SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Two University of California, Davis police officers involved in the pepper spraying of seated protesters were placed on administrative leave Sunday, as the school's chancellor accelerated an investigation of the incident and made plans to meet with protesters amid calls for her resignation.
UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi said she has been inundated with reaction from alumni, staff, students and faculty over the incident Friday in which a riot gear-clad officer fires pepper spray on a line of sitting demonstrators. The protesters flinch and cover their faces but remain passive with their arms interlocked as onlookers shriek and scream out for the officer to stop.
The officers placed on leave have not been identified. In a news release, the university said, "Videos taken during Friday's arrests showed that the two officers used pepper spray on peacefully seated students."
The faculty association on Saturday called for Katehi's resignation after video of the incident was circulated widely on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter on Saturday, saying in a letter there had been a "gross failure of leadership."
Katehi has resisted calls for her to quit, vowing instead to rigorously investigate the incident during which 10 protesters were arrested.
"I am deeply saddened that this happened on our campus, and as chancellor, I take full responsibility for the incident," Katehi said in a statement Sunday. "However, I pledge to take the actions needed to ensure that this does not happen again. I feel very sorry for the harm our students were subjected to and I vow to work tirelessly to make the campus a more welcoming and safe place."
Katehi also set a 30-day deadline for a task force investigating the incident to issue its report. The task force will be comprised of students, staff and faculty, Katehi said, and will be chosen this week.
She plans to meet with demonstrators Monday at their general assembly, said her spokeswoman, Claudia Morain.
The protest was held in support of the overall Occupy Wall Street movement and in solidarity with protesters at the University of California, Berkeley who were jabbed by police with batons on Nov. 9.
As the video spread online and on television of an officer blasting pepper spray into the faces of seated protesters, outrage came quickly -- followed almost as quickly by defense from police.
However, a law enforcement official who watched the clip called the use of force "fairly standard police procedure."
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."
After reviewing the video, Kelly said he observed at least two cases of "active resistance" from protesters. In one instance, a woman pulls her arm back from an officer. In the second instance, a protester curls into a ball. Each of those actions could have warranted more force, including baton strikes and pressure-point techniques.
"What I'm looking at is fairly standard police procedure," Kelly said.
Images of police actions have served to galvanize support during the Occupy Wall Street movement, from the clash between protesters and police in Oakland last month that left an Iraq War veteran with serious injuries to more recent skirmishes in New York City, San Diego, Denver and Portland, Ore.
Some of the most notorious instances went viral online, including the use of pepper spray on an 84-year-old activist in Seattle and a group of women in New York. Seattle's mayor apologized to the activist, and the New York Police Department official shown using pepper spray on the group of women lost 10 vacation days after an internal review.
In the video of the UC Davis protest, the officer, a member of the university police force, displays a bottle before spraying its contents in a sweeping motion while walking back and forth in front of the demonstrators. Most of the protesters have their heads down, but several were hit directly in the face.
Some members of a crowd gathered at the scene scream and cry out. The crowd then chants, "Shame on You," as the protesters on the ground are led away. The officers retreat minutes later with helmets on and batons drawn.
Nine students hit by pepper spray were treated at the scene, two were taken to hospitals and later released, university officials said.
UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza has said the decision to use pepper spray was made at the scene.
"The students had encircled the officers," she said Saturday. "They needed to exit. They were looking to leave but were unable to get out."
Katehi said the university is challenged by its capacity to balance freedom of expression with the need to feel safe.
"These past few days our campus has been confronted with serious questions which will challenge us for many months and years to come," Katehi said.
Link to article from Huffington Post
As large swathes of the western United States continue to wither under the effects of record-breaking drought, longstanding local concerns over water use are becoming increasingly contentious, adding to the national debate over corporate right and common good.
In recent weeks, a desert area of Southern California has seen focus suddenly turn toward a water-bottling plant owned by Nestle Waters North America, which has continued its operations despite the worsening water crisis. In an outraged action request in mid-August, the League of Conservation Voters, a prominent national lobby group, urged 50,000...
Carey L. Biron | Mint Press News 12 Sep 2014 Hits:359 California
(Reuters) - The California State Senate passed legislation on Tuesday imposing strict regulations on how law enforcement and other government agencies can use drones, a move supporters said will protect privacy and prevent warrantless surveillance.
