UC Davis has spent almost $200K trying to erase its shameful pepper spray incident from Internet history

New documents have revealed that the University of California, Davis paid out a lot of money to contractors to wipe away the embarrassing incident that involved students and an overzealous, yet casual cop with pepper spay.

Back in 2011, Lt. John Pike asked a group of demonstrators to leave the campus but none of them complied. Pike then thought it was a good idea to pepper spray the line of peaceful protestors — at close range directly in their faces — and a video of the incident went viral. In a bizarre twist, Pike was awarded $38,000 in worker’s compensation for his “psychological pain and suffering,” adding insult to injury as large protests against the use of pepper spray on campus and the militarization of police got underway.

According to The Sacramento Bee, the school has since gone to great lengths to scrub the incident from the memory of the Internet.

“UC Davis contracted with consultants for at least $175,000 to scrub the Internet of negative online postings following the November 2011 pepper-spraying of students and to improve the reputations of both the university and Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, newly released documents show.”

Documents revealed that 2013, UC Davis signed on Nevins & Associate for a six-month contract for $15,000 a month.

“Nevins & Associates is prepared to create and execute an online branding campaign designed to clean up the negative attention the University of California, Davis, and Chancellor Katehi have received related to the events that transpired in November 2011,” a six-page proposal from the company promised.

The objectives of the Nevins contract included “eradication of references to the pepper spray incident in search results on Google for the university and the Chancellor.”

From the SacBee:

“The payments were made as the university was trying to boost its image online and were among several contracts issued following the pepper spray incident. Some payments were made in hopes of improving the results computer users obtained when searching for information about the university or Katehi, results that one consultant labeled “venomous rhetoric about UC Davis and the chancellor.”

The school’s use of social media was also slated to be revamped, along with a plan to devise a new method for the UC Davis strategic communications office, which, according to the Bee, “has seen its budget rise substantially since Katehi took the chancellor’s post in 2009.”

“We have worked to ensure that the reputation of the university, which the chancellor leads, is fairly portrayed,” said UC Davis spokeswoman Dana Topousis. “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.”

Featured image: Brian Nguyen (Flickr)



  1. Pingback: UC Davis has spent almost $200K trying to erase its shameful pepper spray incident from Internet history | DeadState | lmrh5

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    Simon Peters

    April 15, 2016 at 10:53 am

    Well I think we all have a duty to make sure it remains on the internet, and is as widely seen as possible.

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