Archive for November 20, 2011

News at the speed of Twitter by Keith Bradnam

November 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Keith Bradnam, a project scientist in Ian Korf’s lab at UC Davis, wrote a great article on his blog. In his article he describes how the pepper spray events of last Friday chronologically unfolded and went viral.

His words in the last paragraph hit the mark:

I love UC Davis and while I’m saddened by what has happened, I’m profoundly proud of the behavior of the protestors throughout. I hope that lessons are learned from the events of the last few days and that peaceful, non-violent protest will remain a viable option to all of those at UC Davis who want to have their voices heard.

Categories: Recent News, UC Davis

AggieTV’s exclusive interview with Chancellor Katehi

November 20, 2011 1 comment
Categories: Recent News, UC Davis

Fact or rumour about “Walk of Shame” student journalist

November 20, 2011 Leave a comment

This rumour above has been circulating twitter today. At this point it is not certain this rumour is actually based on facts. More to come. For now, another video of the “Walk of Shame” of Chancellor Katehi last night leaving Surge II building after the press conference.


Categories: Recent News, UC Davis

UC Davis Academic Senate statement on Pepper Spray Friday + much more

November 20, 2011 1 comment

On the blog of the UC Davis professor Jonathan Eisen is the email send out by the UC Davis Academic Senate making  the following statement:

Dear Colleagues,

The Executive Council of the Davis Division of the Academic Senate issues the following statement:

“The Executive Council, on behalf of the Davis Division of the Academic Senate, strongly supports the right of all campus citizens to assemble and protest peacefully. It is totally unacceptable to use excessive force against peaceful protesters. The UC Davis administration must assume full accountability for the actions taken on Friday, November 18, 2011.  We must assure a campus environment that welcomes diverse perspectives and fosters freedom of expression. We are in full support of an investigation into recent events and a public accounting of all findings.”

The Executive Council also approved the formation of a Special Committee to investigate in a thorough and timely manner the events leading to the use of force on Friday, November 18, 2011.

Finally, I am also calling a Special Meeting of the Representative Assembly.

Linda Bisson
Linda F. Bisson,Chair, Davis Division of the Academic SenateProfessor, Department of Viticulture and EnologyUniversity of California, DavisDavis   CA  95616

Here is a letter to Chancellor Katehi from Art Shaprio from the Entomology Department at UC Davis on the blog of Jonathan Eisen.

There are also various reactions and letter to the editor of The Sacremento Bee such as here and here.

Update 2:
A special meeting by the Graduate Student Association (GSA) will be held this Tuesday (Nov 22).

Update 3:
Here is a letter from professor Artyom Kopp to Chancellor Katehi asking for personal apologies to those affected by Pepper Spray Friday. Also, the Davis Faculty Association is asking for the resignation of Chancellor Katehi.

Update 4:
Here is a letter from Jim Griesemer.

Update 5:
The Korf lab meeting scheduled for tomorrow has been cancelled allowing the lab members to join the protests at the Quad at noon. Also, here is a letter professor Phil Ward (highlighting that the most read story on the BBC website was Pepper Spray Friday) and a post-doc Jason Bell (part 2) addressed to Chancellor Katehi.

Update 6:
Here you can find 10 things you should know about Pepper Spray Friday.

Categories: Recent News, UC Davis

An Open Letter to University Presidents and Chancellors

November 20, 2011 Leave a comment

From another blog this Open Letter initiative was brought to our attention. Below you can read the entire post as is:

Please email Matthew Smith at Yale’s Philosophy Department if you wish to co-sign his excellent Open Letter. He is looking for a publication venue. His email: A link to the letter is here [PDF]. You may wish to email the link to the letter to your university adminstrators. Out thanks should go to Smith for his leadership here.

Key points:

  • We therefore call on chancellors and presidents of universities and colleges throughout the United States to declare publicly that their campuses are Safe Protest Zones, where nonviolent, public political dissent and protest will be protected by university police and will never be attacked by the university police.
  • We call on these chancellors and presidents to commit publicly to making their campuses safe locations for peaceful public assembly.
  • We call on these chancellors and presidents to institute immediately policies that reflect these commitments, and to instruct their police and security forces that they must abide by these policies.

The text of the letter follows:

Open Letter to Chancellors and Presidents of American Universities and Colleges

From Your Faculty

We have witnessed, over the past two months, police departments using significant amounts of force against individuals peacefully participating in the Occupy movement.  But during the week of November 13 – November 19, there was an astonishing escalation of the violence used by municipal police departments against non-violent protesters.

We hoped that even as politicians and municipal police violently responded to the Occupy movement, college and university campuses would remain safe locations for non-violent political dissent.  But that has not been the case.  In fact, universities and colleges appear to be using the same tactics in their interactions with unarmed, non-violent members of the university community as we have seen municipal police use against the broader Occupy movement.

