Petition Closed
Petitioning chairperson, University of California Board of Regents Sherry Lansing and 1 other
This petition will be delivered to:
chairperson, University of California Board of Regents
Sherry Lansing
president , University of California
Mark G. Yudof

Ban the use of chemical agents against peaceful protesters at UC

50,338
Supporters

This is outrageous and unacceptable.

At the University of California at Davis, campus police dressed in riot gear sprayed nonviolent protesters with chemical agents. A dramatic video captured the scene. The protesters kneeling. Arms linked. They posed no threat to the officers. The officers standing above them. Dousing them with pepper spray.

Social movements in this country have a long tradition of using civil disobedience to challenge injustice. Protesters with a deep commitment to social change peacefully disobey an order to disperse and the police must make mass arrests in order to end the protest.

What the authorities at the University of California have done is employ the use of chemical agents to stop protesters from exercising their First Amendment rights. They clearly fear that the size, commitment and growing power of the Occupy protests is so great that they will fill up their jails -- not on one day, but every day -- if they want to put a stop to the movement.

Tell Mark G. Yudof, president of the University of California, and Sherry Lansing, chairperson of the University of California Board of Regents, to protect protesters' First Amendment rights to peaceably assemble, and ban the use of chemical agents and/or physical violence against nonviolent protesters on all University of California campuses.

Outrageously, the chancellor of the University of California at Davis, Linda P.B. Katehi, initially defended the actions of the officers but today finally placed the chief of the campus police on administrative leave pending a review. The UC Davis faculty association is calling for Katehi's resignation. 

This is not just happening at the campus in Davis. In Berkeley, Robert Hass, a 70-year-old former poet laureate of the United States and Pulitzer Prize winner, described how he and his wife were beaten by police while peacefully assembling in solidarity with campus Occupy protesters.

In an op-ed piece in the New York Times, Hass notes that the violent actions against peaceful protesters on the Berkeley campus are thrown into particularly high relief as the protests there are taking place where the Free Speech Movement was launched almost 50 years ago, quoting Mario Savio's famous call to action: "There is a time ... when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part." 

The University of California Board of Regents has ultimate responsibility for the actions of authorities at all University of California campuses, including Davis and Berkeley. The president and chairperson of this board must take decisive action to protect the First Amendment rights of student, faculty and the campus communities -- rights that are so clearly under violent attack.

Tell Mark G. Yudof, president of the University of California, and Sherry Lansing, chairperson of the University of California Board of Regents, to protect protesters' First Amendment rights to peaceably assemble, and ban the use of chemical agents and/or physical violence against nonviolent protesters on all University of California campuses.

From Mahatma Gandhi to Martin Luther King, Jr. to Mario Savio, nonviolent civil disobedience is an time-honored form of protest. If authorities allow police in riot gear to simply use chemical agents and violence, instead of arrests, to remove peaceful protesters respectfully decline to follow an order to disperse, then they will not only be taking away our fundamental rights, they will implicitly be encouraging more violent forms of resistance.

The community response to the events in Davis have been overwhelming. In the coming days we may see resignations at the highest level. But what's at stake is not just the job of the chancellor of the University of California at Davis or its campus police chief. It's about whether the right to free speech on campus will endure. That's why we need the President and the Chairperson of the UC Board of Regents to protect the rights of protesters on every UC campus, and to set a precedent for universities not just in California but nationwide.


Letter to
chairperson, University of California Board of Regents Sherry Lansing
president , University of California Mark G. Yudof
The University of California Regents must protect protesters' First Amendment rights to peaceably assemble and ban the use of chemical agents and/or physical violence against nonviolent protesters on all University of California campuses.