The University of California, Davis spent “at least $175,000 to scrub the internet of negative online postings following the November 2011 pepper spraying of students,” The Sacramento Bee has reported. University administrators hired a private reputation management firm to eradicate “references to the pepper spray incident in search results on Google,” according to the newspaper.

A campus police officer casually pepper sprayed the students on November 18, 2011 as they sat in a line across a university sidewalk. Video of the incident went viral, and turned into an internet meme. The university was subject to negative publicity for months, and some critics called for the resignation of UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi.

The Sacramento Bee says in its report that the university hired Nevins & Associates, a Maryland company, in 2013 to bury references to the incident in order to counter “venomous rhetoric about UC Davis and the Chancellor.”

The newspaper says it found out about the university’s contract with Nevins & Associates after submitting a request for the information under the California Public Records Act. The paper’s full report is available here.


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