UCOP Releases Report on Protests

    The first draft of the report, released May 4, outlines tactics police and administration can use — such as mediation — to avoid escalating potentially violent situations.

    “This report highlights the responsibility, shared by all members of the university community, to ensure that the rights of free speech are respected — in fact honored — and that peaceful, lawful protests exist on our campuses,” UC Office of the President general counsel for legal affairs Charles Robinson said in the UC Newsroom. 

    After a series of heated protests in November 2011, UC president Mark Yudof designated UC Berkeley Law School Dean Christopher Edley and Robinson to identify practices that facilitate free speech while “protecting the health and safety” of the public on Nov. 22, according to the UC Newsroom. 

    Edley and Robinson met with students and faculty at UC Riverside, UC Davis and UC Berkeley in January and February to gather public feedback for the report.

    Two of the report’s goals are to improve trust and communication between the public, police and administrators, and to avoid violence during protests at all costs. For example, the report recommended that the police should avoid wearing personal protective equipment (“riot gear”) and avoid displaying weapons, which may “escalate a situation.” 

    The report contains recommendations for UC police to carry fewer “lethal weapons” and report every instance of officer violence. The report also states that protesters who engage in civil disobedience may face consequences. However, mediation, de-escalation techniques and citation will be used before action is taken to detain protesters.

    “Policies should also make clear, however, that civil disobedience by definition involves violating laws or regulations, and that civil disobedience will generally have consequences for those engaging in it because of the impact it can have on the rest of the campus community,” the report said.

    The protests that inspired the Robinson-Edley report occurred in November 2011, which involved several arrests and violence. The Occupy Cal and UC Davis protests, on Nov. 9 and Nov. 18 respectively, involved the use of pepper spray and batons by UC police against protesters. The police resorted to violence when protestors did not comply with requests to stop their campus encampments, according to the Los Angeles Times and Daily Californian

    On May 4, Edley and Robinson said they will be looking for feedback from the public about the report at the website below. According to the UC Newsroom, they will consider incorporating constructive comments and criticisms into the final report, which will be sent to Yudof in late May.

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