VIDEO: After Pepper-Spraying, A Powerfully Silent Protest At UC Davis
Hundreds were injured and at least one person died Saturday in Cairo when police swept through a camp of protesters in Tahrir Square. A crackdown continues in Syria. Yemen's oppressive government remains in place.
It's always important to keep things in perspective.
Still, what happened Friday on the campus of the University of California Davis has struck a chord. In a demonstration of support for the Occupy movement, a small group of protesters was sitting, arms linked together. Campus police told them to move. The students didn't. And that's when an officer walked down the line of seated men and women, pepper-spraying them. Some took it straight in their faces. Many of the several hundred others who were there screamed in terror and frustration.
A video of the incident has been viewed more than half a million times so far and has spread the story.
Campus police said the officers had been surrounded by protesters and commanders have defended their actions. So did university Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi — which led to a call from the school's faculty association for her resignation. Katehi has since said she wants an outside, independent panel to review what happened and that she doesn't plan to step down.
There's a second video related to this story that we want to share. In some ways it's more powerful than the one that's been going viral.
On Saturday, after a news conference she held, Katehi remained inside one of the university's buildings for a couple hours. Outside, protesters regrouped. And when she emerged, there was one of the most amazing scenes so far related to the Occupy movement. As Katehi and another woman walked three blocks to an SUV, they passed through a gauntlet of several hundred students — who remained silent in a powerful show of their disdain.
Update at 9 a.m. ET, Nov. 21: UC Davis Pepper-Spraying: Police Chief Put On Leave, Chancellor To Speak
Update at 2:15 p.m. ET: Two campus police officers have been placed on administrative leave, the university says. And, according to The Davis Enterprise, Katehi today issued a statement saying she wants to speed up the timetable for an inquiry into the incident and that:
"I spoke with students this weekend, and I feel their outrage. I have also heard from an overwhelming number of students, faculty, staff and alumni from around the country. I am deeply saddened that this happened on our campus, and as chancellor, I take full responsibility for the incident."
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