Police Pepper Spraying UC Davis Students

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54 Responses to Police Pepper Spraying UC Davis Students

  1. Kal says:

    Thanks for your open letter. Just sent the following to Katehi:

    Chancellor Katehi,

    I have just seen video of what occurred on your campus yesterday. As a California native, as a recent college graduate, and as a human being, I am horrified and outraged. Pepper spray was used by police not in self-defense, and not even, illegitimately, as crowd control, but purely and simply as punishment. There is no excuse for this.

    I do not understand why you have not already resigned. In addition to the physical harm to students in your charge, you have done irreparable damage to the reputation and community of UC Davis. I do not understand why at least one police officer, Lieutenant Pike, is not in a holding cell awaiting trial on multiple assault charges. But you are not a prosecutor. You merely commanded police action.

    You, Chancellor Katehi, are the shame of UC Davis. Resign. Now.


  2. danlwarren says:

    If there are any other alumni reading this, I suggest you write to the chancellor and alumni association to let them know that your checkbooks are permanently closed to them until there is an appropriate response to this incident. I for one will be damned if I will give a penny to an institution that behaves in this fashion.

    • Ross Allen says:

      I am an alumnus and I did just that this morning in a letter to the Chancellor.

      • B. X. Berlin says:

        I’m UCD 1987 and did the same thing today. It’s not the same school I remember attending when James Meyer was Chancellor. In fact, relations with the campus police were friendly back then as is apt to happen when you cross paths with the same people day-in/day-out for a number of years. It’s a sad state of affairs, and the same can be said for public higher education in general in California.

    • Katherine Parker Bryden says:

      Sent this morning:

      Dear Linda Katehi,
      please step down. Now. And please, maintain some shred of dignity: don’t bother defending your decision to unleash riot police on a circle of students on the Quad, historically a place for students to gather and (gasp!) even protest. Just state the obvious: You were wrong. You are not able to act in the best interests of students, faculty, or the institution.

      As an Aggie, I am sickened by this event. As an alumna, I would only consider giving money to a scholarship fund that benefits the sprayed protesters. At least they have courage and a moral compass, something you and your police force obviously lack. Good luck finding some of both — they will help with that resignation letter.
      Katherine Parker Bryden
      Studio Art and Art History, class of 1995


    These protestors should look into some form of legal action to take against the UCDPD.
    I noticed people talking about the Humboldt police brutality cases of the 1990s and I found this article. I’m sure people would rejoice for justice the way they did for Kelley Thomas this summer after the Fullerton PD beat him to death.

    or google Q-Tip Pepper Spray Case 1997

  4. E2 says:

    I am an alumna who sent an email to the chancellor. You can email Chancellor Katehi @
    Keep up the good fight!

  5. Elizabeth L. Mead says:

    I would like to know (in addition to writing a letter to the chancellor and/or alumni association what I can do to get these cops fired. I am deeply disturbed and horrified by these videos. I cannot understand how this level of force against non-violent protesters can ever be considered justified. I do not live in Davis but I am a California resident. Please let me know the best and most effective way I can add my voice to the many who have expressed outrage over this incident.

    Elizabeth L. Mead

  6. Tim Rehwaldt says:

    Wow, that is truly the stuff of nightmares and, so sadly, representative of what has become of our country. How can we possibly allow anyone in an authoritative position on a university campus to teach such intolerance? Professor Brown’s call for the chancellor’s immediate resignation is entirely appropriate, and I would strongly suggest that students and alumni join together to ensure this happens. I intend to forward both the video and Professor Brown’s letter to everyone I know. Let’s make this happen. Those kids are in danger.

    • crank says:

      Your sentiments are very much appreciated. Part of the problem, though, is that university administrators operate with a view of student protesters as wayward children who require discipline, rather than as politically conscious adults who, in most cases, have a far more sophisticated understanding of politics, power, and today’s media environment than the administrators. Calling students “kids” perpetuates the paternalism of the administration and is, technically speaking, inaccurate.

  7. Wow.. Just wow. I’ve joined in and mailed chancellor Katehi to express my outrage.

    “Chancellor Katehi,

    I am not a student, nor am I even a California/ US resident. However, as any human being would after finding out what happened yesterday, I feel the need to express my outrage about the situation. In no way has this police performance benefited anyone. All it’s done is hurt people; the very people you claim you want to keep safe. Your words and actions are a pure and utter disgrace to UC Davis and it’s students. I can only agree with mr. Nathan Brown, and anyone else with a sense of dignity, that you have failed in your duties, that you have failed as a chancellor, and that you have failed as a human being. You have failed to uphold basic moral values, as you have failed to respect the right of free speech, and the act of peaceful demonstration. I have never met you and yet, you’ve already lost all my respect.”

