DAVIS (CBS13) – Law enforcement officials defended the tactics used Friday to dismantle an encampment set up by “Occupy Wall Street” sympathizers on the UC Davis quad, a raid that drew accusations of excessive force from students after sitting protesters were subjected to pepper spray at point-blank range.

UC Davis Police officers in riot gear warned “Occupy UC Davis” demonstrators to pack up their tents and leave the field located between the Memorial Union and Shields Library at about 3:00 p.m., and then moved in to take down the protesters’ tents a half hour later.

University officials had warned students several times since Thursday that camping would not be allowed on the quad.

A growing crowd filled the field as officers hauled away tents and a number of protesters linked arms and sat down on the path in the middle of the field, defying orders to leave. Shortly before 4:00 p.m., an officer used a can of pepper spray to coat the sitting demonstrators in the chemical dispersant before officers began taking students into custody one by one.

The watching crowd began shouting chants of “Shame on you” and “Let them go,” while dozens of students recorded the encounter on cell phone cameras.

“I don’t think that was warranted,” one protester told CBS13. “It was non-violent protests, we were sitting, linking arms.”

UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza said officers used force out of concern for their own safety after they were surrounded by students.

“If you look at the video you are going to see that there were 200 people in that quad,” said Chief Spicuzza. “Hindsight is 20-20 and based on the situation we were sitting in, ultimately that was the decision that was made.”

Authorities are still reviewing video of the incident, Spicuzza added.

Officers left the quad after making 10 arrests, nine of which were UC Davis students. Law enforcement retreated out of the field in a direction that was not obstructed by sitting protesters.

Protesters vowed to remain in the quad and reestablish their camp Friday evening, but as of 10:00 p.m. Friday, no demonstrators or tents were visible in the area.

>> Send photos and videos to CBS13.

Comments (223)
  1. Steve in L.A. says:

    OK. So after reading this news article, I’m left with the impression that Chief Spicuzza’s logic runs something like this…

    (1) My officers were surrounded by 200 unarmed students in jeans, t-shirts, and running shoes shouting “shame on you” and “let them go.”

    (2) My trained officers dressed in full riot gear and armed with radios, guns, batons, and chemical weapons felt threatened by words.

    (3) So the officer’s CO on the scene steps forward and pepper-sprays unarmed non-violent students sitting on the ground because he thought that action would somehow de-escalate the tension and lessen the “dire threat” about to “engulf” the “surrounded” officers/Red-Coats.

    Does that accurately sum up the Chief’s logic and reading of the situation?

    Good grief. We in US have got to be at a major turning point. Peaceful dissent cannot be met with a militarized response. Our children are NOT our enemies. Good God!

    If campus police can deal with being “surrounded by students” then… do I really need to finish this statement?


    “…UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza said officers used force out of concern for their own safety after they were surrounded by students.”

    “If you look at the video you are going to see that there were 200 people in that quad,” said Chief Spicuzza. “Hindsight is 20-20 and based on the situation we were sitting in, ultimately that was the decision that was made.”

    1. Jeff says:

      We should be able to upvote comments, because this would get my vote.

  2. Joe says:

    “If you look at the video you are going to see that there were 200 people in that quad,” said Chief Spicuzza. “Hindsight is 20-20 and based on the situation we were sitting in, ultimately that was the decision that was made.”

    What kind of justification is that? It happened to be the wrong decision.

  3. Canadian says:

    “I want to be very clear in calling upon the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters. The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. And the United States will stand up for them everywhere.” —Barack Obama

    Yet this happens in his own Country? Very disturbing.

  4. Jim says:

    The article ends by saying that the protesters vowed to continue the occupation, but had mostly cleared out later that evening… However, in the video, you can clearly hear the GA asking for everyone to reconvene on Monday at noon.

    Also, it should be pointed out that the officer didn’t pull out the pepper spray in a moment when he was about to get attacked… he struts around and holds the can in the air first… this is the same behavior we see in serial killers. He is taunting the crowd and showing off. Even before he pulls the trigger, he has already acted in a way that is threatening, unprofessional, and arrogant.

    This officer should be terminated immediately. And whoever ordered these officers to show up in riot gear with paintball guns should be run out of the country.

    Even if the students didn’t obey orders to clear out, this was not necessary. There are a million different ways that the situation could have been handled.

    1) suspending students who were insubordinate.
    2) turning the sprinklers on
    3) throw a party with free food somewhere nearby
    4) having regular cops just walk around until people just dispersed.
    5) sending in street preachers to talk to the students about Jesus Christ
    6) water balloons

    …and those are just off the top of my head.

    1. CW says:

      if you watch during the center time of the video while they were on the sidewalk, the cop walking around with his hand on his ear was taking on a cell phone.
      When he got off the phone is when the spray came out.
      Someone authorized the use of chemical agents to force disbursement.
      The question is, who was he talking to?

