Calls for the resignation of UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi have not quieted down despite her public apology on Monday for pepper spraying by campus police of peaceful, non-violent student demonstrators last Friday, November 18th. In fact today – this afternoon – there will be a “town hall” meeting on the campus to discuss the incident, and she has been invited.
The UC Davis Faculty Association called for her resignation, as videos of the pepper spraying went viral. These calls have resonated with student leaders, who have also called on the Chancellor to step down. The campus police chief and two of the primary officers involved have all been placed on administrative leave with pay.
The entire episode has caused tremendous reverberations throughout the UC system, the State University system, college campuses in general, and is resulting in a critical look at the militarization of college police across the country.
The UC Davis Chancellor is definitely nearing resigning. It could be just days – or even hours away.
Meanwhile, hundreds of miles south of UC Davis, here in San Diego, Mayor Jerry Sanders quietly goes about the business of each day, without being disturbed by our local mainstream media questioning him on his ordering of the pepper spraying of his constituents at a Occupy San Diego encampment last month.
On October 14th, San Diego Police – in literally the shadow of City Hall and the Mayor’s office – raided the San Diego encampment at the Civic Center Plaza. Tents and personal belongings were trashed by police, there were 2 arrests that day – but significantly, several peaceful protesters were pepper sprayed by an officer. (The OB Rag called him “Officer Blondie”.)
Police Chief Lansdowne was present that day, afterall he is the chief. But Mayor Jerry Sanders is the top executive (and former police chief) and is presumably gave the order to use pepper spray. But nothing has happened to him since. It’s been over a month since the incident, and no local established media – except some wily blogs – have successfully raised any questions about the Mayor’s handling of the incident. We have definitely not seen on any TV station, a bevy of reporters forcing microphones in front of him, asking questions about the incident.
Not only have there been no serious attempts by local mainstream media to ask the Mayor tough questions about the incident – but nothing has been raised about the entire history of the relationship of the City to the Occupy San Diego demonstrators. Occupy San Diego has been at the Plaza since October 8th. And the Mayor has never met with them or their representatives.
Yes, of course, a chancellor is a chancellor and a mayor is a mayor. And it’s difficult to make a comparison.
But the contrast between these two incidents is so stark, it stands out like a gust of reddish pepper spray against a background of young student faces.
On one hand, you have the chancellor of a state-run and financed institution of higher learning, a campus with 30,000 students and thousands more of faculty, staff, and other employees. On the other hand, you have the publicly-elected mayor of a major city with 1.5 million residents.
And on one hand, you have the chancellor near resigning, and on the other, you have a mayor not even questioned.
Not only that, we have other serious questions to ask the mayor and to date – he has not responded. How much has the Police Department spent on monitoring, harassing and arresting non-violent protesters?
And importantly, what are the police officers – the dozen to twenty who are at the Plaza on a daily basis – NOT doing while they are patrolling the occupiers? What neighborhoods are not being patrolled and what crimes are they not solving?