UCD pepper spray incident
Scroll down for the Op-Ed by UC Davis Professor of English Nathan Brown, December 16, 2011.
Also on this page:
Sacramento Bee front page story November 23. Katehi: UCD police defied my orders
Katehi: Campus police were told not to use force against students
Chancellor’s remarks at Nov. 22 student dialogue and town hall
Response from President Mark Yudof
Chancellor Katehi’s comments on the incident
Mark’s message including video links
For a more legible version of this story ‘Katehi: UCD police defied my orders” see below (after the visual image of the Sac Bee story). (Scroll down!)
Webmaster’s note: Based on the information in this Op-Ed I now agree that Chancellor Katehi should resign. These are not innocent mistakes. Given the benefit of plenty of time to plan her next move she has deliberately headed down the exactly wrong path; bringing in representatives of corporate America to guide UC Davis.
December 16, 2011 | Posted by Special to The Enterprise
Op-ed: Reviewing the case for Katehi’s resignation
By Nathan Brown
Immediately following the events of Nov. 18 at UC Davis, which have come to be known as “the pepper-spray incident,” I wrote an open letter to Chancellor Linda Katehi demanding her resignation. Since then, calls for the chancellor’s resignation have continued to grow. These have been issued by:
* A petition signed by more than 110,000 people;
* The board of the Davis Faculty Association;
* The majority of the faculty in the physics department;
* The English department;
* The department of comparative literature;
* The Program in Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies;
* A group of faculty in the history department;
* The outgoing chairman of the UCD Graduate Student Association;
* The general assembly of the UCD student movement;
* A no-confidence letter signed by dozens of faculty from many different departments; and
* An international letter of solidarity declaring an academic boycott of UCD until the chancellor’s resignation.
It is no small thing for the majority of the faculty in two of the largest and most important departments in the sciences and humanities, physics and English, to call for the resignation of a university chancellor. It is even more significant when this call is joined by other departments and by more than 100,000 people, including thousands of UCD students, faculty, staff and alumni, as well as residents of the city of Davis.
Despite the chancellor’s efforts to sow ambiguity concerning her orders to police, these calls for her resignation are ultimately grounded in an irrefutable fact: One week after the chancellor of UC Berkeley ordered riot police to remove an encampment on that campus, and one week after student and faculty demonstrators were brutally beaten by those police, Chancellor Katehi made the same decision in the same circumstances at UC Davis. She also ordered riot police to remove an encampment, and the same result, followed: police violence against students.
The decision to send riot police onto our campus under these circumstances was not a mistake or an oversight, but the repetition of a dangerous failure of leadership by another UC chancellor just nine days earlier. Considering the severe consequences of that failure for our students and for the reputation of our university, demands for the chancellor’s resignation are far from hasty or ill-considered. Rather, they acknowledge that while the chancellor already had ample opportunity to learn the lesson of what happened at Berkeley, she either failed or refused to do so.
Chancellor Katehi has said she accepts “full responsibility” for the events of Nov. 18. Those of us calling for her resignation agree that she is fully responsible, and we demand that she accept the consequences of that responsibility by stepping down.
Since Nov. 18, the inconsistency of the chancellor’s response to calls for her resignation has not alleviated but rather exacerbated her failure of leadership. On the one hand, she has accepted full responsibility; on the other, she has attempted to displace blame onto the vice chancellor and the police. As faculty and students have pointed out, the investigations organized by UC Davis and the UC Office of the President are riddled with conflicts of interest that belie their supposed independence and objectivity.
The cover provided by these investigations now allows the chancellor to respond to direct questions concerning her decisions on Nov. 18 by saying she is no longer at liberty to speak about the matter. While the chancellor emphasizes the need for “dialogue,” student and faculty forums organized by the administration have determined who can speak through a lottery system that seriously undermines any genuinely open conversation about her capacity to lead the university.
Meanwhile, articles have brought to light Chancellor Katehi’s co-authorship of a report recommending the return of militarized police to Athens Polytechnic University as a deterrent to the “politicization” of the campus, as well as her involvement with a program of information sharing between American university campuses and the FBI. These reports are troubling evidence of an ongoing effort to quell and suppress political dissent on university campuses through the use of policing and surveillance.
Amid these developments, the UC Davis administration has now announced the composition of a new Chancellor’s Advisory Board, which, we are told, will help to guide our university into the future. This board includes the CEOs of Bechtel and of Chevron, as well as the senior vice president of Bank of America Merrill Lynch. It also includes the principal of McGill University, who, twice in November 2011, ordered riot police onto that campus — police who also used pepper-spray against peaceful protesters. And it includes M.R.C. Greenwood, former UC provost, who left her post at the UC amid a scandal over improper hiring practices and conflicts of interest.
