More than 1,000 students and faculty members met in the main quad at UC Davis on Monday to hear Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi apologize for a now-infamous incident in which students were aggressively pepper strayed by campus police officers. Hours before meeting in the quad, the ACLU of Northern California released a copy of a letter sent to Katehi requesting documents and informing her they are launching an investigation against the university for the actions of its campus police.
“I am here to apologize,” an emotional Katehi told the students and faculty members in the main quad. “I feel horrible for what happened.”
“I’m just telling you, I don’t want to be the Chancellor of the University we had on Friday,” she went on to say amidst students booing and others yelling “let her speak!”
Her voice cracked as she described a protest sign reading “Remember Nov. 17, 1973” – a reference to the Athens Polytechnic uprising in Greece, in which 24 civilians were killed by a panicked government.
“I was there, and I don’t want to forget that,” said Katehi, a Greek immigrant who received a bachelors degree in electrical engineering from the National Technical University of Athens in 1977.
“Not a single student was violent – ever,” David Buscho, a 22-year-old mechanical engineering student who was pepper sprayed on Friday told the Los Angeles Times. Police arrested 10 protesters at the campus and another 11 were treated for the pepper spray-related injuries, including two who were taken to a hospital and then released.
On Monday afternoon a PDF (embedded below) hosted by the ACLU of Northern California’s website included a letter addressed to the Katehi. Michael Risher, a staff attorney for the ACLU of Northern California who signed the letter, told the Times that previous court decisions have held that the use of pepper spray against seated, non-violent demonstrators is a constitutional violation.
The letter requests records of UC Davis police department policies, general orders, training materials along with names of the officers who sprayed the pepper spray, the victims and even a copy of the label on the pepper spray bottle.
The ACLU of Northern California did not respond to a request for comment from Colorlines.com.