Police Shut Down Cal Protest

After initially siding with police, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau has condemned the police brutality toward students that took place at an “Occupy Cal” protest last Wednesday, Nov. 9. Campus police in riot gear used batons to violently beat several protesters who had supposedly broken the university’s rule on “no encampments,” he said.

UC Berkeley sophomore Zoe Weiss said she felt that students were unfairly treated by the administration and campus police.

“While it is true that setting up tents on the Berkeley campus is illegal, beating unarmed, non-violent college students with batons because they refused to move from their encampment is horrible and inexcusable,” Weiss said.

Birgeneau initially sent an all-campus email on Nov. 10 stating that he supported Berkeley police in their efforts to control civil disobedience.

“It is unfortunate that some protesters chose to obstruct the police by linking arms and forming a human chain to prevent the police from gaining access to the tents,” Birgeneau said in the statement. “This is not non-violent civil disobedience.”

Birgeneau retracted this statement on Nov. 14 in a second all-campus email in which the chancellor said he was out of the country at the time and had not seen footage of the police brutality when he sent the initial email.

“It was only yesterday that I was able to look at a number of the videos that were made of the protests on Nov. 9,” Birgeneau wrote in the Nov. 14 email. “These videos are very disturbing.”

In the second email, Birgeneau stated that the former UC Berkeley Dean of Law Jesse Choper will immediately review and assess the incident.

Weiss said that Birgeneau has since granted amnesty to those arrested.

“We believe that we can best move forward by granting amnesty from action under the Student Code of Conduct to all Berkeley students who were arrested and cited solely for attempting to block the police in removing the Occupy Cal encampment on Wednesday, Nov.  9,” Birgeneau wrote. “We will do so immediately.”

Weiss emphasized that protest tactics have visibly changed since the Nov. 9 incident.

“A lot of protesters have shifted their attention from their original goals to that of the police violence,” Weiss said. “Obviously, these acts need to be addressed and dealt with, but I think that it’s also important to keep in mind that, as students of the UC system, budget cuts and tuition increases directly affect us, and that message needs to remain strong within the protest.”

UCSD Vice President of External Affairs Samer Naji said that he believes that the administration and UC Board of Regents need to be held accountable for last Wednesday’s incident.

“It’s absolutely unacceptable,” Naji said. “There is no excuse to justify what police did to peaceful students.”

Naji added that he believes this will spur additional activism at all UC campuses.

“Any time police attack protesters, it galvanizes the movement,” Naji said. “I know we surprised the administration this year with the amount of activism that’s present at UCSD. I don’t see the activism
going away anytime soon. It’s only going to increase. It’s only getting stronger.

Naji proposed a resolution to A.S. Council condemning the police brutality at UC Berkeley. The resolution passed on at council’s meeting last Wednesday, Nov. 11.

More to Discover
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$210
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$210
$500
Contributed
Our Goal