Tuesday, October 21, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Judge OKs $1 M pepper-spray settlement

By
From page A1 | January 10, 2013 |

SACRAMENTO — A federal judge on Wednesday signed off on a $1 million settlement between UC Davis and Occupy protesters pepper-sprayed or arrested on Nov. 18, 2011.

U.S. District Court Judge John A. Mendez praised both sides for coming to an agreement, the terms of which were first announced in September, calling the settlement “a more than reasonable and quick solution to what could have been a volatile situation.”

The pepper-spraying of seated, unarmed Occupy UC Davis protesters by police sent in to remove a day-old encampment from the Quad drew worldwide attention. Ten protesters were arrested, though the Yolo County Attorney’s Office opted not to file charges citing lack of evidence.

The university will pay $30,000 each to 21 protesters, almost all of whom were students. Another 38 people later came forward to make claims, 15 of which were approved. They will received $6,666 apiece.

UC will also pay $250,000 to cover the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and costs and assist with applying for a records adjustment students who were negatively affected by anxiety attacks or other consequences of the incident.

Mendez said that he believed the university has done “the best job possible under the situation” since the pepper-spraying.

That the agreement calls for the ACLU of Northern California to play a role in UCD’s ongoing work to promote and protect free speech on campus is “only a plus” and showed the campus was taking positive steps — “as opposed to burying its head in the sand and saying we don’t need to make change,” the judge said.

ACLU staff attorney Michael Risher, one of the attorneys who represented the protesters, said that the settlement was “good for everyone involved.” UC has agreed to pay $20,000 to cover the ACLU’s work as part of its effort to improve policies and procedures for handling protests.

“With a big bureaucracy, things never move as fast as we wish,” Risher said. “I think at this point the memory is still so fresh in everyone’s mind that we’re not going to see a repeat of what happened. The danger is that as memories fade, we will, but I’m confident that we’ll get the policies in place to ensure that doesn’t happen and that free speech is truly welcomed on the UC Davis campus.”

UC did not admit wrongdoing in the settlement, which has been approved by the Board of Regents. UC contended that the administrators involved “acted reasonably and in good faith to address legitimate health and safety risks associated with the presence of an unpermitted encampment” — “and not out of any intent to suppress debate and protest.”

By settling, UC avoided a trial that would have been more costly, no matter the outcome. The $1 million being paid out will come from the university’s general liability risk program, a self-insurance fund.

“This settlement marks an important turning point for the university and will help us move forward,” UCD spokesperson Claudia Morain said. “We are committed to making this a better, more tolerant university – one where nothing like this happens again.”

One plaintiff opted out of the case. Attorneys for both sides said they didn’t believe the woman, a recent UCD School of Law graduate, planned to bring a separate suit, but rather that she might be avoiding a potential conflict of interest with the district court.

As part of the settlement, the representative plaintiffs will each receive written apologies from Chancellor Linda Katehi. In an interview with The Enterprise published on the one-year anniversary of the pepper-spraying, Katehi said that she had been giving some thought to what she would write.

“I need to send an important message to our students: An event like that should not being a learning event for some, it should be a learning event for all. I don’t know how I’m going to say that, but that’s how I’m thinking about it,” she said.

In all, the settlement and hiring of outside consultants and investigators have cost UC and UCD upwards of $2 million, not including legal fees for cases involving first the police union and later newspapers over the release of officer names in the reports.

UC has promised it will reform, systemwide, the policing of protests involving civil disobedience. The Davis campus has posted a long list of reforms and possible reforms and their status at http://demonstrationreviews.ucdavis.edu.

Comments

comments

Cory Golden

Cory Golden

The Enterprise's higher-education and congressional reporter. http://about.me/cory_golden
  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Suspected arson fires worry neighbors, firefighters

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Winters homicide case enters jury-selection phase

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

     
    So much more than a cute baby store

    By Bob Schultz | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Fill the Boot for the hungry

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

     
    Existing home sales rise in September

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    For the record

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

     
    Democrats love seeing minimum wage on the ballot

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Pets of the week

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Tax tips offered for sole proprietors

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Apply now for community mediation training

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Paws for Thought: Pets for Vets: matches made in heaven

    By Evelyn Dale | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    ‘Tokyo Kill’ author will visit bookstore

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Sierra Club gathers for morning walks

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    DPNS has play group, preschool openings

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Yolo Knitters Guild plans fall meetings

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Local farm products found at hospital market

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    First-time home buyers get free advice

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Psychiatric clinic hosts open house

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Beer dinner set on Co-op patio

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Walkin’ the Dawg through the park

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
     
    Essay contest winners will be honored Tuesday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Volunteers sought to make veggie bags

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Library hosts after-hours teen movie nights

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Forum eyes impacts of raising the local minimum wage

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    NAMI-Yolo family support group meets Sunday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    To save the birds, look to the fish

    By Kat Kerlin | From Page: A7 | Gallery

     
    Birding field trip planned Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12 | Gallery

    .

    Forum

    Ready to go, whatever happens

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Where there’s a will …

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

    These three are the best

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

     
    Sunder has bold vision

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

    Archer, Nolan are my picks

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

     
    She’s innovative, passionate

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

    An accidental fan becomes a baseball devotee

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    U.N. steps up to lead Ebola response

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

    John Cole cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Sports

    UCD’s Wegener is the engine that drives the train

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Villegas wonderstrike powers Devils

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    DHS golfers take the title

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Devil defense regresses in football loss

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1

    Sports briefs: Top-end tennis talent helps DHS girls grab a win

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Junior Blue Devils: Regular slate ends with 2 Davis teams playoff bound

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    After running the gridiron gauntlet, can UCD regroup?

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B8 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

     
    Stories on Stage Davis presents tales by Lescroart, Montieth

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Peggy Belenis Swisher

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 (set 1)

    By Creator | From Page: B5

     
    Comics: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 (set 2)

    By Creator | From Page: B7