Five months after a police officer became a meme after dousing student protesters with pepper spray at the University of California-Davis, a new report released last Wednesday has concluded that the incident “should and could have been prevented.” The released report documents the result of an investigation led by Cruz Reynoso, UC Davis Professor Emeritus and former Justice of the California Supreme Court, and an appointed task force to review the incident.
The pepper spray was used on those student protesters on campus as UC police officers were arresting students for erecting tents on the campus quad. The student protest and occupation was in response to dramatic increases in tuition and fees, which have nearly doubled in the last five years, and was also fueled by the momentum of the nationwide Occupy movements.
The Reynoso report acknowledges the purpose of the November protest at UC Davis, and also notes that UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi was worried about the large number of non-student protesters occupying the UC Davis Quad. Chancellor Katehi, the report says, “did not effectively communicate” her expectations of the university police when she sent them to remove protesters’ tents:
When decisions were made, they were not sufficiently articulated. As a result, the decisions were not fully understood, or the decisions were understood to mean different things to different people. For example, when the Leadership Team decided that the police operation should not be “like Berkeley,” Chancellor Katehi understood this to mean “no violence,” while Vice Chancellor Meyer understood it to mean no batons and believed that “hands-on” use of force by police was acceptable.
(Much more after the jump.)