Occupy Lawyer: Pepper Spray Report Confirms Police Engaged in “Brutality“

“The report simply confirms what we all knew already…the police actions were brutal and unnecessary,” said Occupy Sacramento lawyer Jeff Kravitz. “As the big banks and the gangster government continue to work hand in hand to take away our First Amendment liberties, we must remain ever vigilant.”

The 190-page UC Davis Pepper Spray Report released at noon Wednesday concluded that the incident shouldn’t have taken place – and questions why pepper spray was used on students peacefully protesting in the student quad last November.

“The overriding conclusion can be stated briefly and explicitly. The pepper spraying incident that took place on November 18, 2011 should and could have been prevented,” the report stated.

In the immediate aftermath of the UC Davis incident, University of California President Mark G. Yudof announced the appointment of former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso to chair the 12-member Task Force that released the report today.

The report blasted the breakdown in communication that occurred between Chancellor Linda Katehi, Police Chief Annette Spicuzza, and police officers throughout the pepper spray incident.

The report said Katehi failed “to express in any meaningful way her expectation that the police operation was to be sharply limited so that no use of force would be employed by police officers other than their demand that the tents be taken down.”

The report also criticized UC Davis Police and Spicuzza’s mishandling of the protesters, describing the “command and leadership structure” as “very dysfunctional.”

“This breakdown is illustrated by the heated exchanges between the Chief and her Lieutenants as to the scope and conduct of the operation and the Chief’s apparent concession that her officers will do things their own way and there is nothing she can do about it,” the document stated.

The report also concluded that Lieutenant John Pike, as shown in a shocking video that became viral on the Internet, used a pepper spray canister that was bigger than those that the UC Davis Police are authorized to use on campus.

The complete report is available at: https://beyondcareer.com/reynoso-report/

Occupy Sacramento attorney Jeff Kravitz, who debated former Sheriff John McGinnis on the pepper-spray incident at UC Davis last fall, said the just-issued report confirms that it was “police brutality” that was the real culprit at the campus when students were sprayed by pepper spray.

“Freedom isn’t free and every generation has to sacrifice to keep our American values strong,” said Jeff Kravitz, a constitutional law professor and civil rights attorney who is defending Occupy Sacramento supporters in court. “These heroic students withstood this police brutality so that they could defend our freedoms on the front line.”

“The report simply confirms what we all knew already…the police actions were brutal and unnecessary. As the big banks and the gangster government continue to work hand in hand to take away our First Amendment liberties, we must remain ever vigilant,” said Kravitz.

UC Davis President Mark Yudof, said in response to the report’s release, “Even a cursory reading of the report confirms what we have known from the start: Friday, Nov. 18 was a bad day for the UC Davis community and for the entire UC system. We can and must do better. I look forward to working with Chancellor Katehi to repair the damage caused by this incident and to move this great campus forward.”

Yudof concluded, “I want to reiterate what I stated at the outset of this arduous but necessary process: Free speech, including nonviolent protest, is part of the DNA of this university, and it must be protected with vigilance. I implore students who wish to demonstrate to do so in a peaceful fashion, and I expect campus authorities to honor that right.”

However, while Yudof said he expected “authorities to honor” the right to “free speech, including nonviolent protest,” the Yolo County District Attorney is now prosecuting on misdemeanor charges 12 protesters involved in the U.S. Bank blockade on campus.

The protesters have been ordered to the Yolo Superior Court on April 27. “They are facing charges of a conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor and a misdemeanor by “willfully and maliciously” obstructing the free movement of any person on any street, sidewalk or other public place,” according to the California Aggie (https://www.theaggie.org/2012/04/02/twelve-u-s-bank-protesters-ordered-to-court-for-misdemeanor-charges).

Last spring, internal UC Davis emails revealed surveillance and infiltration tactics employed by campus officials during campus tuition increase protests.

A Public Records Act request by a UC Davis Student resulted in the release of 280 pages of documents that disclosed a surveillance and infiltration program by university officials to monitor, and shape the protests, and also the narrative reported by the news media, according to the ACLU of Sacramento County. The request was made by student Bryan Sparks for documents dating from July 1, 2010 through December 6, 2010.

“The documents reveal high-ranking administrators, and staff members, and leaders of the campus police department formed a network called the ‘Activism Response Team’ to keep close tabs on student activists, including monitoring student Facebook activity, infiltrating protests and attempting to obtain information about ‘anticipated student actions,’ and individuals involved in the protests,” according to a joint statement by the ACLU in Sacramento and Yolo counties on April 11, 2011.

To read the documents, go to: https://www.aclusac.org/node/346.

In 2010, Katehi joined an “elite team” of twenty college presidents on the “National Security Higher Education Advisory Board,” a committee that “promotes discussion and outreach between research universities and the FBI, according to Dave Zirin in the Nation magazine (https://www.thenation.com/blog/164783/two-scandals-one-connection-fbi-link-between-penn-state-and-uc-davis).