The bill attracted bipartisan support in the Senate, passing 25-8 during the evening vote in Sacramento.
The legislation would require law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant before using an unmanned aircraft, or drone, except in emergencies such as a fire or a hostage-taking.
Other public agencies would be able to use drones, or contract for their use,...
Aaron Mendelson | Reuters 28 Aug 2014 Hits:404 California
Alarmed that fewer than one-fourth of voters are showing up for municipal elections, the Los Angeles Ethics Commission voted Thursday to recommend that the City Council look at using cash prizes to lure a greater number of people to the polls.
On a 3-0 vote, the panel said it wanted City Council President Herb Wesson's Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee to seriously consider the use of financial incentives and a random drawing during its elections, possibly as soon as next year.
Depending on the source of city funds, the idea could...
David Zahniser | Governing 17 Aug 2014 Hits:325 California
As residents of California are urged to conserve water and the state considers placing a mandatory restriction on outdoor water usage, Nestlé is trucking away undisclosed amounts of the precious resource in the form of bottled water.
The Desert Sun has an in-depth report of controversy brewing around the company’s bottling plant, which draws water from a drought-stricken area for its Arrowhead and Pure Life brand water. Because the plant is located on the Morongo Band of Mission Indians’ reservation, it’s exempt from oversight by local water agencies and is able to keep...
Lindsay Abrams | Salon 03 Aug 2014 Hits:829 California
Jacque DelRio interviews Chris Silva (brother of David Silva) and the family attorney David Khon on PDA Radio on Saturday 6/21 at 3pm EST.
One year after the death of David Sal Silva, who was beaten by police outside a Bakersfield hospital, family, friends, and supporters gathered near Kern County Superior Court to commemorate his life and to put a spotlight on police brutality in the community.
Protesters greeted rush hour traffic with signs demanding accountability for police misconduct and exposed the names of the officers that were involved in Silva’s death.
Alfred Camacho | New America Media 27 May 2014 Hits:391 California
This is the story of my attempts to speak publicly about my friendship with Todd Ashker, a reputed “leader” of the hunger strike in California’s prisons. Since the latest hunger strike began on July 8, the California authorities have targeted Ashker for special attention, placing articles, editorials and op-eds in the California Press that paint him as some kind of neo-Nazi devil. The evidence they give for this portrayal is entirely from 1991 and before.
I know the Todd Ashker of 2013. For some years, I have corresponded with him and...
Denis O'Hearn | LA Progressive 25 Aug 2013 Hits:836 California
“It was like a dream. From the Rules Committee committing to end the packing of endorsement caucuses by elected officials, to our anti-fracking resolution coming out of committee stronger than when it went in and then passing on the consent calendar, to the sold-out PDA luncheon and the overwhelming win by RL Miller in the Environmental Caucus, PDA and other progressives hurried from win to win pinching ourselves to see if it was real.”
As Dorothy Reik, PDA Santa Monica Mountains Chapter Leader so aptly put above, PDA was again what...
Dr. Bill Honigman, PDA California State Co-Coordinator 16 Apr 2013 Hits:1036 California
California became the fifth and largest state this week to win federal approval for a new plan aimed at improving care for almost a half-million of the state’s most vulnerable patients.
Called Cal MediConnect, the new three-year demonstration program initially will enable the eight counties to pool funding and resources for so-called “dual-eligibles,” lower-income people who qualify both for federal Medicare and the federal-state Medi-Cal program for the poor (California’s name for Medicaid).
In announcing the program Wednesday in a teleconference from Sacramento, California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley, said...
Viji Sundaram and Paul Kleyman | New America Media 30 Mar 2013 Hits:929 California
New tactics and hands-on organizing help California Calls redraw the Golden State's political map.
Progressives who want a path to a political future where an emerging electorate is bypassing the budget battles now afflicting Congress and where decades of damage wrought by right-wingers is slowly being repaired, should look to California. There, a historic coalition of local organizers and labor unions have been remaking the landscape since 2010 by engaging “overlooked” voters.
For much of the past decade, California had terrible state budget deficits, a legislature...
