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Katehi: UCD police defied my orders

UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi attends a meeting with students who pitched tents on campus on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011. She was invited to the group's general assembly, but after she waited quietly for 20 minutes the students could not agree on whether to deviate from their agenda to allow her to speak and she finally walked away.
UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi attends a meeting with students who pitched tents on campus on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011. She was invited to the group's general assembly, but after she waited quietly for 20 minutes the students could not agree on whether to deviate from their agenda to allow her to speak and she finally walked away. hamezcua@sacbee.com

This story was originally published November 23, 2011.

As the tent city on the University of California, Davis, tripled in size, Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi insisted Tuesday that the school's police department defied her orders when it used force against students in last week's pepper-spray fiasco.

"We told the police to remove the tents or the equipment, " Katehi said in an interview with The Bee in her office inside the administration building, which remains locked down to the public.

"We told them very specifically to do it peacefully, and if there were too many of them, not to do it, if the students were aggressive, not to do it. And then we told them we also do not want to have another Berkeley."

In her most expansive comments since Friday's attempt to remove the tents spiraled into the pepper-spraying of students, Katehi said she still does not know who decided to use pepper spray and was stunned when she first saw video clips of it Friday night.

"It looked horrible, horrific, I would say ... , " Katehi said. "I can tell you that I woke up Saturday really early in the morning, like 3 a.m., and I felt like it was a disaster on our hands."

She also said she never would have approved the use of full-scale riot gear by officers sent in to remove the students and that Police Chief Annette Spicuzza was part of an emergency conference call before the incident.

"We told her that it has to be peaceful, that anything else would not be acceptable, " Katehi said one day after Spicuzza was placed on administrative leave along with two officers who used the pepper spray.

Spicuzza did not respond to a message left at her home Tuesday, but she has previously said the officers used the pepper spray because they were being cut off from other police by the students. Video clips that have surfaced so far do not show that happening.

Katehi said Spicuzza indicated Saturday that it was Lt. John Pike who decided to use the pepper spray.

"I believe on Saturday when I spoke with her I said, 'What happened?' " Katehi said. "She tried to explain that it was the decision of Lt. Pike."

Pike's voice mail has been full since Sunday, and he could not be reached.

Video clips of the officers spraying students who were sitting peacefully on the ground have been viewed online by millions of people since Friday and resulted in widespread calls for Katehi to resign.

She has resisted those calls and met with student groups several times Tuesday, including an afternoon session at which she called for all charges against 10 individuals in Friday's incident -- nine of them students -- to be dropped.

She also said UC Davis and the UC system would cover all medical expenses incurred by students who were pepper-sprayed.

The effort last Friday to remove the campers, who had gathered to protest tuition hikes as a part of the growing Occupy Wall Street movement, backfired almost immediately.

After a Monday rally attended by thousands of students, faculty and others at which Katehi apologized, groups once again began to erect tents on the quad. By Tuesday, there were more than 75 tents, and Katehi said she would seek negotiations to coax them into leaving rather than take renewed police action.

Meanwhile, she has ordered police to remain ready to help campers if some sort of emergency arises, but to stay out of sight.

"They are on call, but they are not visible, " she said, adding that the school has brought in portable restrooms and is looking into providing facilities for food and drink to maintain a healthy environment.

Katehi visited the growing encampment at least twice on Tuesday with mixed results. In the morning, she said, she was able to speak with 20 to 30 students and "had a very good discussion."

She was invited back about 11 a.m. during the group's general assembly. But after she waited quietly for 20 minutes, the students could not agree on whether to deviate from their agenda to allow her to speak and she finally walked away.

On her way back to her office, Katehi was greeted by a number of students who expressed their support for her and said they do not believe she had approved of officers using force against the students.

"She was worried about the safety of the students, " said Kiran Ashan, a psychology junior.

"And I just feel that those (campers), some of them are from Occupy Sacramento, they're not even Davis students, " Ashan said. "What are they doing on a Davis campus?

The use of force by campus police at Davis and Berkeley against protesters has resulted in a systemwide review by UC officials, and the Legislature agreed Tuesday to hold hearings on the matter.

In addition, UC President Mark Yudof announced that he has asked William Bratton, who has headed police forces in Los Angeles, Boston and New York, to conduct an independent review of Friday's incident.

Katehi said the policies that campuses use to respond to encampments need to be changed as a result of the latest incidents.

University officials must "recognize that we are a campus of the 21st century, and students have different needs and different expectations of how to express themselves, and yet we have protocols of 30 or 40 years ago, " she said. "And we have a police force that has been trained for the incidents we dealt with 20 or 30 years ago."

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