In other words, in the midst of international condemnation concerning the suppression of free speech and political dissent through police violence on our campus, Chancellor Katehi has chosen to surround herself with university administrators who have also used riot police to quell student protest and who have resigned amid scandals concerning the inappropriate use of administrative power. She has chosen to surround herself with the CEOs of corporations tied to war profiteering and environmental catastrophes.
While the chancellor now pretends to support the efforts of students and faculty to defend the public mission of the UC system, the composition of her new Advisory Board exemplifies a different vision: a future in which the shared governance of the university is replaced by ties to corporate interests that hasten, rather than struggle against, the privatization of the UC system.
What these developments since Nov. 18 confirm is what many students and faculty already realized then: that the chancellor’s decision to deploy riot police against students demonstrating in defense of public education was no “mistake” and had nothing to do with the “health and safety” of the campus community. Rather, it was the political content of the students’ protest that had to be suppressed due to the chancellor’s own political commitment and her own vision for the future of UC Davis: a commitment to the privatization of a great public university and a vision in which the interests of corporations and administrators take precedence over those of students.
Those of us calling for the chancellor’s resignation do not share that vision. There are many of us, and that is encouraging. For the good of the university, we continue to insist that the chancellor needs to step down.
— Nathan Brown is a professor of English at UC Davis. Reach him at email@example.com
Katehi: Campus police were told not to use force against students
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011 – 12:00 am | Page 1A
Last Modified: Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011 – 6:12 pm
As the tent city on the University of California, Davis, tripled in size, Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi insisted Tuesday that the school’s police department defied her orders when it used force against students in last week’s pepper-spray fiasco.
“We told the police to remove the tents or the equipment,” Katehi said in an interview with The Bee in her office inside the administration building, which remains locked down to the public.
“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.”
In her most expansive comments since Friday’s attempt to remove the tents spiraled into the pepper-spraying of students, Katehi said she still does not know who decided to use pepper spray and was stunned when she first saw video clips of it Friday night.
“It looked horrible, horrific, I would say … , ” Katehi said. “I can tell you that I woke up Saturday really early in the morning, like 3 a.m., and I felt like it was a disaster on our hands.”
She also said she never would have approved the use of full-scale riot gear by officers sent in to remove the students and that Police Chief Annette Spicuzza was part of an emergency conference call before the incident.
“We told her that it has to be peaceful, that anything else would not be acceptable,” Katehi said one day after Spicuzza was placed on administrative leave along with two officers who used the pepper spray.
Spicuzza did not respond to a message left at her home Tuesday, but she has previously said the officers used the pepper spray because they were being cut off from other police by the students. Video clips that have surfaced so far do not show that happening.
Katehi said Spicuzza indicated Saturday that it was Lt. John Pike who decided to use the pepper spray.
“I believe on Saturday when I spoke with her I said, ‘What happened?’ ” Katehi said. “She tried to explain that it was the decision of Lt. Pike.”
Pike’s voice mail has been full since Sunday, and he could not be reached.
Video clips of the officers spraying students who were sitting peacefully on the ground have been viewed online by millions of people since Friday and resulted in widespread calls for Katehi to resign.
She has resisted those calls and met with student groups several times Tuesday, including an afternoon session at which she called for all charges against 10 individuals in Friday’s incident – nine of them students – to be dropped.
She also said UC Davis and the UC system would cover all medical expenses incurred by students who were pepper- sprayed.
The effort last Friday to remove the campers, who had gathered to protest tuition hikes as a part of the growing Occupy Wall Street movement, backfired almost immediately.
After a Monday rally attended by thousands of students, faculty and others at which Katehi apologized, groups once again began to erect tents on the quad. By Tuesday, there were more than 75 tents, and Katehi said she would seek negotiations to coax them into leaving rather than take renewed police action.
Meanwhile, she has ordered police to remain ready to help campers if some sort of emergency arises, but to stay out of sight.
“They are on call, but they are not visible,” she said, adding that the school has brought in portable restrooms and is looking into providing facilities for food and drink to maintain a healthy environment.
Katehi visited the growing encampment at least twice on Tuesday with mixed results. In the morning, she said, she was able to speak with 20 to 30 students and “had a very good discussion.”
She was invited back about 11 a.m. during the group’s general assembly. But after she waited quietly for 20 minutes, the students could not agree on whether to deviate from their agenda to allow her to speak and she finally walked away.
On her way back to her office, Katehi was greeted by a number of students who expressed their support for her and said they do not believe she had approved of officers using force against the students.
“She was worried about the safety of the students,” said Kiran Ashan, a psychology junior.
“And I just feel that those (campers), some of them are from Occupy Sacramento, they’re not even Davis students,” Ashan said. “What are they doing on a Davis campus?
