Two hospitalized at University of California at Davis... Video shows latest police use of 'pepper spray' against non-violent protest

A dramatic photograph and video from the University of California at Davis (November 19, 2011) showing a police officer walking down a line of seated students and spraying them with pepper spray (ultimately sending two to the hospital) has become an international event. As the "Occupy" movement enters its third month, there seems to be a lot more coordination from coast to coast and police and government officials begin to crack down on the protests and the protesters.

One of the most widely viewed of the videos, available here, has even been shared via National Propaganda Radio (NPR). The URL for that video, which had reached more than three quarters of a million views by Sunday, November 20, is:

One of the earliest dramatic moments in the movement came in New York City, where protesters photographed a New York police lieutenant corralling, then spraying peaceful protesters with what has been called "pepper spray". Actually, although the usual form of "pepper spray" is in fact made from peppers, police have also used it as a chemical warfare agent more commonly known as CS gas. Contrary to claims that the use of the spray is not dangerous (although extremely painful to victims in the hands of sadists), the spray can be dangerous or even deadly when used against people with certain lung and breathing problems, of when used in closed spaces. (A form of it was one of several chemical warfare agents used by the USA against Vietnamese fighters in tunnels during the Vietnam War, and was often fatal to those in the cramped spaces inside the tunnels).

Police spraying non-violent student protesters at the University of California at Davis on November 17, 2011. The first dramatic use of "pepper spray" against the current Occupy protesters was vividly recorded in New York City in September. On November 16, the same incident was repeated a continent away, at the University of California at Davis, according to the following news report from Huffington Post.

UC Davis Police Pepper-Spray Seated Students In Occupy Dispute By Jason Cherkis, Huffington Post, November 19, 2011

On Friday, a group of University of California, Davis students, part of the Occupy Wall Street movement on campus, became the latest victims of alleged police brutality to be captured on video. The videos show the students seated on the ground as a UC Davis police officer brandishes a red canister of pepper spray, showing it off for the crowd before dousing the seated students in a heavy, thick mist.

This incident recalls the earlier infamous pepper spraying by a New York Police Department official of several women who were seated and penned in. The UC Davis images are further proof that police continue to resort to brutal tactics when confronting Occupy activists. One woman was transported to a hospital to be treated for chemical burns.

Police spraying a protester in the mouth during an Occupy protest in Portland on November 17, 2011."The UC Davis students were peacefully protesting on the quad," wrote the student who took the videos in an email to The Huffington Post. The filmmaker, a senior, asked that his name not be used for fear of retribution by campus authorities. "The cop gave them 3 minutes to disperse before he said they would come and disturb the protest. The main objective for them was removing the tents. ... The students did have a right to be on campus, they were assembling peacefully and the campus was open at the time."

In a longer version of the video, the students are shown seated across a stretch of walkway surrounded by more than a dozen UC Davis cops, dressed in riot gear and clutching batons. Many other students are standing along the sides of the scene, watching and protesting as the standoff unfolded. Some students shouted "Thugs on campus!" and "From Davis to Greece, fuck the police!" Those chants were tamped down quickly by others, who warned all to "Keep it peaceful" and "Keep it nonviolent."

The students held up that promise.

They started up a new chant that would prove prophetic: "You use weapons! We use our voice!"

At one point, one of the riot cops ambles over to the seated line and asks one of the students a question. The student replies, "We're sitting here."

The police officer then returns to his position with the other officers. He also turns his back on the seated students, as does at least one other officer. They show no fear that the students might turn violent or threatening. The first cop talks on his radio for a while.

After a few "mic checks" and few more chants, a cop goes back to the seated students. The student asks, "You're gonna shoot me for sitting here? You're shooting us for sitting here?"

Roughly a minute later, the officer can be seen shaking the pepper spray canister as the gathered students start shouting, "Don't shoot your children!"

As the officer began spraying the group of students, onlookers screamed, "Don't do it! Don't you do it!"

A news account captured the officer on camera spraying the students. The account names the officer as UC Davis Police Lt. John Pike. He did not return a voice mail message nor an email left Friday night. His voice-mail box eventually filled up to capacity as his name and phone number were posted on Twitter.

