UC Davis is Trying to Make You Forget About Police Pepper Spraying Students

The University of California at Davis had an unfortunate incident in 2011. While students sat on campus in a protest, university officers sprayed them with pepper spray. The students were not only unarmed—they were sprayed from point blank distance, for 15 seconds.

If this isn’t horrible enough, UC Davis is trying to whitewash its search results about the incident. The school spent thousands of dollars on a consultant to make the internet forget about the pepper spray incident, according to the Huffington Post. The logic is essentially to erase the scandal from recent memory and things should go back to normal, right?

Not even close.

Like any negative event, the answer isn’t forgetting. It is to remember where things went wrong and to fix them. So here’s the video of the infamous pepper spray incident of Nov. 18, 2011.

According to documents revealed by the Sacramento Bee, UC Davis spent about $175,000 on consultants to clean up the school’s internet reputation, and its chancellor, Linda P. B. Katehi. In addition, the communications budget nearly doubled from $2.93 million to $5.47 million.

Lt. John Pike, the officer pictured spraying the students was put on paid leave after the incident. UC Davis also shelled out more than $38,000 to Pike in workers’ compensation due to the “psychiatric” trauma he suffered after the video went viral—that’s more than the approximately $30,000 each that the three dozen student victims were awarded, according to the Huffington Post.

“We worked to ensure that the reputation of the university, which the chancellor leads, is fairly portrayed,” said UC Davis spokeswoman Dana Topousis, according to The Washington Post. “We wanted to promote and advance the important teaching, research and public service done by our students, faculty and staff, which is the core mission of our university.”

Many experts do not agree with this being the best technique to comeback from the incident. “It is surprising that they thought this could be done without the light of day shining on the act,” Doug Elmets, a public affairs consultant in Sacramento, told the Sacramento Bee. “It is one more example of how out of touch the leadership at UC Davis is when it comes to their public perspective.”

The world shouldn’t soon forget this incident. Students, like any other group, have the right to protest without the fear of being pepper sprayed. That’s just common sense. UC Davis, in the meantime, has some serious public image issues to work on, especially after trying to forget its mistakes.