Chancellor promises inquiry into police tactics, amnesty for some protesters

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau released audio recording Tuesday apologizing for police actions during Occupy Cal.
Barbara Sullinger/File
UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau released audio recording Tuesday apologizing for police actions during Occupy Cal.

Upon his return from East Asia on Sunday, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau announced Monday that he has appointed UC Berkeley School of Law professor Jesse Choper, former dean of the school and current chair of the Police Review Board, to review police actions during last week’s Occupy Cal protests.

Calling videos of the demonstrations “disturbing,” Birgeneau responded in a campuswide email 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.”

All of the 31 students who were arrested Wednesday were cited for resisting arrest and unlawful assembly, with one student additionally being charged on a count of battery on a peace officer.

Birgeneau said in the email that it was only upon returning from his trip that he could view footage of the day’s events on Nov. 9.

According to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof, it was this additional information and firsthand accounts of the day that prompted Birgeneau to grant amnesty to students.

“It would be wrong to adjudicate cases in the case of student conduct when so much is unknown and uncertain,” Mogulof said.

He added that the chancellor, other administrators and faculty are determined to prevent a repeat of last week at Tuesday’s Occupy Cal strike.

“The events of last Wednesday are unworthy of us as a university community,” Birgeneau said in the email. “Sadly, they point to the dilemma that we face in trying to prevent encampments and thereby mitigate long-term risks to the health and safety of our entire community.”

Student Advocate Samar Shah said Birgeneau’s email shows that the administration understands the circumstances of the movement.

“From my perspective, that’s about as strong of a response they’ve made so far in trying to show that they are listening to everyone,” Shah said.

UC Berkeley senior Jared Romero, who was arrested last Wednesday night, said he is thankful that he is being granted amnesty, but he added that he still does not feel that the administration is adequately addressing the issues that Occupy Cal has brought up.

“He needs to take a stance against all the fee hikes at the regents meetings,” Romero said.

Jamie Applegate of The Daily Californian contributed to this report.

Please keep our community civil. Comments should remain on topic and be respectful.
Read our full comment policy
  • Guest

    Chancellor is not an elected official.  Why should he have any authority to order any arrests or prosecutions? It’s the same as allowing Goldman Sachs to give orders to NYPD or the National Guard.  

  • Student

    Note his wording on the amnesty:  those with other charges or non-Berkeley students who were arrested are still being prosecuted. The fight isn’t over yet!

    • Stan De San Diego

      Those with other charges and/or non-Berkeley SHOULD be prosecuted, since they clearly aren’t just innocent protesters caught up in some police action. Why must some of you people insist in defending people who aren’t really interested in your professed cause (reversing the student tuition increases) but merely professional agitators?

  • Yakuena

    The chancellor earlier claimed that students linking arms were engaging in violence and that the police were “forced” to use their batons.  Many days later after he gets national attention and massive bad press he gets around to watching the protest videos and gets shocked at the footage. Yeah right.

  • http://anonymoustroll.myopenid.com/ anonymous

    If I was chancellor, I would arrest anybody protesting illegally, suspend them from the university, and ban them from campus for the length of the suspension. I would cut all the ethnic studies classes, and institute a hard SAT minimum of 1900 (except for athletes) so we eliminate the back-doors affirmative action that keeps going on, unfairly disadvantaging hard-working Asian students. I would cut the administrative staff that is absolutely useless (vice chancellor for making everybody feel nice, etc.) I would increase funding to the hard sciences, and with the money left over, I would cut tuition. Too bad the man in charge is an idiot lib, only worthy of support against even more idiotic libs.

    • Guest

      While we’re on the wish list, can we also please cut undergraduate enrollment by 30% and do away with JC transfers?

