Sunday, November 20, 2011

Why Chancellor Katehi Must Resign - UPDATE

Linda P.B. Katehi, 2010
UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi is quoted as saying she takes "full responsibility for the incident" this past Friday where dozens of students were injured, requiring hospitalization in some cases, as a result of excessive force by the campus' private police force.

Either she knew what was going on or she didn't.  If she knew, that means she approved of the tactics.  Any school administrator that knowingly places her students in physical jeopardy has no business in a position of authority.  If she didn't know, that means she simply is not in control of her employees - men and women who wear a badge and uniform and police the campus under her jurisdiction.

In either case, she should resign.

Ms. Katehi vows to set up a task force to investigate what happened. We pretty much know what happened already - the recounts are numerous, consistent, and on video all over the Internet. Allowing the Chancellor to 'investigate' makes as much sense as asking Dick Cheney to investigate who authorized Scooter Libby to release the identity of a covert CIA agent.

Perhaps Katehi should take note of the law in California and rethink what she has condoned or at least sanctioned in ignorance:

However, the state of California does have a few rules and regulations regarding the use of pepper spray. It is absolutely legal to carry pepper spray and use it to protect your personal safety without having any special state or federal permits. CA laws do regulate the size and/or weight of the defense spray products you can carry and buy. The legal container size must be equal to or below 2.5 ounces of active product. There are many pepper spray items and models that comply with this state set standard.

The pepper spray carried, shipped, sold or used in California should also be labeled with a warning stating that the product is only intended for self-defense. In general, most state laws (California included) enforce that pepper spray should only be used in self defense situations where you fear your life or safety is in danger. Illegal use of pepper spray products (perhaps dispensing them out of anger or as non self defense violence against another person) can bring fines of $1000 and up and/or three years in prison.

California: Weight restricted to 2.5 ounces (about 70 grams).

Granted, the UC Davis paramilitary force may have obtained special permits, but given the restrictions on its normal commercial use, I seriously doubt what we witnessed (video) constitutes lawful use in California.

Prior to being sprayed three times over with a canister containing a lot more than 2.5 ounces of OC,
students sit with arms linked and heads bowed, never threatening the campus police.
If the victims of the pepper spraying go to court, they should revisit the precedent set by protesters who won their case against Northern California police, charging that the pepper spray applied directly to their eyes with a cotton swab did not meet the 'reasonable force under the circumstances' requirement.  I venture the same could definitely be said about the repeated, point-blank pepper spraying of students who were simply seated on the ground with arms linked.

UPDATE: According to, several of the students who were injured in the pepper-spray incident are planning to file lawsuits and have already been in contact with civil rights attorneys.  (h/t Zane1, comment at Politicalgates)
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