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Saturday, June 10, 2023

Staff Editorial

Pepper-spraying campus police should be fired

On Friday, The University of California-Davis sent the message to university students across the nation that if they want to peaceably assemble on their college campuses, they might have to run the risk of being pepper sprayed.

After being asked to remove their tents from the UC Davis Quad on Friday, members of Occupy UC Davis were peaceably protesting when UC Davis Police Lt. John Pike decided to pepper spray a group of seated students who had linked arms across a sidewalk.

“The students had encircled the officers,” UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza told the Los Angeles Times. “They needed to exit. They were looking to leave, but were unable to get out.”

However, a video of the incident shows that the police officers were hardly immobilized by the group of students. The video shows Pike shake a can of pepper spray inside the ring of students, easily step over the group and then spray several of them in the face. The mobility of Pike shows that he was hardly trapped.

According to university Spokeswoman Claudia Morain, two of the officers involved in the incident have been put on administrative leave, but that is not enough.

All of the officers involved should be promptly fired by the university; campus police are supposed to protect students, not assault them.

Furthermore, how can the UC Davis Police protect the students, faculty and staff of their campus without their respect and trust? The only way of restoring that trust is for the officers involved in the incident to be removed from their duties and for members of Occupy UC Davis to be allowed to go back to their non-violent protesting without the fear of being assaulted.

UC Davis Chancellor Linda PB Kaheti said in a press conference on Saturday that the intention of the police force was not to disperse the rally, but to remove the tents and equipment used by students. Kaheti also said she is forming a task force of faculty, students and staff to review the situation.

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