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UC Davis Spent $175,000 To Bury Search Results After Cops Pepper-Sprayed Protestors (theverge.com) 340

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: The University of California, Davis spent at least $175,000 to improve its reputation on the internet after images of campus police pepper-spraying protestors went viral in 2011, according to documents obtained by The Sacramento Bee. The money went to public relations firms that promised to clean up the university's search results. One company outlined a plan for "eradication of references to the pepper spray incident," according to the documents, and was eventually paid nearly $93,000, including expenses, for a six-month campaign in 2013. After that, the Bee reports, the university paid $82,500 to another PR firm to create and follow through on a "search engine results management strategy." The latter firm was later given thousands more in other contracts to build a university social media program, and to vet its communications department.
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UC Davis Spent $175,000 To Bury Search Results After Cops Pepper-Sprayed Protestors

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  • Irony (Score:5, Funny)

    by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Friday April 15, 2016 @08:05AM (#51914407)
    The Streisand effect strikes again. I find it justice that by news outlets reporting that UC Davis paid to cleanse the web of the incident means that people will be reminded of the incident.
    • We all make mistakes. As a person and as an institution. With the internet the mistakes we take come back to haunt us over and over again.
      Never mind the fact that there are a lot of protesters who try to make a martyr out of themselves by walking the line and pushing the peace keepers to their limits, Just to show how bad the people are.
      Bad things are easy to explain and gets people's attention. Good things are often complex and boring. So we now live our lives judged bases on our lives at our worst never

      • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Friday April 15, 2016 @08:34AM (#51914583) Homepage Journal

        I don't know if you saw the picture, but the protesters here were sitting down with linked arms, not in any way threatening the "peace" officer or pushing him to his limit. So while your point may be justified in some contexts, this isn't one of them.

        What I find interesting is that this case highlights the university's complicity with the violent act meted out upon peaceful protesters. Fifty years down the line, without these attempts to scrub the world clean of "that photo", it would have been linked to one bad officer whose employer's fault is giving him the job in the first place. But by trying to whitewash the incident, the university is effectively saying "Actually, this was us, employing violent thugs is policy, not an accident, and we abhor peaceful protest. We believe this so strongly we're willing to spend $175k on rehabilitating the reputations of those we employ to harm others."

        Which is... revealing.

      • Never mind the fact that there are a lot of protesters who try to make a martyr out of themselves by walking the line and pushing the peace keepers to their limits, Just to show how bad the people are.

        Oh yeah those protestors are a real threat to the cop!

        http://ww1.hdnux.com/photos/15... [hdnux.com]

        So we now live our lives judged bases on our lives at our worst never us at our best.

        You know that's always been the case in crime: if someone has a bad day and commits a crime, you judge them on that crime, not how good th

      • Never mind the fact that there are a lot of protesters who try to make a martyr out of themselves by walking the line and pushing the peace keepers to their limits, Just to show how bad the people are. Bad things are easy to explain and gets people's attention. Good things are often complex and boring. So we now live our lives judged bases on our lives at our worst never us at our best.

        Well if you watched the video of the incident (and by your comment it doesn't seem like it), the protestors were sitting down and not threatening anyone. Should they have been arrested and taken away? In my opinion yes they were trespassing. But pepper spraying them before they gave any resistance means force was the first option. It wasn't the only video of police spraying protestors [youtube.com] without any reason.

        • by guises ( 2423402 )
          This is just naive. Some students were arrested and they were being taken away, but the police were surrounded by others who demanded that those arrested be released. Here's [youtube.com] the video. What are they supposed to do there? Ask nicely? They did. Point out that a chanting mob does not get to dictate who can and can't be arrested?

