Washington, Nov 22 (IANS): As a crowd of thousands protested over police using pepper spray against Occupy protesters at University of California Davis last week, the university chancellor apologised and placed the camp police chief on leave.
"I am here to apologize," Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi said through a microphone after climbing onto a small stage erected on the university's "quad" for Occupy supporters Monday, according to CNN. "I really feel horrible for what happened on Friday."
Video of police pepper-spraying nonviolent demonstrators at a sitting protest Friday on the Davis campus has sparked widespread criticism, including calls for Katehi's resignation.
"If you think you don't want to be students in a university like we had on Friday," Katehi said, "I'm just telling you I don't want to be the chancellor of the university we had on Friday."
The statement triggered cries of "Resign!" from the crowd.
The university said it has placed two police officers and the police chief on administrative leave in the wake of the incident, while officials investigate officers' use of pepper spray against protesters.
A group of about a dozen protesters sat on a path with their arms interlocked as police moved in to clear out a protest encampment affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement Friday.
Most of the protesters had their heads down as a campus police officer walked down the line, spraying them in their faces in a sweeping motion.
The Davis Faculty Association, citing incidents at other campuses, demanded "that the chancellors of the University of California cease using police violence to repress nonviolent political protests."