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Pepper spray: US campus police chief suspended

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Media captionAn officer appeared to spray the protesters at close range

The campus police chief at the University of California, Davis has been put on administrative leave after a crackdown on protesters.

On Friday, video of campus police pepper-spraying peaceful demonstrators went viral on the internet, causing widespread outrage.

Two other campus police officers, who allegedly sprayed the students, are already on administrative leave.

It follows an incident at UC Berkeley when police hit protesters with batons.

The move to place campus police chief Annette Spicuzza on administrative leave was a "necessary step to restoring trust on our campus", University Chancellor Linda Katehi said.

She has announced an investigation into Friday's incident.

The chancellor has also set a 30-day deadline for a school task force investigating the incident to issue its report. The task force, comprised of students, staff and faculty, will be chosen this week.

Ms Katehi has also asked the district attorney's office to investigate her police department's use of force.

The chancellor has, however, resisted calls for her own resignation from the UC Davis faculty association, which described the events as a "gross failure of leadership".

Footage of the pepper-spray incident shows protesters sitting in a line on the floor with their arms interlocked, refusing to move.

They try to cover their faces as officers in riot gear walk along emptying canisters of the spray on to them.

David Buscho, a UC Davis senior, told the Associated Press news agency that he and his girlfriend were among those pepper-sprayed.

"I was sitting there blind, suffocating," Mr Buscho said. "My girlfriend was writhing in pain. I wanted to touch her but my hands were covered in pepper spray."

On Sunday, UC President Mark Yudof said he was "appalled" by the images and that he planned an assessment of law enforcement procedures on all 10 campuses.

"Free speech is part of the DNA of this university, and non-violent protest has long been central to our history," said Mr Yudof. "It is a value we must protect with vigilance."

The protests at UC Davis were held in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement, which began in New York more than two months ago to highlight perceived corporate greed and economic inequality.

Similar protests have since sprung up in other places around the United States and elsewhere in the world.

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