          Pepper spray looks bad, and is bad in some respects, but it's the least dangerous means of force which they can employ. It's less likely to cause injury than a taser, and a lot less
          • by guises ( 2423402 )
            I'm sorry, calling that naive was unnecessarily combative on my part. But I don't know what you mean by "pepper spraying them before they gave any resistance." They certainly were resisting, passive resistance is resistance. And what alternative do you suggest? If the students need to be removed, and they won't leave on their own, then they need to be removed by force. There is no third option, the only thing you can do is make sure to limit the amount of force that you use to the least which is necessary.
          • They can also just pick them up and take them away. Kind of simple Potsy.
        • protestors were sitting down and not threatening anyone

          Blocking public access is not peaceful nor is it non-aggressive . They may not be violent in action, but their intent is an act of violence. To remove them would threaten safety of everyone involved.

          • Blocking public access is not peaceful nor is it non-aggressive .

            Have you read a dictionary recently? Because "peaceful" doesn't mean what you want to re-define it to mean. Second, you apparently didn't watch the video. The protestors were on a sidewalk in a large quad meaning "blocking access" doesn't mean what you imply. That's like you saying I'm "blocking access" in grocery story when I'm waiting in line to pay. People could (and did) go around the protestors.

            They may not be violent in action, but their intent is an act of violence. To remove them would threaten safety of everyone involved.

            What kind of doublespeak is that? If an action is non-violent, it's non-violent. You seem to re-define "non-v

      • fuck your eye
    • Well: they seem to have not been effective, it is on the front page of the BBC [bbc.co.uk] so lots of people are learning about it now. If you want to look good, the best way is to behave well.

  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Friday April 15, 2016 @08:08AM (#51914421) Journal
    Money well spent. [google.com] Bad news spreads faster than the good variety, and its lifespan is in direct proportion to its infamy.
    • That is not what they want to get rid of. They dont want the top results for a "uc davis" image search to show the iconic pepper spray image. It looks like they have succeeded, everything that shows up is pure PR pics. A google search for "uc davis" although bring ups the wikipedia page of the pepper spray incident in the top results. The rest is PR. As the dust settles, I imagine even that wont show up or they will hire experienced wikipedia editors (the ones that know how to stone wall things by using arc

    • Even if you don't live in California a good percentage of the money UC has is from Government grants. You not only paid for the officer pepper spraying people who were sitting and completely peaceful, but you paid for the huge amount of Government propaganda surrounding the incident _and_ the coverup. That you paid for it all should really really piss you off.

  • Once it's on the internet, it is there to stay. Even if you delete it moments later. It's like sending a Recall Message request when you send an incorrect email. You're really just giving everyone on the email a heads up that you screwed up, and they'll probably still have the message to read. And people will read it when they otherwise might have ignored it because they see you're trying to hide it. If you made a mistake, own up to it and it will go away faster than any cover up you can possibly com
  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Friday April 15, 2016 @08:13AM (#51914461)
    They could have submitted a "Right to be Forgotten" request to Google. Oh wait, this isn't Europe. Nevermind.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 15, 2016 @08:13AM (#51914467)
    Know what else is great for your reputation? Not acting like a bunch of fucking assholes. And it's free!
    • Welcome to teh intarWebz [google.com], UC Davis! [wikipedia.org]

      Your employee's casual callousness has earned you a permanent place in the memeverse firmaminment. Deal with it. Just lie back, relax and wait for the next funny cat video to take the internet by storm.

      Sigh.
      The fuckers that tried to cover up the facts should be fired.
      The fuckers that don't understand th webs should be fired.
      The fuckers that squandered taxpayer money covering their asses should be fired.
      The fuckers that gave that scumbag John Pike (pepper spray c
  • by PvtVoid ( 1252388 ) on Friday April 15, 2016 @08:17AM (#51914481)

    ... the fact that Davis tried to bury this in the first place, or that they were gullible enough to flush $175K down the toilet for that kind of scam.

    • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

      ... the fact that Davis tried to bury this in the first place, or that they were gullible enough to flush $175K down the toilet for that kind of scam.

      Is it a scam?

      Give me $175K and I can spend a lot of time creating links all over the place to websites that only show Davis in a positive light. After a while all the negative stories about Davis will have been pushed to the 2nd and 3rd pages of Google's search result. So unless you are explicitly searching for Davis and pepper spray, that means that the story is effectively out of the public eye.

