On Friday, a group of students at the University of California, Davis, who are a part of he Occupy Wall Street movement on campus, became the latest victims of alleged police brutality. The police actions against peaceful protesters were captured on video, and show the students seated on the ground as a UC Davis police officer holds up a canister of pepper spray, showing it off to the crowd of students gathered, before spraying the students in a thick, heavy mist.
The incident was witnessed by many, including students and professors. Several were hospitalized, and one woman was treated for chemical burns.
A longer version of the video shows students seated across a walkway surrounded by more than a dozen UC Davis cops donning riot gear and batons. Many other students are seen standing along the edges of the scene, watching as the attack unfolded and protesting. One of the police comes over to the line of seated students asks a question, to which the student replies "We're sitting here." The cop then leaves and goes back with the other officers, even turning his back on the students, suggesting no fear that they may retaliate. A cop talks on his radio for awhile, and then a cop goes back to the students. A student asks:
"You're gonna shoot me for sitting here? You're shooting us for sitting here?"
About a minute later, the officer is seen shaking the pepper spray canister as the crowds of students start chanting "Don't shoot your children!" The officer began spraying the group of seated students, as horrified onlookers screamed "Don't do it! Don't you do it!"
The officer who pepper sprayed the students has been identified as UC Davis Police Lt. John Pike. His name and phone number was posted on Twitter, and his school voicemail box eventually filled to capacity as streams of angry people from across the country called to voice their displeasure with his actions.
On Friday, UC Davis chancellor Linda P. B. Katehi released a statement which read:
"We deeply regret that many of the protestors today chose not to work with our campus staff and police to remove the encampment as requested. We are even more saddened by the events that subsequently transpired to facilitate their removal."
Nathan Brown, an English professor at UC Davis, wrote an open letter to Katehi calling for her resignation. He witnessed the attack, and described it, writing:
"Police used batons to try to push the students apart. Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood."
"You are responsible for it because this is what happens when UC Chancellors order police onto our campuses to disperse peaceful protesters through the use of force: students get hurt."