UC Davis Report Concludes: the Pepper-Spraying Never Should Have Happened

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By Michael Risher, Staff Attorney (at ACLU of Northern California) April 11, 2012 http://www.aclunc.org/issues/freedom_of_press_and_speech/uc_davis_report_concludes_the_pepper-spraying_never_should_have_happened.shtml

The long-awaited report on the infamous incident of UC Davis police pepper-spraying non-violent, seated student protesters has been released. It concludes what we all know from watching the shocking videos: “The pepperspraying incident that took place on November 18, 2011 should and could have been prevented.” That’s the opening to the report, which outlines the various ways that Chancellor Katehi, other Administration officials, and the UC Davis Police Department completely mismanaged the situation at every level.

The ACLU of Northern California notes the following significant findings in the report:

  • “The decision to use pepper spray was not supported by objective evidence and was not authorized by policy.”
  • The report makes clear that the Administration and campus police refused to recognize the protest as the non-violent, student-led demonstration that it was, instead assuming it was led by non-students, despite clear evidence from a high level administrator to the contrary, and that they made this incorrect assumption because the students were affiliated with the Occupy Movement
  • The UC Police Department had no clear legal basis for removing tents in the first place.
  • If Chancellor Katehi had a clear vision that police should not use force, she failed to clearly communicate that.
  • Chief Spicuzza exhibited a significant lack of leadership, failing to communicate her tactical concerns about Chancellor Katehi’s proposed response, and not controlling officers under her command.
  • “Lieutenant Pike’s use of force in pepper spraying seated protesters was objectively unreasonable.”
  • Kroll identified no “objective evidence of any attempt by a protester to use violence.”
  • The MK- 9 pepper spray used on the students was not even approved for use by the U.C. Police Department.
  • California laws that create a veil of secrecy over reports relating to police misconduct (the same laws that delayed the release of this report for a month) need to be changed to allow transparency and public oversight and to promote police accountability.

Taken as a whole, the report also makes clear that:

The University acted based on fear and assumptions about the Occupy movement, not on evidence or the law. The University’s response to the demonstration reflects a fundamental lack of respect for the right to protest.

While we are pleased with the light that the University has shed on this matter through this report, it left some key stones unturned (for example, the role of the UC Office of the President in protecting – or failing to protect -- the rights of non-violent protesters). The ACLU of Northern California is representing students and alumni in a lawsuit against UC Davis and individual police officers, over a series of constitutional violations against the demonstrators on November 18, and we hope to obtain more answers over the course of this litigation.

When the cost of speech is a shot of blinding, burning pepper spray in the face, speech is not free.

(Video featuring UC Davis students talking about the day they were pepper-sprayed: http://youtu.be/OmQnkQbiDeI)

Sacramento Dave's picture
Sacramento Dave
Nov. 27, 2010 9:46 am


Unfortunately for those young people they learned the hard way that there is no such thing as a police force in the U.S. that is looking out for their safety and obeying a code of justice for all. All there is and all there has been for many decade is an occupying army in police uniform that works solely for the interests of the criminal class that has usurped all aspects of societal control. That should have been evident to everyone after the coup when they murdered Kennedy and then shot the patsy in police custody to keep that conspiracy from ever reaching the trial stage.

In a small way something good will come out of that horrible pepper-spraying incident in that those student will likely recover sufficient damages so that they will be able to complete their education without the burden of being trapped in the indebted slave position of most children who don't come from wealthy families. But that is far from sufficient of what is required to get the nation as a whole into a position of lawful governance. Only completely eradicating the criminal class will accomplish that and thereby insure that all of future's children can grow up in a society that is just and which takes care of all of their basic needs.

jmacneil's picture
Mar. 6, 2012 6:24 pm

"Occupy lawyer says pepper spray report confirms police engaged in 'brutality'


April 11, 2012 - The 190-page UC Davis Pepper Spray Report released at noon Wednesday concluded that the incident shouldn't have taken place – and questions why pepper spray was used on students peacefully protesting in the student quad last November.

"The overriding conclusion can be stated briefly and explicitly. The pepper spraying incident that took place on November 18, 2011 should and could have been prevented," the report stated.

In the immediate aftermath of the UC Davis incident, University of California President Mark G. Yudof announced the appointment of former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso to chair the 12-member Task Force that released the report today.

The report blasted the breakdown in communication that occurred between Chancellor Linda Katehi, Police Chief Annette Spicuzza, and police officers throughout the pepper spray incident.

The report said Katehi failed "to express in any meaningful way her expectation that the police operation was to be sharply limited so that no use of force would be employed by police officers other than their demand that the tents be taken down."

The report also criticized UC Davis Police and Spicuzza's mishandling of the protesters, describing the "command and leadership structure" as "very dysfunctional."

"This breakdown is illustrated by the heated exchanges between the Chief and her Lieutenants as to the scope and conduct of the operation and the Chief's apparent concession that her officers will do things their own way and there is nothing she can do about it," the document stated.

The report also concluded that Lieutenant John Pike, as shown in a shocking video that became viral on the Internet, used a pepper spray canister that was bigger than those that the UC Davis Police are authorized to use on campus.

The complete report is available at : http://reynosoreport.ucdavis.edu/reynoso-report.pdf "

Sacramento Dave's picture
Sacramento Dave
Nov. 27, 2010 9:46 am

That is one strange way of making a report. The sloppiness and redundancy must be validation for a sizeable fee.

What's clear is that the type of people who are employed as police officers are not morally qualified to be so. The fact that it was a lieutenant that did the spraying indicates that the whole force would be taking their cues from someone who himself should be put in jail, so even if they hired moral young people at the beginning of their career, those new officers would become corrupted over time simply by having to serve under people who lacked the requisite intelligence and morality to perform a job of serving the law and society. And if they were such lowlifes that they would pepperspray girls who were seated and handcuffed, then they would have to be the type of people who would take advantage of any situation where they thought they could get away with it. And they could only get that type of entitlement attitude from the very top of the command structure since all command structure filters down, unlike trickle down economics, which means that the attitude of all police everywhere in the nation is one of adversary to the very people they are supposed to be sworn to protect.

The idea of having a police contingent camp with the protestors to protect them, if the police were really worried about some young girl getting raped, would seem to be the logical action to take. But, really, the police everywhere in the nation display such an aggressive attitude toward protesters of any kind that you know for sure that their methodology and coordination is linked nationally. And their pitiful excuses are always that they are acting in fear of themselves or their riotclad confederates getting hurt by the young girls and mostly skinny boys who have no protection or weapons.

What that pepperspraying action of tied-up girls should also convey to everyone is that the wrong type of people are in police uniform and that the entire police forces of the nation should be sacked and a new moral force should be raised. If there are any good cops left among that dispicable crowd then they should be given an opportunity to join the new force if they can find it in themselves to act honorably at all time in the future. Of course that would also require getting rid of the programs that make criminals out of people solely for the sake of keeping the police state gainfully employed and the prison business fully booked.

jmacneil's picture
Mar. 6, 2012 6:24 pm

Trump Is Using Racist White People To Make The Rich Richer

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