UC Davis Chancellor Apologizes For Officers Pepper-Spraying Students, But Will Not Resign

UC Davis police pepper spray students

Many haunting videos of the peaceful assembly of college kids in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement have surfaced on the interwebs, but the one of nonviolent UC Davis students getting pepper-sprayed by a police officer is truly horrific. Last Friday, college students rallied and started to erect tents on the campus property, which is in violation of campus of rules. When police officers arrived to take down the tents, the students linked arms in a nonviolent protest against being removed. And yet despite their unarmed, nonviolent, seated motion, an officer walked down the line and pepper-sprayed them all.

Students and faculty are now calling for the chancellor Linda P. B. Katehi‘s resignation since the horrible events transpired on her watch. She has told CNN that she will not resign but has placed the two police officers on administrative leave after using pepper spray on the protestors. She has also also publicly apologized and called for an investigation regarding this complete abuse of power.

The New York Times report that as these passive kids were being pepper-sprayed and arrested, a bystander shouted ”These are children! These are children!” — something that these officers surely forgot as they doused these college students. Eleven of the protestors were treated for the effects of pepper spray, which includes burning of the eyes and nose as well as coughing, gagging, and shortness of breath.

The Davis Faculty Association, well aware of the police brutality on other UC campuses, asked “that the chancellors of the University of California cease using police violence to repress nonviolent political protests.” They described the chancellor’s response to the assembling students as a “gross failure of leadership” while  the UC Board of Regents chair Sherry Lansing said in a video statement today that she supports the protestors completely.

Regardless of one’s personal politics or how you orient yourself in response to the Occupy Wall Street protests, what these kids did was legal, constitutionally protected, and nonthreatening. It may be kids who are erecting the signs and linking arms, but parents with Occupy Wall Street-affiliated sons and daughters need to take a stand against the brutal way the police are treating kids who are exercising their right to assemble — even if it does violate some pesky campus policy.

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(photo: nytimes.com)

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