Top Must-Know Facts About the UC Davis Pepper Spray Incident
If you’ve heard one thing about the Occupy movement, then it probably was about the UC Davis incident. This incident caused a discussion that spread across the country, far beyond the little northern California college town in which it happened.
But with news sometimes the details get a little fuzzy, especially when conjecture is getting thrown around. So what happened? What happened after? And what do I think about all of this? I’m glad you asked, haha!
Here’s everything you need to know about the UC Davis Pepper spray incident.
The Occupy movement wasn’t just for New Yorkers sitting in on Wallstreet, a lot of college students mobilized as well. The Occupy movement centered around inequality socially and economically, so naturally, students used this movement as a way to express their feelings on budget cuts and tuition hikes.
Students had seated themselves on a paved path through the quad on campus. They were peacefully protesting, but that wasn’t going to fly. After being asked to move several time by police – in full riot gear – Lt. John Pike sprayed students in the face with pepper spray. Officer Alex Lee followed suit.
The video of Lt. Pike spraying students almost instantly went viral, and there was an immediate backlash from the students and the rest of the country.
What happened after
Understandably Pike was fired. People also suspect that Lee was fired too after not being listed a salaried employee after 2014. While Pike was fired, he received $38,000 in workers compensation for an unspecified mental disability and kept his retirement benefits.
The good news is that the students each we rewarded $30,000 in a civil suit from UC Davis.
The chancellor of the school insisted that the police acted against her wishes for there to be no arrests or violence. However, the students had lost their trust in their school at that point.
This incident sparked a discussion about the militarization of police and if pepper spray should be used at all on college campuses for instances like this. Students began protesting the police soon after, so if the cops were looking for some quiet after Occupy they weren’t going to get it.
Many people were in the camp that this use of force violates the first amendment as the people are guaranteed the right to assemble peacefully.
What went wrong in my opinion
I went to college, and when you go to college, there are usually a ton of protests. I was in school during an election year, I was in school during the women’s march, and I seemed to be on campus every time an evangelical preacher came to yell at us with a megaphone. There are protest all the time on college campuses.
In my experience, the police did their job. They made sure that things stayed peaceful and didn’t intervene unless a student or another person was in danger. Davis did not do this here.
When it comes down to it, college campuses should be a place for debate and open expression. Colleges usually encourage this type of discourse, however this time the college failed to protect their students… instead they attacked them.