NEW: Oakland police clear city lot of encamped protesters
UC Davis chancellor sets up task force to look into police pepper spray incident
Newt Gingrich tells protesters to bathe and get a job
DC occupiers want a vacant school building converted for community use
What started as the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York in September has spread across major cities worldwide as a call to action against unequal distribution of wealth.
Here is a roundup of some of the movement’s recent developments:
The University of California at Davis placed two police officers on administrative leave after video of them pepper-spraying non-violent protesters at point-blank range sparked outrage at school officials.
The chancellor of the University of California, Davis, established a task force Saturday to look into an incident in which a police officer sprayed seated protesters with pepper spray at point blank range.
Lida Katehi told CNN’s Don Lemon that she considered the police action on Friday “unacceptable,” but stressed she has no plans to step down.
“We really want to look into this very carefully and take action … make sure that it will never happen again on our campus,” she said.
One of the protesters hit by the spray told CNN’s Lemon that she was still feeling some after-effects Saturday evening.
“I was shocked,” said Sophia Kamran. “When students are sitting on the ground and (have) no way of moving to be violent, being totally peaceful, I don’t understand the use of pepper spray against them.”
On Saturday evening, as Katehi left campus, dozens of students sat cross-legged and with their arms linked in a silent protest. A reporter asked Katehi, “Do you still feel threated by the students?”
“No,” she said. “No.”
DES MOINES, IOWA
The crowd at the Family Leader Thanksgiving forum in Des Moines erupted in applause as GOP president contender Newt Gingrich said the Occupy protesters need to “Go get a job, right after you take a bath.”
“All the Occupy movement starts with the premise that we all owe them everything,” he said. “They take over a public park they didn’t pay for, to go nearby to use bathrooms they didn’t pay for, to beg for food from places they don’t want to pay for, to obstruct those who are going to work to pay the taxes to sustain the bathrooms and to sustain the park, so they can self-righteously explain they are the paragons of virtue to which we owe everything.
“Now, that is a pretty good symptom of how much the left has collapsed as a moral system in this country, and why you need to reassert something by saying to them, ‘Go get a job right after you take a bath.’”
Oakland police on Sunday cleared an encampment set up by Occupy protesters a day earlier in a vacant city lot. The removal took place without incident. No arrests nor injuries were reported, according to a city news release.
“Oakland, not unlike many cities across the country, supports upholding free speech and peaceful forms of expression, but the cost of the encampments is growing and putting a strain on our already fragile resources – police, public works, and other City staff,” Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said in a statement.
The encampment was set up Saturday night when protesters tore down a chain link fence surrounding the lot and put up tents as police watched, but did not intervene.
The lot is in a district of shops and nightclubs, and the new Occupy venue did not sit well with some residents.
“I don’t want it in my front yard, my backyard nor my side yard,” resident Toni Vasquez told CNN affiliate KGO. “This is not the way to do it. This is not the way to do it at all.”
Protesters unfurled a black banner from the roof of the historic Franklin School building Saturday that said, “Public Property Under Community Control.” They vowed to would stay inside until the vacant building was converted for community use. The school, built in 1869, served as a homeless shelter in recent years until it was shuttered in 2008. Protesters say they are against a city plan to sell it for private use.
Officers later led the demonstrators out and placed them in police vans.