  8. Ari says:

    I just sent the following letter:

    Chancellor Katehi,

    I am a UC Davis alumnus, class of 2004. I call on you to resign your position as chancellor, in light of your decision to order police to remove student protestors from the quad on Friday.

    It is utterly baffling why students peacefully seated on the ground need to be pepper sprayed and beaten with batons and arrested. Was there no other way to deal with the situation? How much negotiation and dialogue did you engage in with the protestors beforehand? In what ways have you tried to address their concerns? Have they completely rebuffed all attempts at compromise? Was there no deal that you could have struck with them that would have avoided the awful physical violence that occurred on Friday? Why must they be removed from the quad in the first place? What legitimate purpose does such an action serve?

    That you saw the threat and use of physical violence as the only feasible option for dealing with student protestors is a failure of leadership severe enough to be disqualifying. I call on you to resign immediately.

    Ari Krupnick

  9. A UCD Alum says:

    As a result of the Open Letter a petition has been started that asks for the Chancellor’s resignation. I view this as one way to demonstrate to the UC Administration that the encouragement of police-against-student violence is not acceptable.


  10. Christina Tarr says:

    I’m a librarian at UC Berkeley. I cannot believe that after what happened at Berkeley the Davis Chancellor would do the same thing! I cannot believe that the campus spokeswoman would issue remarks having not seen the video. Birgeneau made exactly that mistake and looked like a fool. I can’t believe any of this! It’s appalling!

  11. Be the change ... says:

    I already signed the petition bellow. I looked up contacts in hopes others will join in the call for peace, the right to free speech, and affordable education. The adults in this video have been victims of violence. There needs to be consequences for those that perpetuate brutality. I want their jobs removed from them. Law suits against them seems like a nice possibility too.

    To Write the US Davis Chancellor Katehi: http://chancellor.ucdavis.edu/

    To Write the University of California President Mark G. Yodof about Chancellor Katehi, amongst other things: http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/president/

    To petition for Chancellor Katehi’s resignation because you feel that she is unfit for the job: http://www.change.org/petitions/police-pepper-spray-peaceful-uc-davis-students-ask-chancellor-katehi-to-resign#share

    The officer who sprayed the students was UC Davis Police Lt. John Pike
    Lieutenant John Pike – (530) 752-3989 – japikeiii@ucdavis.edu

  12. apciv says:

    Linda Katehi,

    Professor Brown is exactly right: you should immediately resign as chancellor of UC Davis for the appalling abuse of students who are, ostensibly, under your care. The decision by campus police to inflame the situation by using militarized tactics is ultimately your responsibility. Clearly you lack the perspicacity and compassion necessary for the job of leading a university campus.

    Sean Connelly
    Humanities Dept.
    San Francisco State University

  13. Pingback: Paramilitary policing and police brutality from Seattle to Occupy Wall Street « Keithpp's Blog

  14. keithpp says:

    The Chancellor should resign as she is clearly not a fit human being to head a major university. She has brought the university and her office into disrepute.

    Those who were attacked should not only bring legal action against the police, they should also bring legal action against Chancellor Katehi.

    Criminal charges should also be brought.


  15. Anonymous UC Student says:

    From a friend’s blog post:

    Dear John Pike (I will leave off the lieutenant as you are unfit to hold that title now),

    I was never extremely involved in the Occupy movement. To be honest, at first, I didn’t care too much about it, or know much about it. But after seeing what you did to those people in Davis today, I can’t help but be dragged into this revolution.

    As a UCSD student, I am very, very much concerned about your actions today at the University of California, Davis. Even though I am hundreds of miles away from Davis and your squad of officers (thank God), I am incredibly threatened, angered, and scared by the way you portrayed peace officers and the police in general today. In every encounter I have ever had with a police officer, they have always pointed me in the right way, looked out for my safety, and their actions have made my community safer. They are a great asset and they personally sacrifice alot to keep my community safe.

    You do them a disservice by holding onto your title and acting out on defenseless students. When scholars like myself band together in solidarity to support what our fellow pupils on the other side of California are doing to voice our right to a public education, you have no place in physically harming them and sending them to the hospital. People have this on video – there is nothing those students huddled on the ground did to threaten your safety or the safety of your officers. There is no reason you should have brought out the pepper spray. When they attempted to defend themselves against your chemically infused, dangerous and painful pepper spray, you maliciously, forcefully, and brutally shoved it down their throats and forced it in their faces.

