22/11/2011 06:51 GMT

University of California Launches Investigation After Police Use Pepper Spray on Student Protestors

A university is to launch an investigation after a YouTube video showing police using pepper spray to clear student protestors went viral.

The footage shows officers blasting peacefully-seated demonstrators in the face with the chemicals who are shown attempting to cover their faces from the potent spray. The students, from University of California, Davis, organised the protest as a show of solidarity with fellow demonstrators at the Berkley university who were hit by police batons earlier this month.

UC Davis police chief Annette Spicuzza told local press the situation was "volatile" and police took action after being surrounded by the students.

But the body representing academic staff at the university, the Davis Faculty Association, condemned the actions saying the force was "excessive".

"We demand the chancellors of the University of California cease using police violence to repress non-violent political protests."