In particular, we are concerned with the actions by police associated with two University of California campuses.  At UC Berkeley, police beat faculty and students who were peacefully attempting to establish an Occupy camp on Sproul Plaza.  At UC Davis, police casually pepper sprayed protesting students who were peacefully sitting with their arms linked. The message sent by university officials is clear: if you engage in non-violent political protest on the university campus, you run the risk of being assaulted by university police.

  • We condemn this and any deployment of violence by university officials against members of the university community who are non-violently expressing their political views.
  • We condemn university officials using violence or the threat of violence in order to limit political dissent to the narrow confines of print and university-sanctioned events.
  • We condemn university officials using violence and the threat of violence to prevent members of the university community from peacefully assembling.

For more than three generations, American university and college campuses have been crucial locations in which inspiring and important political activity has occurred.  From the founding of SNCC at Shaw University and the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley in the 1960’s, to the divestment movements across American college campuses in the 1980s, to the establishment of student labor alliances in the 1990’s, American college campuses have pulsed with hopeful and positive forms of dissent and visions of alternatives.  This amazing tradition is being threatened by the use of violence by university officials against their own students and faculty who are acting within this tradition.

  • We therefore call on chancellors and presidents of universities and colleges throughout the United States to declare publicly that their campuses are Safe Protest Zones, where nonviolent, public political dissent and protest will be protected by university police and will never be attacked by the university police.
  • We call on these chancellors and presidents to commit publicly to making their campuses safe locations for peaceful public assembly.
  • We call on these chancellors and presidents to institute immediately policies that reflect these commitments, and to instruct their police and security forces that they must abide by these policies.

We believe that this action is necessary for the protection of one of the principal virtues of our higher education system, namely that it is an environment that cultivates an active and engaged political imagination.  We call on the leaders of America’s universities and colleges to stand with us.

Categories: Recent News, UC Davis

“Why I walked Chancellor Katehi out of Surge II tonight”

November 20, 2011 2 comments

As posted as an open letter on Facebook. A very nice and humble piece from one person’s perspective.

by Kristin Stoneking on Sunday, 20 November 2011 at 01:46

At 5pm, as my family and I left Davis so that I could attend the American Academy of Religion annual meetings in San Francisco, I received a call from Assistant Vice Chancellor Griselda Castro informing me that she, Chancellor Katehi and others were trapped inside Surge II.  She asked if I could mediate between students and administration.  I was reluctant; I had already missed a piece of the meetings due to commitments in Davis and didn’t want to miss any more.  I called a student (intentionally not named here) and learned that students were surrounding the building but had committed to a peaceful, silent exit for those inside and had created a clear walkway to the street.  We turned the car around and headed back to Davis.

When I arrived, there was a walkway out of the building set up, lined on both sides by about 300 students. The students were organized and peaceful. I was cleared to enter the building along with a student who is a part of CA House and has been part of the Occupy movement on campus since the beginning.  He, too, was reluctant, but not because he had somewhere else to be.  For any student to act as a spokesperson or leader is inconsistent with the ethos the Occupy movement.  He entered as an individual seeking peace and resolution, not as a representative of the students, and was clear that he had called for and would continue to call for Chancellor Katehi’s resignation.

Once inside, and through over an hour of conversation, we learned the following:

  • The Chancellor had made a commitment that police would not be called in this situation
  • Though the message had been received inside the building that students were offering a peaceful exit, there was a concern that not everyone would hold to this commitment
  • The Chancellor had committed to talk with students personally and respond to concerns at the rally on Monday on the quad
  • The student assistants to the Chancellor had organized another forum on Tuesday for the Chancellor to dialogue directly with students

What we felt couldn’t be compromised on was the students’ desire to see and be seen by the Chancellor.  Any exit without face to face contact was unacceptable.  She was willing to do this. We reached agreement that the students would move to one side of the walkway and sit down as a show of commitment to nonviolence.

Before we left, the Chancellor was asked to view a video of the student who was with me being pepper sprayed. She immediately agreed.  Then, he and I witnessed her witnessing eight minutes of the violence that occurred Friday.  Like a recurring nightmare, the horrific scene and the cries of “You don’t have to do this!” and students choking and screaming rolled again.  The student and I then left the building and using the human mike, students were informed that a request had been made that they move to one side and sit down so that the Chancellor could exit.  They immediately complied, though I believe she could have left peacefully even without this concession.

I returned to the building and walked with the Chancellor down the human walkway to her car.  Students remained silent and seated the entire way.

What was clear to me was that once again, the students’ willingness to show restraint kept us from spiraling into a cycle of violence upon violence.  There was no credible threat to the Chancellor, only a perceived one.  The situation was not hostile.  And what was also clear to me is that whether they admit it or not, the administrators that were inside the building are afraid.  And exhausted.  And human.  And the suffering that has been inflicted is real.  The pain present as the three of us watched the video of students being pepper sprayed was palpable.  A society is only truly free when all persons take responsibility for their actions; it is only upon taking responsibility that healing can come.