    You were appointed to be a police officer in order to protect our communities and to make students, faculty, and citizens feel safe. As a result of your actions, the majority of people I talked to feel especially scared. You abused your title as a police officer and you mistreated the trust that students put in you to defend their rights. When ‘young people’ say, “fuck the police”, they are talking about the minority that you represent – the ones who wave the threat of violence over innocent heads in order to make your job of clearing out students easier, and the ones who give up on peaceful negotiations and resort to the brandishing of authority in our faces. We protested in peace and we did not disrupt any daily activities. You responded with violence and caused a huge commotion across all social media networks. And the crowd that sympathizes with us continues to grow. How’s that for silencing the 99%?

    You have embarrassed the United States and all the values we stand for as a country. You are a poor misrepresentation of the University of California that you claim to serve. This country stands for freedom – what our fathers came and created, and what is evoked through the Constitution that clearly upholds our freedom of speech and right to a peaceful protest. Today, you took that away from us. You owe the Davis students you mishandled and belittled, and whose faces you had your fellow officers shove into the ground, more than just an apology. You owe them their dignity, their well-being, and you owe them a lifetime of commitment for the faith you took away from them in the Davis community, and peace officers in general. You should be ashamed of what you did today.

    I hope you understand the repercussions of your actions that citizens will have to bear for a long time. Longer than the 10 seconds you walked in front of those innocent students and sprayed them with mace today. They will bear the effects of your violence for far longer than just that. You have destroyed much of what police officers have built up over the past years: community trust. With your simple action, you have knocked apart the foundation on which officer-citizen relationships are built upon. You claim to promote peace, yet you are a demonstration of the very violence and unjust reasoning that you hope to squash out. I hope you take appropriate action to ensure that faith in the Davis police department is restored, for the sake of yourself, your peers, and the community you claim to care for. If such a magnanimous action exists.

    And you should also be careful. History will repeat itself. It always does. Karma, God, whatever dogmatic practices you may believe in; they’re all on our side for this one. We have done nothing wrong by peacefully speaking out against something we do not agree with, and you have no right to attack us simply because you do not like what we have to say. This country is not a totalitarian one, and who are you to treat it as such? I have complete faith that my fellow students and I will make moves and continue to work toward our goal; your violent outbursts only continue to fuel that fire inside of us.

    Best (but not really),

    An extremely concerned UC student

  16. Dave says:

    Where is the National Guard in all this. As defender of the Constitution, Obama should be sending them down there to defend the right of United States citizens to peacefully protest, and to defend them against the unlawful actions of the police.

  17. Sunshinems says:

    “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” – John F. Kennedy

  18. Anonymous New School Student says:

    Linda P.B. Katehi,

    I am a graduate student at The New School for Social Research where, as I write this letter to you, New York City university students are peacefully occupying one of our school’s buildings. To the credit of our President and Provost, so far, students’ right to free expression and protest have been upheld. But let’s get to the point, shall we?

    More than the fact that you are directly responsible for the brutal attack of peacefully demonstrating students, I am disgusted that, rather than admitting culpability and resigning, you have also chosen to patronize the US Davis community by claiming that you have worked “very hard to make [the US Davis] campus a safe campus for all.” Clearly, you are delusional. Linda P.B. Katehi, you are the greatest threat to the safety of UC Davis students.

    In solidarity with faculty and students at UC Davis, I am asking that you, a delusional and patronizing menace, resign immediately.

  19. Barbara Kuhn says:

    I’m a parent of a UC Davis student. I’ve love the campus and town, but I am appalled at the behavior of this Chancellor, and the content of the two emails that she has sent out over the course of this day. Both are upsetting and insulting. I have given money to the University over the years my son has been attending, but wrote the Chancellor this morning that there would certainly be no more funds coming from my husband and myself, until she takes responsibility for this trampling of democracy and does the right thing by resigning. And I agree with the writer above, that the video of the officer shows clearly that he is assaulting the non-resisting, non-violent students sitting on the ground with the pepper spray! Charges need to be filed!

    • Katherine Parker Bryden says:

      If one of my sons were attending UCD right now, we’d be having a conversation about what school he would like to transfer to because I would not want him attending UCD with its current leadership in place. I would encourage parents and current students to vote with their feet and pocketbooks. If students took a withdrew or even took a quarter off en masse, it might send a message to the administration that students are the heart of the institution.

  20. Mary says:

    I’m not an alum, but my daughter’s working on her Davis application right now. Cal Poly’s looking better and better. Is this how UC plans to recruit the best and the brightest?

  21. Hal says:

    I hope that in her address Monday she leads off with announcing her resignation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZ0t9ez_EGI

  22. Alex Patino says:

    Dear Chancellor of UC Davis,

    You are a disgrace to your student body and the position you hold. Obviously the civil rights of American students has no interest to you. Maybe your salary is more important or maybe it is your reputation. Regardless, it is pitiful for anyone in your position to order such brutal actions over peaceful assembly. I demand your resignation.

  23. Columbina Silk says:

    Does anyone have footage of the ‘press’ gallery and the Chancellor leaving? Powerful imagery right there.

    I live all the way over in Australia and I would still lobby for her resignation over this. There is simply no way to recover, can’t she understand?

  24. I am not an alum of UC Davis. I am not an American either. But sitting 8000 miles away in Bangalore, I am sick and nauseated at the blatant annihilation of human rights that the police and administration have demonstrated. And it seems this is not a one-off rogue incident. It’s a meticulous, planned attack against peacefully protesting students. STUDENTS. The ones who are going to be the spine of tomorrow’s society.

    I have had the misfortune of having been involved in similar brutality by the police when I was a student growing up in India. For protesting against fee hike. I can understand the agony.

    But I am so proud for all of the students and faculty who are standing steadfast. I pray justice is served soon.

  25. As a member of the professoriate (retired), UCLA ’69 grad, and witness to all of the demonstrations during the 1960’s and early 1970’s, I am appalled by what I see as gross indifference and criminal neglect for the safety and welfare of the students and faculty at UC Davis. I join in calls for Chancellor Katehi to resign immediately. She is not fit to preside over any University or College, or Community College, or Kindergarten for that matter. Her actions are beneath contempt and criminal at the very least.

  26. Renee Thomas says:

    I stand in complete agreement with your demand. We, as an obstensibly free people, cannot permit such an attack on the rights of citizens to go unanswered. Answer it we must with our voices raised in outrage and with our very bodies if need be. The stakes are too high for the voices of the American People to be silent for even a moment longer.

  27. Pingback: OPEN LETTER TO CHANCELLOR LINDA B. KATEHI « Horiwood's Blog

  28. Kevin says:

    My own letter to the Chancellor:

    I never attended UC Davis, but I did attend a university that had/has as much right to peaceful protest, a university where students decided to utilize their rights and freedoms granted under the Constitution to protest tuition hikes. The response? Police brutality, marked by pepper-spraying, beatings and arrests.

    In other words, the same principles the police force under your command applied on the students of UC Davis. Whether you condone the violence or not, you have NO right to break up peaceful protests in public. Whether you condone the violence or not, YOUR actions and YOUR decision to send police forces onto campus–which resulted in violence perpetrated by the police and NOT the students–determine that this is now your responsibility and your crime. You have now become ultimately responsible for the injuries sustained by numerous students, all in the name of the massive lie you call security. This is not security; no, Chancellor Katehi, this is suppression of freedom of speech and right to protest. It’s a parallel of the situations we’re currently seeing all over the country, and the world. In a nation that is increasingly becoming tired of seeing the leaders we depend on to protect us and instead taking the opposite route and crushing protests, suppressing freedom of speech, and responding to peaceful demonstrations with violence, you should have understood that this decision of yours would have backfired the way it did. Now the result is on your hands.

    The evidence is clear; you are unfit to be chancellor. You are unfit to provide ANY sort of guarantee of security to the students of UC Davis, or any student body at any university. You are unfit to hold office within an educational vicinity of any degree, and if you had any sense of dignity you would resign from your position immediately. You are not a representation of the student body nor a representation of security. Your actions have tarnished not just the university’s reputation, but yours as well. You are a disgrace to the name of UC Davis, to the name of America, and to humanity. You lack even basic understanding of moral and political rights that Americans expect and deserve of our leaders in any position. Having failed to understand this, you are not even worthy of the respect of anyone. Congratulations.

    Step down.

  29. Wowland says:

    UC Davis. Since when is Davis in China? Or is it in America?

    America: Land of the Free (TM) (*)

    (*) Limited time offer. Only valid for paying customers and if accompanied with an order. Void where prohibited. Not applicable in universities, schools and other public places. Only one unit per family. Batteries not included. Use only as directed. No other warranty expressed or implied. Subject to approval. No user-serviceable parts inside. All rights reserved. Additional restrictions may apply.

