Hundreds of students and faculty members at UC Davis gathered Monday in the campus quad to protest the use of pepper spray on students by university police last week.
The police on Friday sprayed a group of students who were sitting down in a peaceful protest as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Eleven students were treated for the effects of pepper spray, including two who were treated at a hospital.
Since then, two campus police officers and UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza have been placed on leave. UC officials are investigating the incident.
Some students Monday carried signs saying, “My voice is stronger than your pepper spray,” and there were calls for the ouster of UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi. She was expected to appear at the rally to speak about the incident.
A group of students who were pepper-sprayed and arrested Friday spoke to the crowd from a small stage, and were greeted by cheers of support as well as the chant, “Whose university is it? Our university!”
Geoffrey Wildanger, 23, a graduate student in art history from Los Altos, said, “Three days ago, I was pepper sprayed. It hurt. It hurt a lot, but you know that already. What happened on Friday is not exceptional. Police brutality may not be the most common occurrence on UC Davis but it happens every day to poor people, women and people of color.”
David Buscho, 22, said he and his fellow protesters posed no threat to officers but were pepper-sprayed nonetheless. “We were just kids sitting down in a circle singing. Someone yelled pepper spray, and I closed my eyes, and at that point I entered a world of pain.”
He urged students to “not choose a path of violence. I want take back our university brick by brick. But we’ll will do it with dignity.”