    2. Go Coppers Go! says:

      If the officers had shown up without riot gear on, and some student got squirrely and stupid; and an offeicer got hurt–would you be inclined to also call the oficer arrogant and unprofessional?

      Just wondering, are you an anarchist with an agenda, following this occupy movement around–or are you really that clueless how the police really set standards to protect their officers?

      No one likes the idea that officers are overstepping civil rights; but we all know that given the elements of a large group of young people, dissatisfaction, and a group mentality can lead to heightened emotional states and violence.

      Here is another thought, when the little kids were told to go home, no camping allowed; and they refused–that was an act of trespass. They are lucky they didn’t get arrested for a trespass misdemeanor. protesting is one thing. Camping and being an unwelcome nightmare and scourge to the eyesight and health and safety of the public is just unacceptable.

      1. RobK1967 says:

        Congrats on defending the indefensible, your entire argument, or lack thereof is laughable

      2. Jim says:

        “Camping and being an unwelcome nightmare and scourge to the eyesight and health and safety of the public is just unacceptable.”

        You are right – We should pepperspray the homeless too… I hate when they ask for change.

        I am pretty clueless about how police set standards… you got me there. I don’t know why anyone would authorize the use of a chemical weapon on unarmed, seated “kids.”

      3. 99%er says:

        If only we enforced banking and finance laws as strictly as “no camping’ laws–then we wouldn’t be in this mess.

      4. blake says:

        That’s not trespassing. It’s a public school AND they have the freedom to protest.

        The riot gear wasn’t the problem. It was the pepperspray. As a US Army veteran, this is NOT the correct way to go. Pepperspray is for quelling RIOTS not PROTESTS! If the kids were throwing rocks, or spitting, or throwing punches, THATS When you use pepperspray. Not just because youre a jerk with pepperspray who wants to bully college students.

        These kids are supported by the UC Davis Faculty. Even the City of Davis Police Department has stated they took the wrong action.

        Stop looking for exuses for bullies to be bullies.

    3. will says:

      Sorry, students could of avoided it by obeying the orders to clear. Look at the offenders NOT the peace-keepers.

      1. RobK1967 says:

        I am looking at the offenders, the so called police. Why do so many enable the indefensible?

      2. blake says:

        Will, would you let me search your house without a warrant?
        Would you let a police officer search the trunk of your car just because he was curious?

        No. There is a reason we have laws. The police are no exception.

        Yes the officers ordered the students to clear the areas HOWEVER, citizens are ONLY obligated to follow LAWFUL orders from peace officers. This was an unlawful order, and therefore it does not need to be followed. If it doesn’t need to be followed, the police have no right to enforce it. Not only did the police enforce an unlawful order, they used excessive force in doing so.

        The Nazis were just like that. And Im sure you don’t support them.

    4. Mark Zoe says:

      You can tell by the officers body language and expression on their face that they were very scared. They should have pulled out their guns and started firing at the students. Look at the officer in the background with his hands spread apart, some may interpret this as him holding the crowd back, but he was really trying to find a way out.

  5. CW says:

    Spicuzza —-> Liar Liar pants on fire.
    Edwards v. South Carolina, 372 U.S. 229 (1963), in an 8-to-1 decision, the high court overturned the breach of peace convictions of 180 black students who had peacefully marched to the state capitol to protest discrimination. The police stopped the demonstration and arrested the students because they were afraid that the 200-300 who gathered to watch the demonstration might cause a riot. The court held the state law unconstitutionally over-broad because it penalized the exercise of free speech, peaceable assembly, and the right of petition for a redress of grievances. A disorderly crowd, or the fear of one, cannot be used to stop a peaceful demonstration or cancel the right of peaceable assembly.

    1. blake says:

      It’s not being arrested that is the issue. It’s the use of excessive force.

      It’s like if a teacher punches a student in the face for not doing is homework.

      Would you really stand up for the teacher because the student should have done his homework? No. Why? Because it was excessive and unwarranted action.

  6. CW says:

    How about this?
    The legal bills will be coming in.
    You need to be re-educated.
    Hague v. C.I.O., 307 U.S. 496 (1939), the high court ruled that peaceful demonstrators may not be prosecuted for “disorderly conduct.” This case also secured streets and sidewalks as public forums.

    1. Time for kiddies to grow up says:

      Bogus argument. Protesting, maybe. But no longer protesting when they choose to camp out. Camping out is illegal. And refusing to vacate is illegal. I believe there is also an infraction in not doing as an officer says.

      And as difficult as it is for you to understand, those cops did the right thing in making sure the students were not going to mass jump those coips; and they kept control of the situation. Just look at how quickly the Oakland movement got.There is an inherent risk to harm when involved in a protest involved a group of dissatisfied people who are directly confronting a perceived representative of authority.
      And we have already seen on this thread a great deal of spectacular maturity and show of respect for the government, the police and the school faculty.
      Those kids are lucky more of them didn’t get arrested. I believe there is a clause in every tuition assistance and grant package I have seen that restricts payout to felonies, violent misdemeanors, and any charges involving drugs..

