Viral video spreads Occupy message beyond college campuses

UC-Davis faculty members have written scathing letters to university administrators, including Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, who placed Police Chief Annette Spicuzza on administrative Nov. 21, three days after the pepper spray video was posted to YouTube. Two police officers were suspended after the video was posted to YouTube.

The board of the Davis Faculty Association released a petition calling for Kaheti’s resignation just hours after the camera phone video became public.

In a letter, board members called the police actions “unprovoked, disproportional, and excessive,” adding that “police brutality damages the university’s public image, and, more importantly, it damages the climate for free expression at UC.”

“The Chancellor’s role is to enable open and free inquiry, not to suppress it,” the board wrote in its open letter.

Bob Ostertag, a UC Davis professor of technocultural studies, wrote in a Nov. 19 blog post that campus police used tactics not permitted by guards in federal prisons.

“Even in the case of a prison riot in which inmates use extreme violence, once a prisoner sits down he or she is not considered to be an imminent threat,” Ostertag wrote in a blog on The Huffington Post. “And if prison guards go into a situation where the use of pepper spray is considered likely, they are required to have medical personnel nearby to treat the victims of the chemical agent.”

Ostertag continued: “Apparently, in the state of California felons incarcerated for violent crimes have rights that students at public universities do not.”

The ubiquity of web-connected smart phones with high-quality cameras has become an essential tool for Occupy protesters from the movement’s origins on Wall Street to its offshoots more than 3,000 miles away on the UC-Davis campus, said Brian Stewart, journalism network associate for Campus Progress, a liberal think tank based in Washington, D.C.

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