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Task Force: No reason for use of pepper spray | News

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Task Force: No reason for use of pepper spray
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DAVIS, CA - At noon on Wednesday, UC Davis released the long-awaited report on the pepper-spraying of student demonstrators by UC Davis police last fall.

Click here to read the report in its entirety

Soon after the report, officially titled the "Reynoso Report" was released, University of California President Mark G. Yudof released the following statement:

"I want to thank Justice Reynoso and members of the Task Force for the long hours and hard work they invested in this effort to fully understand the events of Nov. 18 and to propose remedies that might prevent similar incidents in the future.

"My intent now is to give the Task Force report the full and careful reading it deserves, and then, as previously announced, to meet with Chancellor Katehi and discuss her plans going forward for implementing the recommendations.

"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.

"The release of the Task Force report represents a significant step in that direction, which is why we fought hard in court to ensure that it would be brought into public light in as full and unfettered fashion as possible.

"I also am expecting to receive within the next few weeks the results of the expansive effort, led by UC General Counsel Charles Robinson and UC Berkeley School of Law Dean Christopher Edley Jr., to address how we might better approach protest activities on all our campuses.

"In closing, 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."

During a townhall at Freeborn Hall at UC Davis Wednesday afternoon, Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, the task force chair, summarized what was in the report.

"We find there's a lot that should have happened that didn't happen," said Reynoso.

Reynoso said the pepper spraying happened ultimately because of a breakdown in leadership and communication. He said it was a failure of the chancellor's office, the police chief and the officers at the protest.

"There was no reason, we conclude, to have to use the pepper spray," said Reynoso.

"How did a weapon that they're not approved of for using and that they were not trained in end up in in their hands?" asked one UC Davis professor at the townhall.

The report concluded that the ranking officer on the quad, Lt. John Pike, was not physically threatened. He wasn't even supposed to carry that large canister of pepper spray nor spray it so close to protester's faces.

"That's just not what a well-trained officer is supposed to do. Kroll was relentless in this. They were relentless in telling us how many ways the police department messed up and this was a big one," said task force member Tatiana Bush, and undergrad student at UC Davis.

Students like Geoffrey Wildanger, who was pepper-sprayed Nov. 18, are demanding action, calling for the chancellor and campus police to leave.

"More facts will come out as a result of the lawsuit showing they bear responsibility," Wildanger said. "They need to resign. They need to leave office."

Lawmakers react to pepper spray report

California lawmakers say they will seek more oversight of university police departments after Wednesday's report on the pepper-spraying of student protesters last fall at the University of California, Davis.

Assembly Speaker John Perez, who also is a University of California regent, issued a statement that said UC Davis officials must be held accountable in addressing the report's "very troubling revelations."

Perez's spokesman, John Vigna, says it is too soon to say what form the legislation could take. In an interview, he said Perez likely will focus on addressing problems with police oversight at Davis and other UC campuses.

Democratic Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, whose district includes UC Berkeley, said she would seek reforms of the police departments at all UC campuses but did not specify what recommendations she would target.

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