In 2011, Lt. John Pike of the UC Davis Police doused student protesters in pepper spray about as casually as you would Febreeze your couch. The savagery was caught on camera, of course, and became an object of national outrage—so much so that the university spent a six-figure sum trying to scrub it from Google, the Sacramento Bee reports.
According to contracts unearthed through a Freedom of Information Act request, the Bee shows that the school administration actually, naively thought it could purge a negative moment from Google. Judging by a quick search today, the effort was a total failure:
The 2013 documents show that UC Davis was told consultants would “eliminate the negative search results” and “expedite the eradication of references to the pepper spray incident.” The language used by one of the firms, Nevins & Associates, is extremely creepy: “The negative viral content and videos will be diluted by a surge of content with positive and off-topic subject matter.” In other words, the university planned to spend $15,000 a month in public funds to overwhelm its misdeeds with internet noise, showing an enormous misunderstanding of both the internet and how bad news travels.
Below is a video of the UC Davis police pepper spraying incident for you to view if you’d like, as many times as you’d like: