Late last night, I got an email from a Frisky reader studying at the University of California at Davis. She was writing to bring to my attention an incident that had occurred on campus in which police officers pepper sprayed, at close range, students involved in demonstration in support of Occupy Wall Street. Having followed (and been involved in) OWS, I already knew about the incident, but was moved by the reader’s email, which was filled with anger and sadness at what had happened at her school. As you can see in the video above, the students were seated and had linked arms, a passive indicator of peaceful civil disobedience. They were then systematically sprayed in the eyes and, according to reports, into their mouths. A few were hospitalized; hours later, some were still coughing up blood.
The video highlights one officer in particular, Lt. John Pike, who, along with a fellow officer, has since been suspended without pay. Police Chief Annette Spicuzza has been placed on administrative leave and many — including both students and staff — are calling for UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi’s resignation. It was Katehi, after all, who asked police in riot gear to break up the peaceful on-campus protest rather than meet with students to work out a solution to whatever “problem” she had with their right to peaceful assembly.
Saturday night, shortly after Katehi gave a mealy-mouthed press conference about the violent incident, students assembled outside of the building on campus and waited for Katehi to leave. She delayed her departure by three hours, concerned about “the mob scene” that would await her. When she eventually did leave, the students greeted her with complete and total silence in an incredibly powerful display of peace in the face of injustice. Call it Katehi’s Walk of Shame. You can watch both videos above.
Regardless of what you think of the view of these student protestors and protestors around the country, this kind of violence, especially against our own citizens who are peacefully exercising their civic duty, is utterly Un-American. It cannot be allowed to continue.