  30. Peter Stone says:

    Sent an email to both the Chancellor and to the UCD Police Chief insisting they resign for this appalling act of police brutality and sadism.

    B.S., UC Davis, 1989
    M.S., UC Davis, 1994

  31. Peter Stone says:


    If anyone wants to email a complaint to police chief Anne Spicuzza, the email is publicly available on the UCD Police Webpage for submitting complaints and commendations….



  32. katiebman says:

    I’ve always thought of the UC system as liberal,open, tolerant. Thank you for exposing them.


  34. lee lloyd says:

    I am disgusted by this. The injuring of peaceful protesters is completely unacceptable. Resign now!

  35. M.A says:

    I am here in Cambodia, we support the students in their legitimate protests to petition against grievances. You are protected by your first amendment rights, you are also protected by your second amendment rights. These rights are non-negotiable, and any restrictions whatsoever placed upon them are unconstitutional, including ‘permits’ or any other so-called ‘laws’. I applaud you for not resorting to your second amendment rights. The supreme court has ruled that you are entitled to resist, even if it results in injury to the officers in exercising your rights. I fear your ‘government’ will not stand down even as it violates your constitution continually. Rise up USA, your time has come.

  36. I’m just a resident of San Diego, but I was moved to write the Chancellor on Saturday morning…

    Dear Chancellor,

    You either need to guarantee protection from police thuggery and brutality against the young adults under your charge, or you should resign.

    It is just incredible, that you allowed this scene to transpire on a University in the United States of America, where supposedly peaceable assembly
    is protected by the First Amendment of our Constitution.

    You know, that document that is studied in various classes in your UC Davis’s class schedule.


    All the best to the students and faculty of UC Davis, in what should be one hell of a protest response to this incident.

  37. I am not a student at U C Davis. I am a Mother of five daughters. Daughters who sometimes want to go to college. Any college you represent is now on a No-Go list.

  38. The Chancellor should resign, and the offending officers should be charged with assault. Anyone who over reacts in this fashion has amply demonstrated their incompetence. When dogs are mistreated in this fashion, there is a major investigation and the offending individuals face criminal charges.

    Does the fact that there have been no charges and the Chancellor has not resigned mean that these students do not have the same protections as dogs?

    One final note: These men are not COPS, they’re officers. There is only one Cop, as it stands for Chief of Police. Furthermore, these abusive men should not be used to tar and feather all officers. Anyone who has witnessed officers risking their lives for others knows that these individuals were wildly out of line, as were the other officers who allowed these sadistic men to continue.

    Greg K Hubbard

  39. Tom Conlon - B.A., UCSC 1992 says:

    Chancellor Katehi,
    Ironically my daughter applied to attend UC Davis as an undergraduate just one day before your orders to the campus police resulted in this shameful pepper spray incident. Needless to say, our family’s opinion of Davis — and of UC in general — has been severely shaken.

    We implore you to publicly apologize and submit your resignation to the Trustees at once. Absent your taking full responsibility for your actions and the violence you have caused, I can no longer consider UCD to be a viable option for our daughter’s education.


  40. Howling says:

    I have sent this email to the Chancellor:
    In 1989, I worked at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Apartheid was in place and California was one of the States that vociferously supported economic sanctions. Our Black student society had been banned from assembling for many years and one day they decided to demonstrate on campus and “unban” themselves. As staff members we were required to show up and support our students, while making sure that their demonstration stayed on campus and remained peaceful. It was, until the police invaded the campus and started the violence. They used tear gas and rubber bullets against the students and the staff.

    The tear gas was not aimed at any individual, nor were the rubber bullets and their actions were widely condemned. The only difference was that we had press blackouts and were without the benefit of the internet or YouTube. The action of the police on your campus was, on one hand, the same as the police under apartheid and on the other, worse. To individually target specific students and cause them pain is worse than random mass tear gassing.

    These students are protesting an apartheid of power and money that exists in the world today because of the greed of individuals who have brought the world to its financial knees and have not been brought to book. They are protesting because they need to have hope that they can build futures for themselves.

    How are you different from the people that were madly hanging on to power in the apartheid era of South Africa?

  41. musings1776 says:

    Reblogged this on musings1776 and commented:
    Was this necessary? Personally, I feel as though the freedoms I cherish and fight for as an officer in the U.S. Army were completely disregarded. Seeing fellow Americans treated this way is both disturbing and discouraging.

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