UC Davis placed Police Chief Annette Spicuzza on administrative leave Monday in the wake of controversy over the pepper-spraying of student protesters last week by campus police officers.
The move by UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi came less than a day after she put two UC Davis police officers on leave.
“as I have gathered more information about the events that took place on our Quad on Friday, it has become clear to me that this is a necessary step toward restoring trust on our campus,” Katehi said in a statement.
Spicuzza had initially defended the police action, telling reporters Saturday, “The students had encircled the officers. They needed to exit. They were looking to leave but were unable to get out.”
Katehi has resisted calls by some UC Davis faculty members for her to resign.
Katahi’s words, “As I gathered more information…” are probably code for “I’m doing this in hopes that I don’t lose my job.” The President of the California state university system has made a strong statement about the events at U.C. Davis.
The president of the University of California system said he was “appalled” at images of protesters being doused with pepper spray and plans an assessment of law enforcement procedures on all 10 campuses, as the police chief and two officers were placed on administrative leave.
“Free speech is part of the DNA of this university, and non-violent protest has long been central to our history,” UC President Mark G. Yudof said in a statement Sunday in response to the spraying of students sitting passively at UC Davis. “It is a value we must protect with vigilance.”
Yudof said it was not his intention to “micromanage our campus police forces,” but he said all 10 chancellors would convene soon for a discussion “about how to ensure proportional law enforcement response to non-violent protest.”
Protesters have planned a rally on the UC Davis campus today at noon Pacific time. Let’s hope the campus police leave their pepper spray and their tasers behind and act as if they respect the U.S. Constitution for a change.