      • Is it a scam?

        You may ask that question if you're just now discovering this, but I've been seeing it for days on G+ and a day or so on FB, yes, it's a scam because it doesn't work. We know it doesn't work because it's not working. Hooray Streisand effect!

        • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

          Yeah .. but are you hearing about the pepper spraying itself or the payments about the pepper spraying? It seems like it is the latter and that nobody gives a rats arse about the spraying itself. Plus, throw some more money at it and eventually even these stories will disappear.

    • I should give them a call. For $200K I could sell them some snake oil that will ensure that future negative PR will just slide off of them to be forgotten forever!
    • The fact that American universities have their own police.

      • by chihowa ( 366380 )

        It's generally not a bad thing. University police are typically much more responsive to the needs of the students and faculty and can pursue and investigate crimes that would be too small for the city's police to bother with.

        The campus cops at every university I've been at were friendly and helpful, which is a stark comparison to the disposition of most police. They more closely resemble the beat cops of many generations ago in that they actually interact with the bulk of the population instead of sitting i

        • For me, as a German, the fact that campus police actually exists, already sounds crazy. But what makes it really batshit insane is the fact is that they are increasingly armed with military grade gear.

      • by Gramie2 ( 411713 )

        I agree. The University of Toronto (85,000 students, many in the heart of Toronto) has campus police. The University of British Columbia (60,000 students) has an RCMP detachment on campus (not exactly the same as the university having its own police. As far as I know, no other Canadian university has police.

      • Why wouldn't they? Many are self contained communities of several thousand resident students, needing a full time dedicated police presence, that the neighboring/host city may not be able to staff sufficiently.
  • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Friday April 15, 2016 @08:29AM (#51914557)

    Hired PR can paper over the effects of an errant email, but if you try to erase a news event, you just spammed Barbra Streisand.

  • by bickerdyke ( 670000 ) on Friday April 15, 2016 @08:38AM (#51914609)

    Your tuition fees at work. Shouldn't that money be spent on a good education?

    • It was spent on good education. The pointy haired bosses learned something.
    • This is America and while we spend more money than pretty much every country in the world on education, its not spent on good education. Its spent on bad administrators.
  • The fact that a no-name college felt it had $175K to burn on PR tells you everything you really need to know about college affordability: there's plenty of fat at the top. Cut that first and maybe people can start buying their education with proceeds from their summer job (and have a little left over for beer) again.
  • And the winner of the annual competition for the Streisand effect trophy is!!!

    • Streisand Effect awards should actually be a thing, just like the Darwin Awards! Who can set up a web site?
  • For those with a short memory or foreigners, here's the Wikipedia page about the incident.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    Especially funny is the following fact:

    "In October 2013, a judge ruled that Lt. John Pike, the lead pepper sprayer, would be paid $38,000 in worker's compensation benefits, to compensate for his psychological pain and suffering."

  • They need to get their money back. I started to type "UC Davis ..." into a search engine and auto complete filled in " ... pepper spray".

    • by neminem ( 561346 )

      Can confirm: I haven't googled UC Davis most likely ever, if I have it's been like 10 years, so my autocomplete shouldn't be colored by anything I've done recently. After just "UC D", the first autocomplete entry is "UC Davis", the second is "UC Davis pepper spray". I'd never heard of the incident before.

      Sounds like a fantastic use of school funds! I bet current students there are super happy to learn that that's what their tuition has been covering...

  • Meet Barbara Streisand.
  • It's probably a good idea to link [wikipedia.org] to [youtube.com] some [go.com] references [huffingtonpost.com] about [kqed.org] the University of California, Davis pepper spray incident.
  • How long until protesters always show up wearing eye protection and gas masks to begin with? As the Boy Scouts motto states, "Be Prepared!"

A physicist is an atom's way of knowing about atoms. -- George Wald

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