The use of force by campus police at Davis and Berkeley against protesters has resulted in a systemwide review by UC officials, and the Legislature agreed Tuesday to hold hearings on the matter.
In addition, UC President Mark Yudof announced that he has asked William Bratton, who has headed police forces in Los Angeles, Boston and New York, to conduct an independent review of Friday’s incident.
Katehi said the policies that campuses use to respond to encampments need to be changed as a result of the latest incidents.
University officials must “recognize that we are a campus of the 21st century, and students have different needs and different expectations of how to express themselves, and yet we have protocols of 30 or 40 years ago,” she said. “And we have a police force that has been trained for the incidents we dealt with 20 or 30 years ago.”
Chancellor’s remarks at Nov. 22 student dialogue and town hall
(Chancellor Katehi delivered the following remarks at the Nov. 22 student dialogue and town hall.)
We all know that UC Davis is a wonderful, strong and peaceful community and that the events of last weekend were a terrible shock to all of us.
Over the past few days I have been meeting with student groups large and small and of course, I am pleased to be here this evening.
I want to unequivocally apologize to the entire community for the appalling use of pepper spray. It betrayed our values and did not reflect well on this university.
You have my word that I will do everything in my power to make sure nothing like that ever happens again.
I also want to be the first to tell you:
I am requesting that all charges against students who have been arrested be dropped.
Any medical expenses incurred by any students involved will be refunded.
As I requested, an independent task force will examine the events that took place and report directly to UC President Mark Yudof.
While the task force needs to be given room to do its job, it is important for people to understand my specific actions.
I explicitly directed the chief of police that violence should be avoided at all costs. It was the absolute last thing I ever wanted to happen.
Because encampments have long been prohibited by UC policy, I directed police only to take down the tents.
My instructions were for no arrests and no police force.
I honor and respect the rights of students to protest peacefully. It is part of our DNA and it is a right that needs to be proactively protected.
I am also very proud of how the entire student body has responded to these events, in a calm, peaceful and respectful manner.
I understand the frustration and anger students are feeling right now. Our economy is in poor shape, employment prospects are the worst in decades and tuition has been increased a number of times.
As the task force and other independent reviews are being conducted, our immediate job is to unify our campus.
That is why I wanted to come here this evening – to hear your concerns and do the best I can to answer your questions.
When we return to campus next week after enjoying quiet time with our families during Thanksgiving, there will be a Regents meeting here on campus.
I know you will let your voices be heard once again about the need to support higher education and stop the funding cuts and tuition increases.
I have been on your side on that issue and will continue to push for more funding.
And I know that if you protest, you will show California and the rest of the nation the best of UC Davis by doing it peacefully and respectfully.
Thank you very much.
(end of Chancellor Katehi’s comments)
Response from President Mark Yudof
from President’s Office President@ucop.edu
date Tue, Nov 22, 2011 at 11:52 AM
subject Response from President Mark Yudof
Thank you for your email regarding the recent incident where UC Davis students were doused with pepper spray by campus police. As I am sure you will understand, I have received innumerable message about this and, although I would like to respond personally to each one, that is simply impossible given the volume. I am, therefore, sending this same response to all, but I want you to know that I am reading all the messages I have received.
Please know that I share your utter dismay over this shocking incident. In response, I have issued the following statement:
I am appalled by images of University of California students being doused with pepper spray and jabbed with police batons on our campuses.
I intend to do everything in my power as President of this university to protect the rights of our students, faculty and staff to engage in non-violent protest.
Chancellors at the UC Davis and UC Berkeley campuses already have initiated reviews of incidents that occurred on their campuses. I applaud this rapid response and eagerly await the results.
The University of California, however, is a single university with 10 campuses, and the incidents in recent days cry out for a systemwide response.
Therefore I will be taking immediate steps to set that response in motion.
I intend to convene all 10 Chancellors, either in person or by telephone, to engage in a full and unfettered discussion about how to ensure proportional law enforcement response to non-violent protest.
To that end, I will be asking the Chancellors to forward to me at once all relevant protocols and policies already in place on their individual campuses, as well as those that apply to the engagement of non-campus police agencies through mutual aid agreements.
Further, I already have taken steps to assemble experts and stake-holders to conduct a thorough, far-reaching and urgent assessment of campus police procedures involving use of force, including post-incident review processes.
My intention is not to micromanage our campus police forces. The sworn officers who serve on our campuses are professionals dedicated to the protection of the UC community.
Nor do I wish to micromanage the chancellors. They are the leaders of our campuses and they have my full trust and confidence.
Nonetheless, the recent incidents make clear the time has come to take strong action to recommit to the ideal of peaceful protest.
As I have said before, free speech is part of the DNA of this university, and non-violent protest has long been central to our history. It is a value we must protect with vigilance. I implore students who wish to demonstrate to do so in a peaceful and lawful fashion. I expect campus authorities to honor that right.
