A 1972 Mount Shasta High School graduate who’s now a news photographer for CBS was the only professional on scene at the now-notorious UC?Davis pepper spraying incident.

A 1972 Mount Shasta High School graduate who’s now a news photographer for CBS was the only professional on scene at the now-notorious UC?Davis pepper spraying incident.

Dennis Marin was standing between the “Occupy UC Davis” student protesters and the campus police Nov. 18, and captured on video the point-blank pepper spraying of several students, which set off a national debate about how far law enforcement should go to disperse peaceful demonstrators.

Though he witnessed the entire incident, Marin said he doesn’t have an opinion one way or the other.

“As a photojournalist I observe, capture, and let my camera and the images do the talking for me,” Marin said. “I believe people can draw their own conclusion from the video.  I will say this, however. In covering other protests during my career (Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, Redwood Summer protests in Eureka, and the blockade protest at Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant) I have seen much more intense situations as well as a lot less.”

Marin said he filmed 35 to 40 campus police surrounded by 300 to 350 screaming students. The officers were wearing helmets with shields and vests. Some were carrying paint ball guns, and students were chanting, “don’t shoot students!”

Marin said the students were staging a sit-in on the sidewalk to prevent officers from taking arrested students to their patrol cars.

Marin filmed the completely surrounded officers going back and forth deciding  what to do, and saw Lieutenant John Pike kneel down in front of the students, who had their arms linked and refused to leave.

“From what I could hear, he told them to move, and if they didn’t, he couldn’t guarantee what would happen when they were moved... they got their warning, and then five or 10 minutes later, they started with the pepper spray.”

Marin was so close, he was hit by residual spray blown in the wind, and was “pretty messed up” for five or six minutes, he said.

As the crowd screamed in alarm and chanted, “shame on you,” the sitting students withstood the spray for several minutes before the campus police pulled them from the sidewalk to allow a patrol car through. After they were moved, Marin said he and the reporter met up for interviews with them. Many said they felt the pepper spraying was an unnecessary action because the protest was peaceful.

Marin’s video can be seen at the CBS13 Sacramento website, by going to http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2011/11/20/uc-davis-chancellor-condemns-use-of-pepper-spray-officers-placed-on-leave/

Other videos of the incident, taken on student cell phones, are circulating on You Tube and other media outlets.
Marin can be seen in several of the You Tube videos filming just feet from the students as they were being pepper sprayed – a tall, blond man wearing green shorts and a green jacket.

Marin has been a photojournalist for 35 years. He graduated from College of the Siskiyous in 1974, then transferred to San Jose State where he got a degree in broadcast journalism. He worked for an NBC affiliate in Fresno for seven years before moving to the CBS Sacramento affiliate CBS13.

Marins’ mother and father still live in Mount Shasta, and he comes to visit whenever he can. Though he lives in Sacramento, “My heart’s still up there,” he said.