University of California Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi said on Wednesday that campus police had explicit orders when confronting Occupy UC Davis protesters in the school’s quad last week — but those orders were ignored, she says.
“We told the police to remove the tents or the equipment," Katehi told The Sacramento Bee. "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."
What happened, it turns out, would evoke as much public outcry as the infamous UC Berkley riots of the 1960s. On Nov. 18, police in riot gear were caught on video pepper spraying a group of Occupy UC Davis protesters who were seated peacefully in front of their encampment. Lt. John Pike was identified as the officer who decided to use the pepper spray; he and another officer were put on administrative leave.
Sympathizers have cried foul of the officer’s use of force, though the UC Davis police chief responded saying the officers were concerned for their own safety. Katehi announced on Nov. 19 a task force-led investigation into the incident. In addition, University of California President Mark G. Yudof has initiated an independent review to be completed in the next 30 days.
Following last week’s incident, thousands of students, faculty and others attended a rally at the UC Davis campus on Monday. By Tuesday, protesters were showing their full support as 75 tents had been erected in the school’s quad. Students had previously been told that they couldn’t camp in the area, though Katehi said Tuesday she would seek negotiations to coax them into leaving rather than enlisting police action.
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