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Occupy Davis: Protesters told to remove tents; 10 are arrested

In this image made from video, a police officer uses pepper spray as he walks down a line of Occupy demonstrators sitting on the ground at the University of California, Davis on Friday, Nov. 18, 2011. The video - posted on YouTube - was shot Friday as police moved in on more than a dozen tents erected on campus and arrested 10 people, nine of them students.
In this image made from video, a police officer uses pepper spray as he walks down a line of Occupy demonstrators sitting on the ground at the University of California, Davis on Friday, Nov. 18, 2011. The video - posted on YouTube - was shot Friday as police moved in on more than a dozen tents erected on campus and arrested 10 people, nine of them students. AP

This story was originally published November 19, 2011.

A confrontation between police and Occupy protesters at UC Davis ended Friday afternoon with the arrest of 10 students after police officers used pepper spray to force protesters from an encampment in the campus quad, according to protest supporters and a campus police chief.

Police then left after ordering the remaining protesters to take down tents that had been put up Thursday.

Students said police used pepper spray on a group who sat on the ground and linked arms, blocking officers who were arresting other students.

"I saw one of my friends lifted in the air and thrown down, " said Sophia Kamran, 21, a fourth-year student.

An Occupy Davis encampment has been in place in downtown Davis for more than a month, but students increased their involvement following an afternoon rally Tuesday. A couple of dozen students were allowed to sleep overnight in the university administration building. They were evicted from the building Wednesday afternoon and began camping in the quad Thursday.

Nick Perrone, a graduate student in history and recording secretary for UAW Local 2865, the union representing graduate student workers on campus, said the union was among those supporting the Occupy protesters.

Perrone said they were notified by Chancellor Linda Katehi on Friday morning that they were required to remove the tents by 3 p.m.

Karen Nikos, a UC Davis spokeswoman, said the campers were given written warning to remove the tents by 3 p.m. or police would remove them. She said many of the campers did take down their tents before police arrived.

Shortly before 4 p.m., about 35 officers from UC Davis and other UC campuses as well as the city of Davis responded to the protest, said Annette Spicuzza, UC Davis police chief. They were wearing protective gear and some held batons.

The protest initially involved about 50 students, Spicuzza said, but swelled to about 200 as the confrontation with police escalated.

She said officers were forced to use pepper spray when students surrounded them. They used a sweeping motion on the group, per procedure, to avoid injury, she said.

The students were informed repeatedly ahead of time that if they didn't move, force would be used, she said.

"There was no way out of that circle, " Spicuzza said. "They were cutting the officers off from their support. It's a very volatile situation."

Chris Wong, a student protester, said he was one of those sprayed, but he looked down and didn't get a full dose. He said students then circled the police and tried to hold their ground. The police eventually left.

Nikos said students who were arrested are accused of failure to disperse and lodging without permission of the owner, both misdemeanors.

They were cited by UC Davis police and released.

Perrone criticized police for what he characterized as a particularly aggressive stance in dealing with the protesters.

Perrone said Local 2865 has an attorney on retainer to assist the protesters who were arrested.

UC's governing board was never scheduled to vote on a tuition increase at its planned meeting Wednesday, though some groups planning protests distributed publicity material saying it was. Regents canceled the meeting scheduled in San Francisco, citing "credible intelligence" that planned protests could result in violence and vandalism.

The newly scheduled Nov. 28 meeting will take place at four campuses -- in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Davis and Merced -- that will be connected in a teleconference.

Regents have expanded the time available for public comment, from 20 minutes to one hour. Members of the public can attend the meeting at any of the four locations.

The board is scheduled to discuss several financial matters, including its request for a 2012-13 budget of $2.8 billion.

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