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University of California Reaches a Near $1 Million Settlement in Pepper-Spray Case

Oct 4, 2012 |

The University of California has agreed to pay close to a $1 million settlement to students who were involved in a pepper-spraying incident last year at UC Davis. The settlement will be paid through the university’s self-insurance program.

Each of the 21 students and alumni, who were pepper-sprayed by campus police during what was said to be a peaceful campus protest, will receive $30,000 in damages. The agreement, which must still be approved in federal court, calls for UC to also pay a total of $250,000 to the plaintiffs’ attorneys. A maximum of $100,000 is also set aside to pay up to $20,000 to any other individuals who join the class-action lawsuit by proving they were either arrested or directly pepper-sprayed, reported one of the university’s students.

UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi is also called to write a formal apology to each person who was pepper- sprayed or arrested during the protest.

A video from the protest 10 months ago was released online, showing officers pepper-spraying students at point-blank range, which triggered a national outrage. One plaintiff in the case who was pepper-sprayed, Fatima Sbeih, stated that the incident created a division between students and campus police that still exists today. Students felt as if they were protesting peacefully but met with violence by the authority figures instead.

This settlement ultimately shows that universities throughout the country can be liable for how demonstrators are treated on campus. Another student feels that even though the dollar amount was paid to resolve this case, universities need to instead learn from what has happened. Students do not want to be silenced before they even speak.

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