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Friday, November 26, 2021

Rally held on the 10th anniversary of the pepper spray incident

Student organizations held a rally on the Quad to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the UC Davis pepper spray incident

By EMILY REDMAN — campus@theaggie.org

Students and community members gathered on the Quad on Thursday, Nov. 18 for a rally on the 10th anniversary of the pepper spray incident. In 2011, students and other members of the community joined the Occupy Wall Street movement to protest tuition raises. During this protest, a number of students were pepper sprayed by campus police. 

On Thursday, community organizations set up in front of the Memorial Union with tables, music and screen printing to provide information about the pepper spray incident and to discuss the future of policing at UC Davis.

Protesters march to the UC Davis Police Station on Nov. 18, the 10th anniversary of the pepper spray incident. (Benjamin Cheng / Aggie)

Caitlin O’Flaherty, a second-year sociology major, attended, representing the organization Food Not Bombs. O’Flaherty said their hope for the future is the abolition of campus police. 

“For the event in general we want to make sure that the community doesn’t forget what happened and remind the community that the abolition of [the UC Davis Police Department (UCDPD)] is necessary for protecting our community,” O’Flaherty said.

The organizations present all shared this sentiment of police abolition. Jackson, a UC Davis alumnus and a member of Cops Off Campus who chose not to provide their full name to protect their identity, shared that the organization’s mission is police abolition.

“I think that there is a general consensus among all of the groups that policing needs to change and that in its present form it is not keeping people safe,” Jackson said.

Connor Gorman, a PhD student in the department of Physics and Astronomy, discussed the work in progress toward the larger goal of police abolition. 

“Our main goal is cops off campus, but also more broadly reducing the power of policing and replacing it with systems of real safety, both on campus and

Organizers set off a smoke grenade to mark the start of the rally. (Benjamin Cheng / Aggie)

in Davis and in the country and around the world,” Gorman said.

He expressed that the intervention of police in situations regarding mental health and food and housing insecurity can be ineffective or make matters worse. Gorman shared how the City of Davis is implementing new programs to reduce these risks.

 “We recently won a new department of social services and housing and that will address some of these needs by creating more and more of these kinds of structures in order to create safety and provide resources which as we know actually reduces harmful behavior,” Gorman said.

The events in front of the Memorial Union continued until 4 p.m. at which point the rally moved to the center of the Quad, where the pepper spray incident occurred 10 years ago. 

Protesters carry a cardboard pig to the UC Davis Police Station. (Benjamin Cheng / Aggie)

There, speakers talked about the history of the event and their hopes for the abolition of UCDPD.

In attendance were three students who were at UC Davis during the pepper spray incident, two of which were among those who were pepper sprayed during the protest. Ian Lee, a student who was pepper sprayed 10 years ago, was present. 

UC Davis alumnus Ian Lee speaks to protesters on the Quad. (Benjamin Cheng / Aggie)

Lee spoke about the UC Regents’ role in shutting down the protests by allowing riot police to intervene. Due to the protest’s focus on tuition increases, Lee said that the UC Regents were more inclined to stop the students from protesting.

“The root cause of the pepper spray incident was the UC Regents’ privatization plan,” Lee said. “Privatization of the UC and police violence are linked, one enforces the other.”

The rally then marched to the UC Davis Fire and Police station, taking a large cardboard pig labeled with a statement, “We will outlive policing” as well as signs and posters with anti-police messages.

Protesters put up signs and spray-painted the sidewalk leading up to the UC Davis Police Station. (Benjamin Cheng / Aggie)

“I think it’s really important that we make sure that people understand why policing is not something that furthers our public safety and why we need to see systemic reforms to it,” said Dillan Horton, an alumnus of UC Davis and the chair of the City of Davis Police Accountability Commission.

No UC Davis police officers were present at the rally on the Quad or at the police station when protesters arrived.

 

 

Written by: Emily Redman — campus@theaggie.org

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