California state Sen. Leland Yee (D) on Monday called for an independent investigation of the pepper-spraying incident that occurred at the University of California-Davis on Friday.
Two campus police officers hit a group of “Occupy” protesters who had locked arms and refused to move directly in the face with a stream of pepper-spray, despite showing no signs of violence.
Video of the scene immediately went viral, getting over a million views within 24 hours, and the main officer responsible for using the chemical irritant on peaceful student protesters has since become an Internet meme.
UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, who declared that students were “trespassing” on the school’s quad, said she would create a task force to investigate the matter and report back in 30 days.
“Chancellor Katehi’s task force is a sham with the fox guarding the hen house,” said Yee. “Only a truly independent investigation – absent the influence of her office or the police department – is in order. Students and taxpayers deserve to know what she knew and when, and what direction she gave to campus police. Waiting 30 days, as Katehi suggests, is unacceptable. The evidence is clear and we need to hold individuals accountable.”
Katehi has an accomplished academic career and was appointed to chair the Committee on the National Medal of Science by President George W. Bush. But Yee noted that she was no stranger to controversy.
Two years ago, Yee asked the University of California to rescind Katehi’s contract offer because of her alleged involvement in a University of Illinois scandal. While overseeing the admissions department as the university’s provost, students of influential people were admitted despite weak academic records.
Katehi apologized to crowd of protesters on Monday, saying she didn’t “want to be the chancellor of the university we had on Friday.” But many students and faculty members don’t think her apology is enough, and have called for her to resign.