California News

UC Davis chancellor holds town hall meeting

Tuesday, November 22, 2011
UC Davis chancellor holds town hall meeting Davis town hall Demonstrators hold signs during a rally on the University of California, Davis campus in Davis, Calif., Monday, Nov. 21, 2011 after police pepper-sprayed peaceful demonstrators during an anti-Wall Street protest at the same spot on Friday. Video posted on YouTube shows UC Davis police pepper spraying protesters. (Courtesy Stephen McKone/Aggie TV) UC Davis protesters share their stories of being pepper sprayed by university police.

At UC Davis there was more damage control underway. On Tuesday, the chancellor held a town hall meeting answering questions about last Friday's pepper spray incident that is getting international attention.

The students protesting at the campus are feeling less pressure and there are about 70 tents set up. UC Davis is on the receiving end of international attention, but not the kind it wants. For the first time, UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi spoke at length with students and faculty about Friday's incident.

Katehi addressed the students and faculty for two hours Tuesday night. She said, "I need as a chancellor to spend a lot more time with the students."

She gave that response after being turned away from a student gathering Tuesday afternoon. But in the evening she apologized, answered questions and listened.

Katehi has refused to resign and she had this to say when asked about the decision to use pepper spray: "The police does not report to me. The police reports to the vice chancellor."

"Do I feel terrible about it? Absolutely," said UC Davis vice chancellor John Meyer.

Meyer admitted he and police officials were scared after seeing police clashes in Oakland and UC Berkeley.

"There was great discretion given to officers both for their safety and the scene to make decisions in the field," said Meyer.

The police chief and the two officers who were involved have been placed on administrative leave.

Katehi promised big changes in police policy. She said, "...and those changes will be implanted in a way that allows for peaceful demonstrations that do not create fear."

The talk now is about the general strike on Monday when about 2,000 students and faculty plan to walk out.

There are no less than six investigations looking into the pepper spraying incident. They include ones from UC Davis, UC Davis Academic Senate, Yolo County Sheriff, Yolo County District Attorney, the State Senate Education Committee, and the UC president Mark Yudoff announced they have retained former Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton to conduct an independent investigation for the University Of California.

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