UC Davis Follow-Up: Chancellor's Eerily Silent Walk of Shame, Faculty Member's Open Letter
As the Second Alarm reports [via BoingBoing], a large crowd of student protesters and their supporters interrupted a press conference on Saturday afternoon with UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi and campus police, demanding a response regarding Friday's brutal pepper spraying incident, along with her resignation. Initially, Katehi refused to leave the building, allegedly intending to give the press the impression that the crowd was trapping her inside.
The crowd then dispersed and formed a large gap in order to allow the Chancellor to exit, chanting “we are peaceful” and “just walk home,” and remained there for three hours. The above video documents the agonizing three-block walk that the Chancellor took to her car, which is so silent you can hear every one of her footsteps resonating on the pavement.
A few reporters can be heard asking Katehi questions in the footage, and at one point, she tells them she will address the students on Monday.
Additionally, Nathan Brown, an assistant English professor at UC Davis issued a scathing open letter to Chancellor Katehi asking on behalf of The Davis Faculty Association that she step down.
Brown details the pepper spraying incident:
Without any provocation whatsoever, other than the bodies of these students sitting where they were on the ground, with their arms linked, police pepper-sprayed students. Students remained on the ground, now writhing in pain, with their arms linked.
What happened next?
Police used batons to try to push the students apart. Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood.
He then uses Katehi's own words against her:
On Wednesday November 16, you issued a letter by email to the campus community. In this letter, you discussed a hate crime which occurred at UC Davis on Sunday November 13. In this letter, you express concern about the safety of our students. You write, “it is particularly disturbing that such an act of intolerance should occur at a time when the campus community is working to create a safe and inviting space for all our students.” You write, “while these are turbulent economic times, as a campus community, we must all be committed to a safe, welcoming environment that advances our efforts to diversity and excellence at UC Davis.”
I will leave it to my colleagues and every reader of this letter to decide what poses a greater threat to “a safe and inviting space for all our students” or “a safe, welcoming environment” at UC Davis: 1) Setting up tents on the quad in solidarity with faculty and students brutalized by police at UC Berkeley? or 2) Sending in riot police to disperse students with batons, pepper-spray, and tear-gas guns, while those students sit peacefully on the ground with their arms linked? Is this what you have in mind when you refer to creating “a safe and inviting space?” Is this what you have in mind when you express commitment to “a safe, welcoming environment?”
Katehi told CNN that she has set up a task force made up of faculty, students and staff, which will review the events and will "provide a report within 90 days." She is refusing to step down.
Update: Commenter Speedbird_9 brings it to SFist's attention that Katehi was allegedly involved in a scandal at the University of Illinois, in which "the school admitted hundreds of students with weak academic records following the efforts of politicians and other heavily influential people to lobby on their behalf," as reported by The People's Vanguard of Davis back in 2009.