UC president: 'Recommit to the ideal of peaceful protest'

Police at the University of California, Davis campus use pepper spray on a group of protesters as they attempt to clear an Occupy encampment from the school.
Police at the University of California, Davis campus use pepper spray on a group of protesters as they attempt to clear an Occupy encampment from the school. YouTube screenshot from asucd video

University of California President Mark Yudof wrote in a statement on Sunday that he is "appalled" by the images of UC Davis students being "doused with pepper spray and jabbed with police batons," and want the UC campuses to "recommit to the ideal of peaceful protest."

Read his full statement about the pepper-spray incident below. What do you think of it?

I am appalled by images of University of California students being doused with pepper spray and jabbed with police batons on our campuses.

I intend to do everything in my power as President of this university to protect the rights of our students, faculty and staff to engage in non-violent protest.

Chancellors at the UC Davis and UC Berkeley campuses already have initiated reviews of incidents that occurred on their campuses. I applaud this rapid response and eagerly await the results.

The University of California, however, is a single university with 10 campuses, and the incidents in recent days cry out for a system-wide response.

Therefore I will be taking immediate steps to set that response in motion.

I intend to convene all 10 chancellors, either in person or by telephone, to engage in a full and unfettered discussion about how to ensure proportional law enforcement response to non-violent protest.

To that end, I will be asking the Chancellors to forward to me at once all relevant protocols and policies already in place on their individual campuses, as well as those that apply to the engagement of non-campus police agencies through mutual aid agreements.

Further, I already have taken steps to assemble experts and stake-holders to conduct a thorough, far-reaching and urgent assessment of campus police procedures involving use of force, including post-incident review processes.

My intention is not to micromanage our campus police forces. The sworn officers who serve on our campuses are professionals dedicated to the protection of the UC community.

Nor do I wish to micromanage the chancellors. They are the leaders of our campuses and they have my full trust and confidence.

Nonetheless, the recent incidents make clear the time has come to take strong action to recommit to the ideal of peaceful protest.

As I have said before, free speech is part of the DNA of this university, and non-violent protest has long been central to our history. It is a value we must protect with vigilance. I implore students who wish to demonstrate to do so in a peaceful and lawful fashion. I expect campus authorities to honor that right.

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