Pepper-Spray Debacle Prompts UC President to Order Police Review

Stating that he's "appalled" by Friday's pepper-spraying of peaceful University of California-Davis protesters—an incident that sparked public outrage (and led to two three cops being placed on paid leave)—UC system president Mark Yudof has ordered an urgent review of police procedures at all 10 UC campuses. Good!

According to the LA Times, Yudof's order was prompted by the Davis debacle and a November 10 incident in which police were filmed beating Berkeley students with batons. In a statement made available on UC's website, Yudof states that he'll convene the 10 UC chancellors for a discussion on "proportional law enforcement response to non-violent protest." Free speech advocates might find his closing words especially encouraging:

"Free speech is part of the DNA of this university, and nonviolent protest has long been central to our history," Yudof said. "It is a value we must protect with vigilance. I implore students who wish to demonstrate to do so in a peaceful and lawful fashion. I expect campus authorities to honor that right."

Yudof is a law professor and expert on First Amendment issues, so his background will hopefully serve him well as he sets about trying to implement some kind of plan that involves a more reasonable approach to protecting students' freedom of expression than "spray those suckers."

In other UC Davis news, silent protest muse Chancellor Linda Katehi is supposed to meet with both students and faculty this afternoon at separate meetings, host a student forum on Tuesday, and ... burn some aromatherapy candles on Wednesday? Though her own statement about Friday's attack placed some of the blame on the students, a statement posted to UC-Davis's website on Monday morning announces that she's called upon the local district attorney's office to investigate the police department's use of force. It also mentions that school police chief Annette Spicuzza has been placed on administrative leave.

Showing decisive action was fairly critical for Katehi and her job security. Both students and faculty called for her resignation based on her handling of Friday's events, criticizing her "gross failure of leadership." This morning she went on Good Morning America to defend herself—"the university needs me," she said. She also complained that the school had tried for "many, many days" to dismantle students' tents (giving up blaming behavior is hard!) and to reiterate how "horrible" the incident was, in case we all forgot.

[LA Times, Davis Enterprise. Image via AP]