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5,000 UC Davis students, faculty protest pepper spraying
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5,000 UC Davis students, faculty protest pepper spraying

Police chief on administrative leave for defending officers' actions

  • A University of California, Davis, police officer sprays sitting protesters with pepper spray Friday.
    terrydatiger screengrabA University of California, Davis, police officer sprays sitting protesters with pepper spray Friday.

More than 5,000 students, faculty members and protesters gathered in the main quad at University of California, Davis, on Monday to protest the use of pepper spray by university police against peaceful student protesters Friday, reported the San Francisco Chronicle.

UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi addressed the crowd, which was chanting slogans and calling for her resignation, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

According to the Chronicle, Katehi stayed for only a few minutes before being escorted off stage amidst shouts for her to step down. She reportedly said:

Our university has to be better. We need to work together. I know that you may not believe anything I say right now, but it is my responsibility to earn your trust.

Katehi told ABC News that she will not resign, saying that she feels the university needs her at this time. The Chancellor told the Sacramento Bee that she ordered police to take down the tents at the Occupy Davis encampment for "health and safety reasons" and never expected police action to interfere with the students' rally.

The Wall Street Journal reported that officials at UC Davis put police chief Annette Spicuzza on paid administrative leave after she defended the police officers' actions, saying that students had surrounded them and they were forced to act. Videos of the incident went viral over the weekend and show a police officer casually spraying pepper spray in a sweeping motion in the faces of seated students.

In response to this incident, University of California President Mark G. Yudof told the Los Angeles Times he would be meeting with the 10 campus chancellors, as well as experts and campus groups to conduct an "urgent assessment of campus police procedures involving use of force, including post-incident review processes."

The officer who sprayed the line of students has become an Internet meme, reported Huffington Post. The image of the officer in riot gear spraying pepper spray has been photoshopped into famous works of art across the Internet.

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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