[UPDATED with UCI Chief "Appalled":] UC Protesters Get Help From Above to Stop Campus Cops' Baton Jabs and Pepper Spraying
UPDATE, NOV. 23, 10:24 A.M.: UC Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake has issued a statement where he says that he is "appalled" by the police response to peaceful demonstrators on other campuses as witnessed in recent YouTube videos. The brutal actions violate UC policies, procedures and the sense of trust state-owned universities have built and maintained in their communities, Drake said.
"We fully support student dissent on campus," he adds in his full statement after the jump . . .
Message from Chancellor Michael Drake regarding recent campus protests
I was appalled at the use of force by police against peaceful demonstrators at other campuses as seen on YouTube videos over the past few days. These actions violate our policies and procedures. Worse than that, they violate the well earned trust that our community has placed in our campus police. We understand that these actions have been condemned by UC President Mark Yudof, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, and UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi as well, and that the officers involved in the UC Davis incident have been placed on administrative leave pending a review.
We fully support student dissent on campus, it is an important part of the university learning environment, and a cornerstone of the political process in a healthy democracy. We work actively to protect the free speech rights of our students, faculty, staff and community members while maintaining a safe environment. We do this through constructive engagement and thoughtful enforcement of our policies. We partner in this effort with our campus police officers who are actively and sincerely committed to protecting the health and safety of demonstrators as well as bystanders.
President Yudof has promised a review of campus policies on all 10 UC campuses. We are collaborating fully.
We appreciate all of your efforts to keep UC Irvine a place where the broadest range of ideas can be shared and discussed in meaningful, productive and peaceful ways.--Chancellor Michael V. Drake
CLARIFICATION, NOV. 23, 9:11 A.M.: The original version of this post reported that Chairwoman Sherry Lansing will gavel the UC Board of Regents to order on Monday in Merced. Actually, Lansing won't be on that UC campus.
Due to perceived threats of violence and vandalism, the board is meeting via teleconference.
Different board members will physically be at UCLA, UC Davis, UC Merced and UC San Francisco's Mission Bay campus. Only one board member will be at Merced, and it won't be Lansing, according to James Leonard, the news director in that university's Office of Communications.
As originally reported, public comments will be expanded from the usual 20 minutes to at least an hour.
In related news about one of the things that has Regents on edge, UC Davis' embattled Chancellor Linda Katehi is now saying campus police officers defied her orders when they pepper-sprayed peaceful protesters Friday.
An independent investigation into the incident will be headed by former LAPD Chief William J. Bratton, the UC has announced.
ORIGINAL POST, NOV. 22, 10:46 A.M.: High tuition, crowded classes, lack of post-grad prospects . . . well, at least UC Irvine students have this going for them: UC President Mark G. Yudof has their backs when it comes to getting pepper-sprayed or baton-jabbed by campus police.
Following incidents at the Davis and Berkeley campuses that "appalled" Yudof, he convened via teleconference all 10 UC chancellors--including UCI's Michael Drake--on Monday to stress this message: "We cannot let this happen again."
Refreshingly, that does not mean breaking out lethal force when confronting peaceful protesters, quite the opposite. In a stunningly non-Ronald Reagan/S.I. Hayakawa moment, Yudof called on his campus chiefs to ensure everything possible will be done to protect the rights of student, faculty and staff dissenters, according to a statement from the UC president's office.
On Nov. 9, peaceful protesters at UC Berkeley were jabbed with batons and nine were doused with pepper spray by campus police. Two protesters were treated at and released from a local hospital, and 10 were arrested. Then, on Friday, UC Davis protesters sitting passively, locked in arms and in solidarity with their Berkeley counterparts and the Occupy Wall Street movement were also doused with pepper spray by two campus cops, as clearly shown on video taken at the time.
Those officers and the campus police chief were placed on administrative leave to restore calm. Facing an onslaught of criticism from students, faculty, staff, alumni and local politicians, UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi vowed to speed up an investigation of the incident from the usual three months it takes to conduct one. (At least someone in the state will be getting O.T.)
But, In light of the video evidence, Yudof has already reached a conclusion.
"Free speech is part of the DNA of this university, and non-violent protest has long been central to our history," he says in a statement issued Sunday. "It is a value we must protect with vigilance."
On Monday, Yudof told the chancellors he has his full confidence in them but that he was directing senior staff to work with each campus police chief to ensure something like this does not happen again.
The chairwoman of the UC Board of Regents, Sherry Lansing, is also chiming in via print and video statements, saying she was "shocked and appalled" by images of campus police action against Davis and Berkeley protesters. Lansing agreed with Yudof that steps must be taken to protect peaceful protesters, and she invited the public to share their concerns when she gavels her board to order on Monday
in Merced. (Writer's note--Regents are meeting via teleconference from UCLA, UC Davis, UC Merced and UC San Francisco's Mission Bay campus,) Public comments will be expanded from the usual 20 minutes to at least an hour, Lansing noted.