      1. RobK1967 says:

        You can excuse fascism if you wish, it does not change the fact the cops were wrong and that you are just an enabler of police brutality. Seig Heil

      2. blake says:

        Actually you’re wrong. Refusing to follow an UNLAWFUL order is NOT illegal. These officers used batons. They sprayed pepperspray down someones throat, and he was coughing up blood 45 minutes.

        If we followed every order given by police, we’d be living in a dictatorship.

        Police officers are JUST as likely to assault a protestor as a protestor is to assault a police officer. Don’t defend this cowardly bully of an excuse.

        Because even the Davis City PD said the campus police were WRONG.

  7. CW says:

    See any conflict with your free speech rights regarding this incident?

    United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542 (1876), the Supreme Court said that the “right of the people peaceably to assemble for the purpose of petitioning Congress for a redress of grievances, or for anything else connected with the powers and duties of the national government, is an attribute of national citizenship, and as such, under the protection of, and guaranteed by, the United States.” The high court applied the liberty only to any federal government’s encroachment.

    De Jonge v. Oregon, 299 U.S 353 (1937), the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the right to peaceably assemble “for lawful discussion, however unpopular the sponsorship, cannot be made a crime.” The decision applied the First Amendment right of peaceful assembly to the states through the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

  8. Squire Bond says:

    The Chief is lying. Did she watch the video. That is not in the slightest what happened. Does she have a brain in her head. She needs to go and so do half the cops that work for her.

  9. PG says:

    No one has denied anyone the right to peaceably assemble. Peaceably assemble means that you are also responsible for obeying all laws, rules and regulations. The students did NOT do this. When asked to leave, they linked arms and refused to move. This went on for several hours before police used force. Had the protesters moved when asked, there would have been NO pepper spray, NO use of force and NO arrests. That is the beauty of this country. Everyone has the same equal access UNDER THE LAW. If you choose to IGNORE the law and law enforcement, then you RUN THE RISK of being arrested and possibly having force used against you. SHAME ON OUR NEWS MEDIA for attempting to make these rebellious toddlers out to be innocent victims. if this is the only means that supposedly intelligent students can find to protest, then we need to pull ALL funding for our universities because clearly they are not being educated appropriately in how the judicial process works. Protesters do NOT have special rights that no one else has which means that they do NOT have the right to camp out where camping is NOT allowed. The police were simply doing their job of removing students from the quad when their LEGAL TIME to be there was up. You leave, go home and come back the next day if you so choose, but you cannot camp out. Inappropriate use of force would have been officers drawing weapons and shooting persons who refused to leave. Spraying with pepper spray to get them to unlink arms and disperse is NOT excessive or inappropriate use of force. Peppers spray, rubber bullets and other things have been designed to aid law enforcement for those situations where people refuse to obey, but without causing great bodily injury. They would not have to resort to using these aids if people simply did the right thing and dispersed when asked. Just because a large number of you out there have a disrespect for rules and regulations doesn’t mean that you have a right to break the rules and not suffer the consequences. When there are rules I don’t like, laws that I think are bad, I work with my congressman, senators, city officials or whoever to GET THEM CHANGED I don’t throw a public temper tantrum which is basically what the occupy movement is. I accomplishes ZERO and creates huge problems for the rest of the population. And no way do these people represent 99% of the population. For every person who tells me they agree with the occupy movement, I have 5 telling me the infants need to grow up.

    1. RobK1967 says:

      I am truly sorry you are so clueless, I do pity you if you are really that delusional

    2. Alan Santos says:

      Good job police. Next time use your firearms against these criminals!

      1. blake says:

        PG – Last time I checked pepperspray was NEVER authorized to be used by spraying it down someones throat and are coughing up blood 45 minutes later. That is excessive force.

        2). Unlawful orders do NOT have to be followed. The order to disperse was itself illegal, and therefore the police had no right to order it, let alone enforce it.

        You think you know the laws and rules, but when the City of Davis Police Department tells the campus police “YOU WERE WRONG.”, it’s game over. You lost. Don’t try to defend bullies. Our country has enough of them.

  10. Steve Egger says:

    My God, those demonstrators look dangerolus! They must be students. They probably think Democracy is alive and well in this country. Probably a bunch of Communists/Hippy/Free Love types.

  11. DJF says:

    It looks to me like not all the officers were comfortable with the use of pepper spray and not that they were in fear of their lives. The officer doing the spraying is having way too much fun at his job. I wonder how many of you condeming the students have had to pay the high tuition these students do while the regents, etc keep getting raises. Somehow I do not see how a higher salary is prt of the requred cost of running educational institutions. Seems more like greed to me.

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