strives to earn the trust of the campus. Then, as the demonstrators yelled at her to step down, staff members escorted Katehi away to a car.

University officials and campus police have been the target of angry reprisals since widely circulated videos showed riot police dousing pepper spray on a row of students while they were sitting passively on the ground with their arms linked.

Meanwhile, demonstrators at the University of California, Berkeley, pledged to sleep overnight at Sproul Plaza, though they did not plan to set up tents. A heat lamp was set up in the plaza, and student protesters called the demonstration a "pajama party" rather than an encampment.

University of California President Mark G. Yudof called the chancellors of all 10 campuses and reminded them of the right to protest peacefully.

"We cannot let this happen again," he said, according to a statement from the president's office.

On Sunday, Katehi called on the Yolo County district attorney's office to investigate the police department's use of force.

With no uniformed officers in attendance, students who were pepper-sprayed opened Monday's protest, saying they now feel unsafe on campus.

Mechanical engineering student David Buscho, 22, of San Rafael, described being paralyzed with fear as he felt the spray sting "like hot glass."

"I had my arms around my girlfriend. I just kissed her on the forehead and then he sprayed us," he said. "Immediately we were blinded. ... He just sprayed us again and again and we were completely powerless to do anything."

Nine students hit by pepper spray were treated at the scene, two were taken to hospitals and later released, university officials said. Ten people were arrested.

Meanwhile, UC Davis police Chief Annette Spicuzza and two officers have been placed on administrative leave.

Before the assembly broke up, the crowd voted to hold a campus-wide strike Nov. 28 to coincide with a meeting of the University of California governing board.

The UC Davis faculty association has called for Katehi's resignation, saying there had been a "gross failure of leadership."

Yudof said Sunday that he was "appalled" by images of protesters being doused with pepper spray and plans an assessment of law enforcement procedures on all 10 campuses.

Katehi, speaking Monday morning on KQED Radio, said she had not authorized officers to use pepper spray and called it a "horrific incident." She said she takes full responsibility but will not step down.

"They were not supposed to use force; it was never called for," she said. "They were not supposed to limit the students from having the rally, from congregating to express their anger and frustration."

She has said she plans to appoint a task force of students, staff and faculty to investigate the incident and report back to her within 30 days.

 

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