UC Davis Chancellor, Linda Katehi, has also issued a statement and I attach for your information a copy of her statement, as well as two media releases regarding the placing of the officers involved and the police chief on administrative leave. She has my full support in this matter and I am confident that she and her administration will work to preserve the health and safety of the campus community, and to conduct a fair review of this unfortunate event. I am sharing your message with her so that she, too, will be aware of your concerns.
With best wishes, I am,
Mark G. Yudof
Chancellor Katehi’s comments on the incident
Dear Member of the UC Davis Community:
Yesterday was not a day that would make anyone on our campus proud; indeed the events of the day need to guide us forward as we try to make our campus a better place of inquiry, debate, and even dissent. As I described in my previous letter to the community, this past week our campus was a site of week-long peaceful demonstrations during which students were able to express their concerns about many issues facing higher education, the University of California, our campus, our nation, and the world as a whole. Those events involved multiple rallies in the Quad and an occupation of Mrak Hall which ended peacefully a day later.
However, the events on Friday were a major deviation from that trend. In the aftermath of the troubling events we experienced, I will attempt to provide a summary of the incident with the information now available to me.
After a week of peaceful exchange and debate, on Thursday a group of protestors including UC Davis students and other non-UC Davis affiliated individuals established an encampment of about 25 tents on the Quad. The group was reminded that while the university provides an environment for students to participate in rallies and express their concerns and frustrations through different forums, university policy does not allow such encampments on university grounds.
On Thursday, the group stayed overnight despite repeated reminders by university staff that their encampment violated university policies and they were requested to disperse. On Friday morning, the protestors were provided with a letter explaining university policies and reminding them of the opportunities the university provides for expression. Driven by our concern for the safety and health of the students involved in the protest, as well as other students on our campus, I made the decision not to allow encampments on the Quad during the weekend, when the general campus facilities are locked and the university staff is not widely available to provide support.
During the early afternoon hours and because of the request to take down the tents, many students decided to dismantle their tents, a decision for which we are very thankful. However, a group of students and non-campus affiliates decided to stay. The university police then came to dismantle the encampment. The events of this intervention have been videotaped and widely distributed. As indicated in various videos, the police used pepper spray against the students who were blocking the way. The use of pepper spray as shown on the video is chilling to us all and raises many questions about how best to handle situations like this.
To this effect, I am forming a task force made of faculty, students and staff to review the events and provide to me a thorough report within 90 days. As part of this, a process will be designed that allows members of the community to express their views on this matter. This report will help inform our policies and processes within the university administration and the Police Department to help us avoid similar outcomes in the future. While the university is trying to ensure the safety and health of all members of our community, we must ensure our strategies to gain compliance are fair and reasonable and do not lead to mistreatment.
Furthermore, I am asking the office of Administrative and Resource Management and the office of Student Affairs to review our policies in relation to encampments of this nature and consider whether our existing policies reflect the needs of the students at this point in time. If our policies do not allow our students enough flexibility to express themselves, then we need to find a way to improve these policies and make them more effective and appropriate.
Our campus is committed to providing a safe environment for all to learn freely and practice their civil rights of freedom of speech and expression. At the same time, our campus has the responsibility to ensure the safety of all others who use the same spaces and rely on the same facilities, tools, environments and processes to practice their freedoms to work and study. While the university has the responsibility to develop the appropriate environments that ensure the practice of these freedoms, by no means should we allow a repeated violation of these rules as an expression of personal freedom.
Through this letter, I express my sadness for the events of past Friday and my commitment to redouble our efforts to improve our campus and the environment for our students.
Linda P.B. Katehi
Mark’s message including video links
November 20, 2011
I am so proud of the way the students at UC Davis have conducted themselves yesterday.
Their behavior is in stark and complete contrast to the gutless and unprincipled actions by the University of California Davis, in particular Chancellor Linda Katehi and the UC Davis police.
There are 2 videos I want to share with you both on commondreams.org
The first one shows the campus police all in riot gear and one of them pepper spraying a line of students peacefully demonstrating, sitting with their heads down. I will not spoil it for you. You have to watch it to believe it. The students’ response was . . . I do not have adequate words for it. It is exactly the way it should have been.
The second one shows UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi finally leaving the administration building and once again I won’t spoil it for you. Watching this made me so proud of the students and more hopeful then I have EVER been that there will be change and progress.
These events will be remembered as milestones in the Occupy movement nationwide and worldwide, I believe. Students and peaceful demonstrators everywhere can watch these videos and learn from them. I hope this scene, well in a way I hope it does not have to get repeated but actually I really hope it does get repeated on other campuses.
The bonding that these students experienced from going through this together will last a lifetime. This is hands on training as activists that they could never get in a classroom.