Chancellor Katehi’s press conference summary
Today, on Saturday Nov 19, 2011 at 4pm Chancellor Katehi together with the UCD police chief and two unnamed people gave a small press conference in the Surge II building. A growing group of students appeared outside wanting their voices be heard (thanks to Jonathan Eisen’s twitter feeds). The actual press conference was shown on Ustream via California Aggie press (thank you for the link).
Here is a quick summary of information obtained from the live feed provided by AggiePress:
First, Chancellor Katehi reiterated her two earlier responses strongly focusing on safety concerns (without elaborating what these were) and the presence of non-UCD people on campus ground. She was not able to relay how many people were from outside UCD and how many were UCD affiliated. Her primary focus was on allowing students to voice their opinions, as guaranteed by the 1st Amendment, as long as they abide by university rules. One rule states (which is cross UC, not just UCD) that no one can camp on university grounds. She showed willingness to discuss the desire of students to do so anyway.
With regards to the police being involved in removing the encampment, she claims that their primary intention was focused on removing tents (ergo personal property) and not to disperse the crowd. According to Katehi, as police were removing the tents, they were encircled by people (up to 200 estimated) and the police officers wanted to leave the scene which led to the incident. She does not know what happened at the incident and she did not speculate, but she did say that a Task Force has been formed and that their findings are due in 90 days. If criminal acts were committed, appropriate action will be taken, including criminally charging those who committed a crime.
Note: questions time was chaotic and stopped earlier than anticipated.
Upon questions regarding the open letter of prof. Brown (as posted on this blog earlier), she does not see any reason to step down. She claimed to have followed institutional protocol. She also claimed to have read some of these letters, but did not specifically comment on them.
The police chief responded to questions regarding the use of pepper spray and the presence of riot gear. For the latter, no riot gear was used by the police, but the helmets and vests were said to be only protective gear against objects that might be thrown at them. For the former, she does not know the specifics of the incident with the pepper spray and they are reviewing what actually happened, but stated that all police protocols were followed and no mistakes were made.
Surprisingly, no one asked why the police had to use pepper spray. If their purpose was to get out of the circle of students, why did they have to use pepper spray on the students sitting on the floor in the middle of the circle? If they wanted to get out, couldn’t they walk to any side of the circle and ask clearly more responsive students to make way? The reasons for the arrests made were also left unaddressed.
The press conference was called to an end when students tried to enter the room. Chancellor Katehi was supposed to leave with the people in control of the events, but they had trouble finding her. The mac computer that created the live feed was taken away.
Surely there is more to come, which likely includes new protests on the Quad on Monday, bringing new police presence with its associated costs. One of the proposed reasons to take down the encampment was to limit costs, as the university is cash strapped.
Note: the Academic Senate is holding an emergency meeting this upcoming Monday.
The Council of UC Faculty Associations condemns police violence against non-violent protesters (link)
Link to video of press conference on CBS Sacramento.