Wednesday, November 23, 2011

More questions from UC Davis

Prior to this week, the University of California-Davis was one of the out-of-the-spotlight but bright stars of the UC system. Now, it -- and more especially its chancellor -- are under an intense media focus after a university police officer pepper sprayed a group of student protesters.

The chancellor has met with students; but as the Associated Press reports, the students continue to doubt the official story
Video footage of Lt. John Pike and another officer casually spraying an orange cloud at the protesters as they sat peacefully on the ground began circulating online Friday night. Students gathered on campus Tuesday for the second time in as many days to condemn the violence. They also urged university officials to require police to attend sensitivity training.
Chancellor Linda Katehi, who has faced criticism from students, faculty and staff in recent days, told some 1,000 students gathered in an auditorium that she asked police to remove tents from the university's quad but did not direct them to forcibly remove the demonstrators.
"I explicitly directed the chief of police that violence should be avoided at all costs," she said. "It was the absolute last thing I ever wanted to happen."
She stressed that students have a right to demonstrate peacefully.
"Because encampments have long been prohibited by UC policy, I directed police only to take down the tents," she said. "My instructions were for no arrests and no police force."
Yet not all students who attended the town hall in a performing arts complex were satisfied with the response from Katehi.
Left unanswered, therefore, is who -- if it was not Dr. Katehi -- approved the use of the pepper spray? And could the lieutenant have acted on his own?

In a separate report, the Associated Press also examines the checkered record of Lt. Pike
The university has honored Pike twice for exceptional police work, including a 2006 incident in which he tackled a scissors-wielding hospital patient who was threatening other officers.
But an alleged antigay slur by Pike also figured in a racial and sexual discrimination lawsuit that a former police officer filed against the department, which ended in a $240,000 settlement in 2008.
Officer Calvin Chang's 2003 discrimination complaint against the university's police chief and the UC Board of Regents claimed that he had been systematically marginalized as the result of antigay and racist attitudes on the force. He specifically claimed that Pike had described him using an antigay epithet.
Pike did not immediately return a message left Tuesday at a home address listed in Roseville (Placer County).
Records show Pike joined the Marines in November 1989, and by the time he left, he had been promoted to sergeant.
Meanwhile, the students have set up a new encampment on campus. And if you were to ask me, then I'd tell you that it is the safest place in all of North America.


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