SAN FRANCISCO — The University of California, Davis said Monday that it had placed its police chief on administrative leave amid outrage over widely circulated videos of officers dousing student protesters with pepper spray.
In a news release, campus officials said it was necessary to place Chief Annette Spicuzza on leave to restore trust and calm tensions after Friday’s crackdown on the “Occupy UC-Davis” encampment, which resulted in 10 arrests.
The school has also placed two officers on administrative leave.
Videos posted online show one riot-gear-clad officer spraying a line of protesters as they sit passively with their arms intertwined. Spicuzza told the AP that the second officer was identified in videos.
On Sunday, UC President Mark Yudof said he was “appalled” by images of protesters being pepper-sprayed and planned an assessment of law enforcement procedures on all campuses.
“Free speech is part of the DNA of this university, and nonviolent protest has long been central to our history,” said Yudof, who heads the 10-campus UC system. “It is a value we must protect with vigilance.”
UC-Davis officials refused to identify the two officers who were placed on leave. Spicuzza had earlier told the AP that one had served on the force for many years and that the other was “fairly new.” Both officers were trained in the use of pepper spray under department policy.
UC-Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi said she had asked the Yolo County district attorney’s office to investigate the department’s use of force. She said she had been inundated with reaction from alumni, students and faculty.
The protest Friday was held in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement and in solidarity with demonstrators at the University of California, Berkeley who were jabbed by police with batons Nov. 9.
Nine students hit by pepper spray were treated at the scene, and two were taken to hospitals and released, officials said.