Yesterday, protests on the UC Davis campus took a shocking, horrible turn when police brutally pepper-sprayed a group of students who were not issuing threats, brandishing weapons, or even gesticulating with menace. Nope, they were just sitting on the ground.
The campus rally was held in response to tuition hikes and the police brutality towards UC Berkeley protesters on Tuesday. It was apparently endorsed by the school's faculty (in fact, an assistant professor even organized it), but Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi ordered police to clear protesters off the quad on Friday. When the rallying students peacefully sat on the ground and linked arms, the police pepper-sprayed them.
But it didn't stop there. According to Assistant Professor Nathan Brown's account, the cops then used their batons to push students apart and even forced open the mouths of some of the protesters, pepper-spraying directly down their throats. One student was reportedly coughing up blood forty-five minutes after the fact.
Brown is calling for Katehi's resignation in an open letter. He writes:
"The fact is: the administration of UC campuses systematically uses police brutality to terrorize students and faculty, to crush political dissent on our campuses, and to suppress free speech and peaceful assembly … You are responsible for the police violence directed against students on the UC Davis quad on November 18, 2011. As I said, I am writing to hold you responsible and to demand your immediate resignation on these grounds."
A chancellor who (indirectly) harms rather than protects her students is surely doing a terrible job, and the cops' total lack of reservations about pepper-spraying peaceful protesters is disturbing to say the least. But if you slow down the video, I think you can spot one of the students move his foot menacingly. So, you know, grave threat right there.