UC Davis’ chancellor Katehi claims police defied orders by using pepper spray

By End the Lie

The University of California at Davis’ chancellor, Linda Katehi, is now claiming that in using pepper spray on peaceful protesters the police were defying her orders.

Katehi’s statement was issued as public indignation over the brutal incident continues and the Davis Faculty Association called for her resignation on the 19th.

The UC Police’s attempt to remove the encampment backfired with alacrity, with groups erecting tents once again on Monday after a rally which drew thousands of students, faculty and supporters outside the UC Davis community.

There were more than 75 tents set up by Tuesday and Katehi said that she would seek negotiations with the groups in order to attempt to get them to leave without taking more violent police action.

She claims that she has ordered police to standby if an emergency arises while staying out of sight, saying, “They are on call, but they are not visible.”

This comes as University of California President Mark Yudof said that former Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton will lead a UC-sponsored investigation into the assault on the non-violent activists who did nothing other than sit down with linked arms.

Yet, linking arms is a violent act according to one UC Police Captain, so the inquiry very well might find that the police were justified in assaulting the passive demonstrators.

Bratton told The Los Angeles Times that he is hoping to meet Yudof’s request for “an outside, independent investigation and try to ascertain exactly what happened.”

He cited the fact that his experience as Los Angeles Police Chief from 2002-2009 supplied him with “no shortage of controversial incidents.”

Since his tenure, Bratton has launched a global security firm, Altegrity Risk International, which is staffed by former Los Angeles city councilman Jack Weiss and former Deputy Police Chief Michael Berkow, among others.

Bratton claims that an exemplary investigation is the Los Angeles Police Department’s inquest into an incident during a 2007 May Day celebration when police were videotaped using batons and firing rubber bullets to disperse a mostly peaceful crowd when a small group confronted the police in MacArthur Park.

As a result, dozens of demonstrators and journalists were injured, yet the result was merely a “series of LAPD disciplinary steps” which means we could likely see an even less severe response to the abuse at Occupy UC Davis.

If any average citizen shot people with rubber bullets or sprayed a bunch of peaceful, non-threatening people in the face with egregious amounts of pepper spray, they would undoubtedly be charged and likely sent to prison.

Yet, if you have a badge and a uniform, for some reason the government thinks it is okay to commit acts which are otherwise outright criminal.

Bratton claims that he is “looking for a similar report [to the 2007 May Day incident] that will give a truthful and objective, candid account of the events” at UC Davis.

He said that while he had seen the video of the pepper spraying of the sitting protesters, he would not comment on it to The Los Angeles Times at this point.

“We told the police to remove the tents or the equipment,” chancellor Katehi told the Sacramento Bee in an interview, adding that, “We told them very specifically to do it peacefully, and if there were too many of them, not to do it, if the students were aggressive, not to do it. And then we told them we also do not want to have another Berkeley.”

She was, of course, referring to the brutal assault of protesters that was supposedly justified because the protesters there linked arms as well in an attempt to stop police from dismantling their camp.

Katehi claims that they “told [Police Chief Annette Spicuzza] that it has to be peaceful, that anything else would not be acceptable,” after Spicuzza was placed on administrative leave with the two officers who assaulted the students with pepper spray.

She says that she does not know who made the decision to use pepper spray and when she saw the video, “it looked horrible, horrific, I would say.”

“I believe on Saturday when I spoke with her I said, ‘What Happened?’” Katehi told the Sacramento Bee. “She tried to explain that it was the decision of Lt. Pike.”

Katehi has so far refused to resign from her position and said that she has met with student groups multiple times on Tuesday, including one session during which she called for all charges against the 10 individuals, including nine UC Davis students, to be dropped.

She added that the UC System and UC Davis would be covering the medical bills of the students who were attacked with pepper spray and had to seek medical attention.

Katehi also said that UC Davis has brought in portable restrooms and she is also researching possibly providing food and drink facilities to the campers.

However, she seems to be set on the notion of coaxing the campers into voluntarily breaking up their camp, which, unless she can somehow roll back tuition increases, is highly unlikely.

Many people seem to think that spraying young, non-violent student activists with pepper spray is somehow acceptable, like Megyn Kelly who claimed on Fox News, “It’s like a derivative of actual pepper. It’s a food product essentially.”

In reaction to her absurd remarks, the internet has been abuzz and over 15,000 people have already signed a petition calling for her to put her theory to the test by ingesting pepper spray on television.

I truly hope that she will stand behind her words and eat or drink it, or even better do that and then get sprayed in the face with a large dose like the students received so she can really appreciate what they went through.

She even questioned if the pepper spray was real, claiming that “a lot of experts are looking at that and saying, ‘is that the real deal? Has it been diluted?’” because as Bill O’Reilly claims, “They should have had more of a reaction than that.”

Bill O’Reilly continues to show is absurd ignorance by saying that they did it because they didn’t want to lay hands on the students.

He must have missed the section of the video where they do just that and use batons to attempt to pry the students apart from one another.

Kelly quickly corrects him, but I find it somewhat appalling that relatively major hosts of supposed news shows wouldn’t even look into the story they are covering before blabbering on about things they clearly know nothing about.

Kelly said that although the tape “looks bad,” from a legal standpoint, she doesn’t think the police did anything wrong.

She cites their alleged failure to disperse and even claims that some of them were resisting arrest, ignoring the fact that the entire notion of an unlawful assembly is an affront to our right to assemble.

Kelly then recycles the laughable justification of the officers “feeling surrounded” and that they felt under threat.

If fully outfitted police with pepper spray and other weapons feel threatened by the peaceful assembly of college students, I question their ability to function properly in their job altogether.

Although, even Kelly questions this assertion, but O’Reilly quickly jumps in claiming that “we can’t see behind and what’s being said,” as if the videos didn’t have sound, which they did.

Kelly claims that the use of pepper spray in this instance was an example of reasonable force being utilized to carry out an arrest, although I’m not sure how sending multiple young people to the hospital for sitting down and linking arms in protest is at all reasonable force.

It appears that despite Kelly’s claim of having years of legal practice under her belt, it appears she is not actually familiar with legal precedents in California.

The San Francisco Chronicle pointed this out today by writing, “Plaintiffs may be able to prove excessive force, the court said, if they can show they “posed no immediate threat to the safety of anyone” and if police had less painful or intrusive alternatives. Jurors, the court said, should also consider the seriousness of the plaintiffs’ alleged crime and whether officers were facing an emergency.”

Clearly protesters sitting down with their heads down and arms linked to both sides posed absolutely no immediate threat to the safety of anyone at all.

Furthermore, the crime being committed was far from serious and the officers were clearly not facing an emergency, or else how can you explain how Lt. Pike is strolling about continuously spraying the protesters with pepper spray unencumbered?

A lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ALCU), Margaret Crosby, points out that the use of pepper spray violates Constitutional rights when it is “used as a chemical cattle prod on nonviolent protesters,” which indeed appears to be the case at UC Davis.

You can watch the full clip below:

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2 Responses to UC Davis’ chancellor Katehi claims police defied orders by using pepper spray

  1. Jo November 23, 2011 at 12:26 PM

    someone should pepper spray Katehi and Kelly and let them decide how peaceful it is

    Reply

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