Why did I walk the Chancellor to her car?  Because I believe in the humanity of all persons.  Because I believe that people should be assisted when they are afraid.  Because I believe that in showing compassion we embrace a nonviolent way of life that emanates to those whom we refuse to see as enemies and in turn leads to the change that we all seek.  I am well aware that my actions were looked on with suspicion by some tonight, but I trust that those seeking a nonviolent solution will know that “just means lead to just ends” and my actions offered dignity not harm.

The Chancellor was not trapped in Surge II tonight, but, in a larger sense, we are all in danger of being trapped.  We are trapped when we assent to a culture that for decades, and particularly since 9/11, has allowed law enforcement to have more and more power which has moved us into an era of hypercriminalization. We are trapped when we envision no path to reconciliation.   And we are trapped when we forget our own power.  The students at UC Davis are to be commended for resisting that entrapment, using their own power nonviolently.  I pray that the Chancellor will remember her own considerable power in making change on our campus, and in seeking healing and reconciliation.

Here is a posting from Jonathan Eisen, a UCD faculty, reporting on the events outside the Surge II building.

Categories: Recent News, UC Davis

Pepper spraying UC Davis police officers put on leave

November 20, 2011 1 comment

Two UC Davis police officers who were involved in the use of pepper spray on students at the OccupyUCDavis protest last Friday have been put on administrative leave pending an internal investigation, according to The Guardian, BBC and various other media sources.

Part of the Guardian article are some quotes from Charles Kelly, the person who wrote the manual on how to use pepper spray:

Charles J. Kelly, a former Baltimore Police Department lieutenant who wrote the department’s use of force guidelines, said pepper spray is a “compliance tool” that can be used on subjects who do not resist, and is preferable to simply lifting protesters.

“When you start picking up human bodies, you risk hurting them,” Kelly said. “Bodies don’t have handles on them.”

Using pepper spray causes less harm than lifting protesters seems a little out of touch with the reality of what happened last Friday. First, the pepper spray was used on these students, for which nine had to be treated on the scene and two were taken to the hospital for further treatment for coughing up blood. This strongly indicates that the use of pepper spray does cause harm. Following the pepper spray, the students were still manually lifted, which would suggest that the use of pepper spray is redundant.

Additional contradiction comes from the Press Conference yesterday (Sat, Nov 19th) where both the Chancellor and the UCD police chief said that the pepper spray was used because the police officers felt threatened because they were encircled by students and wanted to get out of the situation. This warranted the use of force on students sitting in the center of the circle as a mean to get out of the circle. The primary objective of the police was not to arrest students, but to remove the tents, which they succeeded at.

Furthermore, the President of the University of California Mark Yudof voiced his dislike of the events of last Friday:

I am appalled by images of University of California students being doused with pepper spray and jabbed with police batons on our campuses.

I intend to do everything in my power as President of this university to protect the rights of our students, faculty and staff to engage in non-violent protest.

Chancellors at the UC Davis and UC Berkeley campuses already have initiated reviews of incidents that occurred on their campuses. I applaud this rapid response and eagerly await the results.

The University of California, however, is a single university with 10 campuses, and the incidents in recent days cry out for a systemwide response.

Therefore I will be taking immediate steps to set that response in motion.
I intend to convene all 10 chancellors, either in person or by telephone, to engage in a full and unfettered discussion about how to ensure proportional law enforcement response to non-violent protest.

To that end, I will be asking the chancellors to forward to me at once all relevant protocols and policies already in place on their individual campuses, as well as those that apply to the engagement of non-campus police agencies through mutual aid agreements.

Further, I already have taken steps to assemble experts and stakeholders to conduct a thorough, far-reaching and urgent assessment of campus police procedures involving use of force, including post-incident review processes.

My intention is not to micromanage our campus police forces. The sworn officers who serve on our campuses are professionals dedicated to the protection of the UC community.

Nor do I wish to micromanage the chancellors. They are the leaders of our campuses and they have my full trust and confidence.

Nonetheless, the recent incidents make clear the time has come to take strong action to recommit to the ideal of peaceful protest.

As I have said before, free speech is part of the DNA of this university, and non-violent protest has long been central to our history. It is a value we must protect with vigilance. I implore students who wish to demonstrate to do so in a peaceful and lawful fashion. I expect campus authorities to honor that right.

Finally, Chancellor Katehi said the following: “I take full responsibility for the incident.”

We will see what happens next, but it seems very likely new protests will erupt tomorrow (Monday, Nov 21st) (Facebook link) and this story will not calm down for the next several days. Also, UC, UC Davis and UCD police can anticipate lawsuits based on previous rulings of a similar case.

Categories: Recent News, UC Davis