The UC Davis Police Department did not return calls from The Huffington Post seeking comment.

The UC Davis chancellor, Linda P.B. Katehi, released a statement Friday. It states, "We deeply regret that many of the protestors today chose not to work with our campus staff and police to remove the encampment as requested. We are even more saddened by the events that subsequently transpired to facilitate their removal."

Nathan Brown, an assistant English professor at the university, released an open letter to the chancellor, calling for her resignation. He wrote, "You are responsible for it because this is what happens when UC Chancellors order police onto our campuses to disperse peaceful protesters through the use of force: students get hurt."

The student filmmaker, who says he is not part of Occupy Davis, told HuffPost, "I couldn't believe it. I didn't think such a thing would ever happen on campus over a tent being on campus. It's embarrassing on the part of the police to take such actions."

Another video shows officers body-slamming a student in what appears to be a confrontation earlier in the day. Ten students were arrested Friday on campus.

After the pepper spraying, the crowd of students began marching down the quad. The UC Davis cops? They're pushed back down the walkway and finally leave. The students start an old cheer that rang true again, "Whose quad? Our quad!"

UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza defended her officers' actions to KCRA. She argued that it just wasn't safe for students to camp on the quad. "It's not safe for multiple reasons," Spicuzza said.

In a report by the CBS Sacramento station Friday night, Spicuzza said the officers' own safety was also a concern. "If you look at the video, you are going to see that there were 200 people in that quad," she said. "Hindsight is 20-20, and based on the situation we were sitting in, ultimately that was the decision that was made." Spicuzza also said authorities were reviewing the videos.

UPDATE: Nov. 19, 11:55 a.m. -- Claudia Morain, a UC Davis spokesperson, told The Huffington Post that there were 35 police officers on the scene, 50 occupiers and 200 bystanders.

She said that UC Davis officials had warned the occupiers that they could not set up a tent city. They were given notice that they had to clear out their tents by 3 p.m. on Friday. Some complied. Others did not.

"I can't speak for the thought process for the officer," Morain noted about the use of pepper spray. She said that the officers were essentially trapped (the videos suggest otherwise) and had to transport several of the arrested students. "The pepper spray was used because they needed to get out of there," she said, emphasizing that the students were repeatedly warned before the spray was deployed.

Morain admitted that she had not thoroughly studied the videos of the incident.

But she said, "We are just not going to allow a tent city. Just period. In these budget times, we shouldn't use resources that should be going to our core academic mission going to a tent city."

Nine students and one nonstudent were arrested. "The police tried to use the least force that they could," Morain explained.

Riot Police Brutality on UC Davis Quad

SUBJECT LINE: Resign, Sadist, in an email to the officer who sprayed the students...

E-mail to Lt. Pike

By J.A. Myerson Novemer 18, 2011

He's the one spraying horrible chemicals on UC Davis students in this video:

Do yourself a favor and watch until the triumphant end.

Here's the e-mail I just sent dude. (Subject line: Resign, sadist.)

Dear Lt. Pike,

Watching you casually deploy chemical weaponry against non-violent students who posed no threat to anyone at all, brandishing it at first as though this were some demonstration in an infomercial rather than a particularly nasty violation of the 4th Amendment to the Constitution, which case law shows prohibits excessive force, is an absolutely sick-making exercise. You and the other officers were justly surrounded and forced out by the young, unarmed civilians, merely exercising their First Amendment right to peaceable assembly, but you ought to go one step further and resign. Your actions shock the conscience, and you should be in prison, not empowered.

Very sincerely, JAM, November 19, 2011

ALSO BEING DISCUSSED IS THE FIRST AMENDMENT. Occupy is generating a Bill of Rights seminar, as well as widespread discussion of banking laws and the nature of capitalism.

