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Davis, California

Monday, July 15, 2024

Editorial: Police brutality unacceptable

On Friday, UC Davis campus police used pepper spray to break up student protesters sitting and linking arms on the Quad. This travesty came at the end of a week of peaceful student protests in defense of public education.

This was completely unacceptable, uncalled for and inappropriate. Police should not have used pepper spray or excessive force on peaceful protesters, and the people responsible for these actions need to be held accountable.

Lieutenant John Pike, the officer who stepped over students to pepper spray them in the face, should immediately be removed from his position as a campus police officer. The actions he took against peaceful protesters were inexcusable. Furthermore, any other police officers who abused their power during this ordeal should also be removed from the police force.

Chief Annette Spicuzza needs to correct her misleading justification for the police actions, which she made during a press conference. John Pike stepping over students is clear evidence that police officers were not entrapped by protesters, as Spicuzza said.

Campus police should strive to protect students, and the act of pepper spraying the protesters was a clear violation of this goal. The university should revisit policies about using any kind of violence against peaceful student protesters, and changes should be made.

Students should and need to be able to feel safe on campus.

Chancellor Katehi announced Saturday that a task force made up of students, faculty and staff will be investigating the incident, and will report back to her in 30 days. This investigation should be more immediate.

We, The California Aggie editorial board, support the student protesters, and hope the university rights these wrongs immediately.


  1. I was a UC student way back when Jerry Brown first became Governor. I became a lawyer. You certainly are right that in effecting a detention or an arrest, the police may not use unreasonable force. Assuming that the police had a statutory basis for arresting occupiers, it appears that they had other, less harmful ways to attempt the arrests but chose to use excessive force. In the usual situation, no one would sue (except perhaps in small claims court) because the injuries were too minor; however, expect a lawsuit in this instance sponsored by the ACLU. I suggest the University apologize and try to settle with the victims promptly.

    And I have a suggestion for today’s students. Get involved in politics now and not just when you are out of school and unable to find a good job. Even if you are disappointed in President Obama, imagine if Newt Gingrich were to suceed him! It could happen.

  2. This is an outrage. Who decided the UC Davis police needed rifles and pepper spray? Who decided when and how they would be used? We need to know how the police obtained the arms they used and who paid for them, and more importantly, who decided to use them?

    “Chief Annette Spicuzza needs to correct her misleading justification for the police actions…” No, she needs to be fired, there is no room for error of judgment when you have sprayed pepper spray down students throats, or aimed rifles at them….for sitting on the grass!


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