Call for Accountability for Nov.18th Pepper-Spraying of Peaceful U.C. Davis Students

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November 25, 2011

Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi
Fifth floor, Mrak Hall
University of California, Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616

Dear Chancellor Katehi:

The violent pepper-spraying of peaceful U.C. Davis student protestors on November 18th shocked and outraged us, other Americans, and the rest of the world. It was a flashback to the Mississippi police beatings, fire-hosing, and unleashing of vicious dogs on peaceful African Americans calling for their long-overdue civil rights during the 1950s and 1960s. Unfortunately, a present-day nightmare occurred November 18th on the U.C. Davis campus. The members of the Florin Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), other local community organizations, and friends in the Sacramento/Davis area call for full accountability by all those involved.

Watching those videos clearly show there wasn’t any threat or violence by the students. On the contrary, they were peaceful and passive. They were exercising their American right to protest.

Of all places in our society, shouldn’t an American college campus be where free expression, debate, protest, and even civil disobedience can take place and be respected? Shouldn’t our students be safe from harm here? Doesn’t our American system of democracy, freedom, and openness under our U.S. Constitution protect them? It’s what many other people in the world living under the thumb of autocrats dream about. Isn’t this what we saw during the Arab Spring?

Americans in many of our communities know from history that their voices, rights, and lives can easily be threatened by arbitrary authorities and violence. Chinatowns faced torching in past eras, Latino and Filipino farm workers confronted police violence, American Indians resisted extermination by the U.S. government, American workers defended themselves when attacked during strikes, and the LGBT community often struggled against law enforcement harassment and indifference. Many Americans can tell similar stories. Democracy can be fragile. Americans must be vigilant to protect our freedoms.

The Japanese American community experienced similar treatment. After Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 police and FBI agents ransacked homes of innocent families. After that the U.S. government imprisoned 120,000 in World War II American concentration camps and denied them their freedom of speech, press, and association. Guards shot protestors in the Manzanar camp with machine guns and police beat dissidents with baseball bats in the Tule Lake stockade (a shocking but little-known history documented by local author Barbara Takei).

Our Florin JACL Chapter has a long history of supporting civil rights, civil liberties, and human rights for all people. We have many members and supporters throughout the Sacramento region, including students, faculty, staff and residents of Davis. The shocking travesty of justice at U.C. Davis demands that we and many of our friends speak out today.

We the undersigned call for:

1. Those responsible for the violence, giving orders, or authorizing this type of attack must be held strictly accountable.
2. Any policies allowing violent attacks against peaceful protestors must be promptly changed.

We look forward to you, Chancellor Katehi, taking, decisive action to enforce accountability, making amends to the campus community, and taking firm measures to prevent this from ever happening again.

Sincerely,

Andy Noguchi
Civil Rights Co-Chair, UCD class of 1972

Fumie Shimada
Civil Rights Co-Chair

Marielle Tsukamoto
Florin JACL President

Mary Bisharat
Ryan Chin
-CAPITAL Coalition
Carol Chong
-CAPITAL Coalition
Jerry Chong
-CAPITAL Coalition
Marghe Covino
-Advocacy & Cultural Coalition Taskforce
Basim El-Karra
-Council on American Islamic Relations
Alex and Joyce Eng
-Chinese American Council of Sacramento
Brandon Fong
Leanne Friedman
-UCD alumna and staff retiree
Nancy Griffith
Summer Hararah
-UCD class of 2008; Asian Law Caucus
Stacie Hiramoto
Maurine Huang
Ken and Midori Ito
Keith Johnson
-Advocacy and Cultural
Coalition Taskforce
James and Marion Kanemoto
John Kanemoto
Walter Kawamoto, PhD.
Jennifer and Steve Kubo
David Mandel
-Jewish Voice for Peace
(Sacramento)
Cheryl Miles
Joanne Miyao
Jessie Morris, Jr.
Sarah Moussa
Darshan S. Mundy
-Davis resident; Sacramento Sikh Temple
Keith Muraki
Nelson Nagai
-Stockton J.A.C.L.
Janice Nakashima
Sandra S. Navarro, PhD.
Annie Kim Noguchi
Jane K. Okubo
John Onate, M.D.
Kathryn Otagiri
Anne Rudin
-Former Mayor of Sacramento
Judith Ryan
-UCD alumnus, UCD retiree
Heidi Sakazaki
Ruth Seo
Michelle Fong Snapp
Mike Staley
Rev. Yuki Sugahara
-Buddhist Church of Florin
Namiko Sugahara
Jenny Takahashi
Ernie Takahashi, O.D.
Barbara Takei
Irene Tamura
-UCD class of 1977
Tatsuno
Twila Tomita
Akemi and Guy Turner
-Davis residents
Beth Uno
Rick Uno
-UCD class of 1976
Rev. Dr. Aart van Beek
-Parkview Presbyterian Church
Harry Wang, M.D.
-Clinical Psychiatry Prof., UCD Med School
Georgiana White
Alice Wong
-CAPITAL Coalition
Makiko Yamashita
Hach Yasumura

Organizations listed for identification purposes only

Cc:

President Mark G. Yudof
University of California

Chairman Sherry Lansing
Office of the Regents, University of California

Governor Jerry Brown
President, U.C. Board of Regents

c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173

 

The Florin Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) is a grassroots community organization founded in 1935 in the former Florin farming community of south Sacramento. It is a chapter of the national JACL, the oldest and largest Asian Pacific American civil rights organization in the country. Over the past 30 years, the Florin JACL has actively led efforts for multicultural understanding in the Sacramento region. It has forged successful educational partnerships, reaching thousands of people each year, with California State University at Sacramento; the Elk Grove Unified School District; and the California State Museum for History, Women, and the Arts focusing on the Japanese American experience and its important constitutional issues for all Americans today.

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