Steven Rosenfeld | AlterNet 01 Mar 2013 Hits:666 California
For the 8th year in a row, healthcare reform activists from all over the state gathered in Sacramento and Los Angeles to support the annual CaHPSA Lobby Day March and Rally. Health professional students from college campuses all over California come to Sacramento every winter to lobby their legislative representatives for a single payer healthcare system.
Nurses, doctors, and activists started the day by marching into the California Association of Health Plans, and serving them with an Eviction Notice, demanding they remove themselves from...
Campaign for a Healthy California 16 Feb 2013 Hits:640 California
From 2008 to 2011, metals stolen for resale to recyclers rose 81 percent nationwide.
The thieves strike in the middle of the night and work fast, in pairs or teams. They can make an entire neighborhood go dark in minutes. They screw open the street light maintenance boxes, find the copper wires and cut. Zip, zip.
While police nab copper thieves in the act, they can’t be everywhere. Come nighttime, some streets are as black as caves. Even if thieves stopped today, utility crews would need up...
Evelyn Nieves | AlterNet 06 Feb 2013 Hits:758 California
As a lawsuit was filed to stop unregulated fracking in California, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, claimed that fracking causes no environmental harm in the state.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a rapidly spreading, environmentally destructive new method of oil and gas extraction that is drawing growing opposition throughout the state by environmentalists, fishermen, tribal members, family farmers and...
Dan Bacher | IndyBay Media 01 Feb 2013 Hits:983 California
Henry Vandermeir, who cashed in a successful career writing computer books so he could spend much of the past 15 years as a political activist, was elected chairman of the Democratic Party of Orange County on Monday night by the county party’s governing Central Committee.
Vandermeir, who bested gay activist Jeff LeTourneau in a 36-21 vote, replaces Santa Ana attorney Frank Barbaro, who stepped down after leading the county party for the past 12 years.
“I am going to have fun beating Republicans,” Vandermeir told Central Committee members.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER 16 Jan 2013 Hits:914 California
Dr Ami Bera, a Los Angeles-born physician son of Indian immigrants, has increased his lead in the race for California's 7th Congressional district bringing him a step closer to making history.
If he wins, Bera will only be the third Indian-American elected to the US House of Representatives after Dalip Singh Saund in 1952 and current Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal in 2004.
Running for the second time the seat around Sacramento, Bera was ahead by a razor-thin 184 votes against Republican incumbent Dan Lungren, with 88,406...
Arun Kumar | Daily News 12 Nov 2012 Hits:1135 California
The shameless spectacle of billionaires drowning the airwaves should not numb us to the consequences of what is at stake if the super rich succeed in buying our elections.
While most of the national focus is on the Presidential race and some high profile Senate elections, the less profiled California ballot measures provide a disturbing portrait of what of a clearly broken system.
California Propositions 32 and 33 in particular and the onslaught of secretive political action committees that hide the names of their rich sponsors, are just...
Rose Ann DeMoro | Common Dreams 25 Oct 2012 Hits:1311 California
Prop. 30 - Tax Increases for Education, Public Safety
Recommended vote: Yes
This measure would mean an increase in fair funding for education, while its defeat would send California deeper into…
The September 29, 2012 opening of the Green Music Center (GMC) at Sonoma State University (SSU) was nothing less than a grand celebration of wealth and privilege. Beaded dresses, tuxedos,…
The 2010 Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United trampled on America's founding principles, swamped our democracy in corporate cash and needs to be overturned," said Brad Newsham, the San Francisco…
High gasoline prices have become a political wild card in California, where several tight races are pivotal to Democrats’ slim hopes of winning back control of the House
Hoping to build a larger coalition from the ranks of the Democratic Party, about 22 members of the Progressive Democrats of the Santa Monica Mountains (PDSMM) gathered on…
LOS ANGELES — One year after federal law enforcement officials began cracking down on California’s medical marijuana industry with a series of high-profile arrests around the state, they finally…
Two weeks ago, we got word that Republican Vice-Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan would be in Fresno September 8 for a campaign fundraising dinner. The only details we had were that…
LOS ANGELES — Sebastian Flores walked out of Al Salam Pollería with a free bag of white-feathered chicken heads.
Mr. Flores, 26, an immigrant and a regular customer of Al Salam,…
Along Broadway here, in the heart of Chinatown, immigrants crowd around fruit and vegetable shops, asking prices in Mandarin and Cantonese. Men hawk huge red grapes from a…
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