Video UC Davis: "The Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble." Crew of 42 November 19, 2011. Posted by Lauren Victoria Burke

The URL for the eight-minute video is:

1st Amendment anyone? Funny that we hear so much about "the right to keep an bear arms." Just this week the House passed a bill to make it easier for people to carry a concealed firearm from state to state. Why do so many conservatives and Tea Party supporters suddenly have amnesia regarding peaceable assembly? wiki: "The United States constitution explicitly provides for `the

right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.'" in the First Amendment. Freedom of assembly, sometimes used interchangeably with the freedom of association, is the individual right to come together and collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests.The right to freedom of association is

recognized as a human right, a political freedom and a civil liberty." Image as you watch this what would be said by Ann Coulter, Jeff Beck and the gang if these were Tea Party demonstrators. Why should it make a difference?


(CNN) -- Under pressure to resign, the chancellor of the University of California, Davis, on Saturday called police use of pepper spray on seated Occupy protesters "chilling" and established a task force to look into the incident.

A campus police officer, in a sweeping motion, sprayed protesters point blank on Friday before other officers moved in. Eleven people were treated on site for effects of the yellow spray. Two of them were sent to the hospital, university officials said.

"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," Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi said in a statement.

The incident set off a flood of comments on the school's Facebook page, most of them critical of police and the administration.

Protesters rallied again Saturday evening, chanting "resignation" and "we are peaceful, you are not."

In a news conference, Katehi refused calls from faculty members and others for her to step down, saying she did not violate campus policies and that she has worked to make UC Davis a safe campus.

"Very unexpected, sad and very inappropriate at least on the face of it," she said of the incident, adding she wants the task force to look at how students can safely express their opinions. Officers sent in to remove tents had been encircled by protesters, creating a safety issue, police said.

Katehi later told CNN's Don Lemon that she considered the police actions "unacceptable," but stressed she has no plans to step down.

"We really want to look into this very carefully and take action ... make sure that it will never happen again on our campus," she said.

The Davis Faculty Association, citing incidents at other campuses, demanded "that the chancellors of the University of California cease using police violence to repress nonviolent political protests." It called for greater attention to cuts in state funding to education and rising tuition. Its board demanded Katehi resign, saying she exhibited "gross failure of leadership."

"Student debt has reached unprecedented levels as bank profits swell," the group said on its website.

Time: Watch video of police pepper-spraying and arresting students

UC Davis spokeswoman Claudia Morain told CNN that 25 tents were in place Friday afternoon -- despite fliers explaining the campus prohibits overnight camping. It does so for security and health reasons, Katehi said.

After written and verbal warnings, officers reminded the protesters they would be subject to arrest if they did not move their tents from the quad, Morain said. Many protesters did decide to remove their tents and equipment, officials said.

A group of about a dozen protesters sat on a path with their arms interlocked as police moved in to remove additional tents. Most of the protesters had their heads down.

At one point, protesters encircled the officers and blocked them from leaving, Morain said. Cut off from backup, the officers determined the situation was not safe and asked people several times to make room, Morain said. One officer used pepper spray when a couple of protesters and some of the 200 bystanders moved in, she added.

One of the protesters hit by the spray told CNN's Lemon that she was still feeling some after-effects Saturday evening.

"I was shocked," said Sophia Kamran. "When students are sitting on the ground and no way of moving to be violent, being totally peaceful, I don't understand the use of pepper spray against them."

Kamran said she and others had sat down in "solidarity" of five others she said were arbitrarily arrested by officers.

Annette Spicuzza, chief of campus police, said officers in riot gear were unable to get out after they were encircled.

A use of force review will "determine whether we made all the right decisions and handled it the way we should have handled it," Spicuzza told reporters.

Ten people were arrested during the face-off, Morain said late Friday. Tentative citations were failure to disperse and lodging without permission.

Morain said the pepper spray was used in lieu of batons. "Obviously, they use this only as a last resort," she said of the officers.

Katehi said the incident followed weeklong peaceful demonstrations on the campus over the cost of higher education and other issues.

"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," she wrote. "However, a group of students and non-campus affiliates decided to stay. The university police then came to dismantle the encampment. ... 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."

Katehi said the task force made of faculty, students and staff will review the events and provide a report within 90 days.

"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," she said.



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