Davis, CA – Protesters vandalized the University of California – Davis (UC Davis) police department’s sign and other areas around it during a demonstration in November commemorating the 10th anniversary of what is colloquially known as “the pepper-spray incident.”
The incident that the protesters were celebrating occurred on Nov. 18, 2011 when UC Davis police officers deployed pepper spray at a group of students who were peacefully demonstrating, the Daily Democrat reported.
The protesters were part of Occupy UC Davis and were protesting tuition increases at the university, the SFGate reported.
Students were told to leave the area multiple times and when they failed to disperse, more proactive measures were taken.
Now-former UC Davis Police Lieutenant John Pike was filmed deploying orange pepper spray on protesters for about 15 seconds.
The police union said that Lt. Pike received more than 17,000 angry or threatening e-mails, 10,000 text messages, and hundreds of hateful letters after the video became widespread, the SFGate reported.
The lieutenant ultimately left the campus police force in July of 2012.
In 2013, UC Davis paid $3 million to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit with three dozen protesters who claimed to have been pepper sprayed by Lt. Pike, the SFGate reported.
Later the same year, the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board awarded $38,055 to Lt. Pike to settle “all claims of psychiatric injury specific or due to continuous trauma from applicant’s employment at UC Davis.”
The UC Davis Cops Off Campus activist group planned a rally in November to celebrate the anniversary of the pepper-spray incident, KRCR reported.
Show up 11/18 on the quad at noon for these cool buttons, free stickers, art making, sidewalk chalk, screen printing, way too many zines, free food and coffee, music, dancing, skill shares on first aid and know your rights, and more!
Then, stay for a rally and march at 4pm! pic.twitter.com/V463QLVigD
— UC Davis #CopsOffCampus (@UCDavis_COC) November 12, 2021
“A group marched from the campus center to the Police/Fire building. Protesters let off a smoke device outside the building and spray painted a sign. The protest dispersed about 5:30 p.m.,” UC Davis said in a statement afterwards.
The university also sought to refute social media rumors that UC Davis had defunded its police department, KRCR reported.
“Meanwhile, there have been some erroneous news reports that UC Davis had defunded the police department. That is not true,” the university’s statement read.
“Despite media reports, UC Davis is not eliminating its police department,” the statement continued. “In fact, UC Davis has spent the last decade listening to our campus community and learning how to create an environment where everyone feels safe and welcome. Over the last four years particularly, the UC Davis Police Chief has been the primary driver and leader of positive change, in collaboration with students, staff and faculty.”
In fact, the statement said that university police had added more training and additional officer positions.
Campus Reform obtained pictures posted to the UC Davis Cops Off Campus Instagram account after the protest that showed the sign outside the school’s police and fire department had been vandalized with paint.
One picture, which has since been removed from their account, was captioned “looks like folks were busy on Thursday.”
The pictures included anti-police slogans such as “f-k 12” and “ACAB” graffitied across campus property, Campus Reform reported.
The UC Davis College Republicans condemned the vandalism.
“We actively condemn these acts of vandalism across campus at the Cops Off Campus rally,” club chairwoman Jenna DiCarlo told Campus Reform. “These radical, left-wing students do not speak for us nor the rest of the community who support our police and want them to remain present on campus. Police are here to protect us, and it is imperative that they stay on campus in order to do so.”