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UC Davis Professor Demands Chancellor Resign Over Pepper Spraying Of Students

by David Badash on November 19, 2011

in News,Occupy Wall Street

Post image for UC Davis Professor Demands Chancellor Resign Over Pepper Spraying Of Students

Editor’s Note 11.20.11: Please read today’s “UC Davis Pepper Spray Attack Of Students By Police: What Questions Do We Need Answered?,” and note that we have an exclusive interview with one of the UC Davis protestors which we’re working on getting up ASAP, so be sure to come back for her excellent and detailed observations, which absolutely refute what university officials have been telling the school and the media.

A UC Davis Assistant Professor is demanding the immediate resignation of the University’s Chancellor over Friday’s pepper spraying of unarmed, non-violent students who were passively sitting on the ground while in the midst of an Occupy Wall Street protest.

Watch: Shocking Video Of Police Pepper Spraying UC Davis Students

“I am a junior faculty member at UC Davis,” Professor Nathan Brown writes, in an open letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi. “I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, and I teach in the Program in Critical Theory and in Science & Technology Studies. I have a strong record of research, teaching, and service. I am currently a Board Member of the Davis Faculty Association.”

Brown adds,

“I have also taken an active role in supporting the student movement to defend public education on our campus and throughout the UC system. In a word: I am the sort of young faculty member, like many of my colleagues, this campus needs. I am an asset to the University of California at Davis.

“You are not.”

Brown’s letter continues:

I write to you and to my colleagues for three reasons:

1) to express my outrage at the police brutality which occurred against students engaged in peaceful protest on the UC Davis campus today

2) to hold you accountable for this police brutality

3) to demand your immediate resignation

Today you ordered police onto our campus to clear student protesters from the quad. These were protesters who participated in a rally speaking out against tuition increases and police brutality on UC campuses on Tuesday—a rally that I organized, and which was endorsed by the Davis Faculty Association. These students attended that rally in response to a call for solidarity from students and faculty who were bludgeoned with batons, hospitalized, and arrested at UC Berkeley last week. In the highest tradition of non-violent civil disobedience, those protesters had linked arms and held their ground in defense of tents they set up beside Sproul Hall. In a gesture of solidarity with those students and faculty, and in solidarity with the national Occupy movement, students at UC Davis set up tents on the main quad. When you ordered police outfitted with riot helmets, brandishing batons and teargas guns to remove their tents today, those students sat down on the ground in a circle and linked arms to protect them.

What happened next?

Without any provocation whatsoever, other than the bodies of these students sitting where they were on the ground, with their arms linked, police pepper-sprayed students.Students remained on the ground, now writhing in pain, with their arms linked.

What happened next?

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.

This is what happened. You are responsible for it.

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. Faculty get hurt. One of the most inspiring things (inspiring for those of us who care about students who assert their rights to free speech and peaceful assembly) about the demonstration in Berkeley on November 9 is that UC Berkeley faculty stood together with students, their arms linked together. Associate Professor of English Celeste Langan was grabbed by her hair, thrown on the ground, and arrested. Associate Professor Geoffrey O’Brien was injured by baton blows. Professor Robert Hass, former Poet Laureate of the United States, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner, was also struck with a baton. These faculty stood together with students in solidarity, and they too were beaten and arrested by the police. In writing this letter, I stand together with those faculty and with the students they supported.

One week after this happened at UC Berkeley, you ordered police to clear tents from the quad at UC Davis. When students responded in the same way—linking arms and holding their ground—police also responded in the same way: with violent force. 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. Many people know this. Many more people are learning it very quickly.

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.

(Emphasis mine.)

Brown accuses the Chancellor of hypocrisy, and closes with,

“I call for your resignation because you are unfit to do your job. You are unfit to ensure the safety of students at UC Davis. In fact: you are the primary threat to the safety of students at UC Davis. As such, I call upon you to resign immediately.”

Read the entire letter.

Professor Nathan Brown deserves an award. If he loses his job over this there will be hell to pay from America. Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi deserves to be fired, as does police Lt. John Pike.

(Image via John Aravosis)

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derrickisrude November 19, 2011 at 5:36 am

photo was taken by Louise Macabitas

HIIMBOB November 19, 2011 at 11:57 pm

Though i don't know the legalities, I'm pretty sure linking arms is a sign of aggression and the police can retaliate. Though I don't support what the police are doing, linking arms is a huge mistake.

pdxsailalumni November 20, 2011 at 2:33 am

I don't mean to antagonize, but I doubt your premise. I am only asking this because it seems ridiculous that linking arms is an act of aggression. Can you corroborate this comment?

darrylayo November 20, 2011 at 6:59 am

The day is young, but that is the silliest thing I've heard. Linking arms is a sign of *resistance* but not "aggression."

It's irresponsible to the point of dangerous to make such claims.

Isupportoccupy November 20, 2011 at 11:58 am

Yeah, because nothing says violent, dangerous aggression more than someone who can't use their arms. {rolling eyes}

These cops look for any excuse they can come up with to attack these protestors. They are getting free reign to shoot at, spray, beat…the stuff they would never ever be allowed to do on an individual basis without any consequence. This is probably the stuff some of these cops (not all, I know some very fine upstanding cops) dream of. Like hunters who shoot animals on private compounds where the animal is restrained-no difference! If I were related to or knew one of these cops, I definitely wouldn't want to be involved with that type of person anymore. That cop spraying those people had the same blase' look on his face that I do when I am watering the grass.

MX99K November 20, 2011 at 12:44 am

Prep the guillotines.

Bobi Pasquale November 20, 2011 at 5:12 pm

blog article about police brutality at occupy and demonstrations:

wyocowboy62 November 22, 2011 at 9:04 pm

i agree she needs to go now!!!!!!!!!666

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