UC Davis Paid $175,000 To Make People Forget About This Pepper Spray Video

Credit: Louise Macabitas
Credit: Louise Macabitas

In 2011, students at UC Davis gathered in a rally dubbed “Occupy UC Davis” to protest the proposed tuition increase in the university. One of the protests on November 18th led to excessive pepper-spraying of three dozen student protesters by officers that was recorded in a video and went viral.

Records obtained this month through the California Public Records Act revealed that the school subsequently paid approximately $175,000 to contractors to manipulate the search results on Google to divert people searching for the “pepper-spray incident” and reduce negative attention.

This new information has led the UC Student Association, seven state lawmakers, and an abundance of student protesters to call for the resignation of Chancellor Linda Katehi. The Student Association voted on Friday that they would seek the removal of Katehi, but this isn’t the first time that Katehi has been asked to resign.

After the actual pepper-spray incident, even more protesters than those involved in Occupy UC Davis gathered silently to demand that Katehi resign from her position. The UC Davis Faculty also issued a statement that called for the immediate resignation of Katehi and an end to violent police engagement with non-violent protesters.

Credit: KDVS
Credit: KDVS

Katehi apologized to a group of about 5,000 people several days after the incident and claimed that she specifically told the chief of police not to use violence against the protesters.

Katehi stated that no public or student funds were used to pay the contractors that were instructed to divert negative attention away from the pepper-spraying video and the university. The funds seemed to be paid out to several different contractors over a period of two years.

The Chancellor recently came under fire for a different incident last month, where she was found to be acting as a paid director for two for-profit corporations, DeVry Education Group and Wiley and Sons. A sit-in was staged on campus that demanded again for Katehi’s resignation.

The controversy led to Katehi’s resignation from DeVry Education Group and a statement that she would donate all of her stock earnings from Wiley and Sons to a UC Davis scholarship fund. Katehi still earns a six-figure salary from Wiley and Sons as a board member, on top of her $424,000 annual salary as Chancellor.

Chase Caligiuri, a student at UC Davis, said, “She’s incapable of doing her job as a public servant. And as a public servant, we are her employer. Our tuition pays her salary. Our taxes also pay for her.”

Watch the video of the pepper-spray incident below:

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