The University of California at Davis has launched an investigation of the actions of the campus police officer who on Friday pepper-sprayed students who were camping out on the campus in support of the Occupy Wall Street protest.
A video shows the police officer pepper-spraying student protesters went viral on YouTube Saturday. The protesters are seen sitting on the UC Davis campus with bowed heads and linked arms. Protesters identified the police officer who pepper-sprayed them as Lt. John Pike.
After watching the video, Linda P.B. Katehi, the UC Davis chancellor who instigated the police action against the students, said the images were "chilling." She has created a task force to investigate the matter. "The use of the 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 in a message posted on the school's Web site on Saturday.
The video images that were widely distributed online prompted instant anger among faculty and students, with the university's Faculty Association saying in a letter that Katehi should resign. "The chancellor's role is to enable open and free inquiry, not to suppress it," it said.
At a news conference Saturday, Katehi said, "What the video shows is sad and really very inappropriate."
Katehi said the events surrounding the protest had been hard on her personally, but she has no plans to resign, stating: "I do not think that I have violated the policies of the institution. I have worked personally very hard to make this campus a safe campus for all."
After watching the video, Charles J. Kelly, a former Baltimore Police Department lieutenant, said he observed at least two cases of "active resistance" from protesters. In one instance, a woman pulls her arm back from an officer. In the second instance, a protester curls into a ball. Each of those actions could have warranted more force, including baton strikes and pressure-point techniques. "What I'm looking at is fairly standard police procedure," said Kelly.