      • http://anonymoustroll.myopenid.com/ anonymous

        I don’t think JC transfers are necessarily a bad idea. Some smart people mature later, but have awful high school transcripts. They should have a shot at Berkeley, but be subject to the same SAT requirements as everybody else. Basically, JC should be a second chance at showing one can put in the minimal amount of work required to get good grades. Requiring them to perform at least somewhat highly on the SAT would eliminate most JC transfers.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WRACM77JT2RXUR3LMGDPPUGUYY Tony M

        I was a JC transfer as I joined the military after high school, then went back to school after I got out. My Math and English SAT scores (which were taken decades ago) gave me the third highest score in a HS with 2600+ students, and I typically scored in either the 98th or 99th percentile on other standardized tests. I was an honor student in my CC and my coursework was math, sciences, and those GE courses I needed to transfer. I was accepted into Cal, made it through the program, graduated and found gainful employment in my chosen field (engineering). Why should I have been cut out when I was able to make the grade? If you want to cut out anyone, how about all the 2-point-something “diversity” recruitees who can’t even make it through a dumbed-down liberal arts or racial/ethnic grievance study program in 5, even 6 years? Those are the ones costing the state and the UC system the most money, because they never even make enough money to pay off their student loans, much less pay enough in taxes to reimburse the UC system for their own education…

  • Guest

    Why is the Chancellor such a raving left wing lunatic?

    Why can’t a University of Berkeley’s stature attract a leader that’s actually balanced and cares more about the quality and reputation of the University rather than pushing  a narrow, personal, political agenda?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WRACM77JT2RXUR3LMGDPPUGUYY Tony M

      You know the answer as well as the rest of us. They want another simpering liberal who can be easily manipulated…

  • Ricardo

    I love how Birgeneau is quickly backpedaling after the torrent of outrage. The guy would throw his own mother under a bus to save his skin. Oh wait, he just threw Breslauer under the bus.

  • Guest

    How about the chancellor’s statement that our campus’ common goals include  “working to repeal Prop. 13″ and “finding a way to reverse Prop. 209″?

    I resent that he has taken it upon himself to declare that the campus community as a whole embraces those goals. In fact, I would be willing to bet that the majority of students here are disinterested in such ventures and would much rather see the administration’s efforts directed toward maintaining the University’s status as a prestigious, world-class research institution.

    • Guest

      I was about to post exactly the same thing.  Could not agree more.  Who is the Chancellor to claim what the campus’ common goals are?  On one side he says he is for “equity and inclusion” and in this statement he categorically alienates a huge section of the student population.

      God, he’s such a tool.  We need someone in here who is going to take the reins and allow Berkeley to finally fulfill its true potential.

    • Matt Alum

      Well technically Prop 13 would get Cal more funding so we could keep up our great status, so I’d say most students wouldn’t be against a previously-existing housing tax that would fund their school

  • Guest

    I wonder if he was in East Asia making deals with corporations to further privatize the university system. How ironic would THAT be?

    • Guest

      I hope that he was.  Unfortunately, it’s probably not the case.

  • nzmrmn

    “Amnesty” implies culpability or guilt of some kind. What were the students and professors who were beaten with nightsticks guilty of? Is linking arms a crime?

    • Anon

      Actually, obstructing police in the performance of their duties _is_ a crime. So, in this case, yes. 

      Then again, jumping up to “appalling brutality” pretty much right away seems like it should also be a crime. Sadly, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for any serious consequences in UCPD.

    • Matt Alum

      For the conduct process, granting amnesty means charges are dropped. And you better bet that professors weren’t stupid enough to link arms and try to disobey police orders.

      So yea, linking arms is a use of physical force… think about it

  • UCMeP

    Why Occupy Cal when you can Mockupy Cal?
    http://ucmep.wordpress.com/2011/11/13/mockupy-cal/

  • Guest

    Birgeneau called the riot police, Birgeneau blamed the protesters for being violent AND BIRGENEAU SHOULD GO!

    This campus needs a chancellor with a backbone.

    • Matt Alum

      Sounds like that is a backbone. Protesters use physical presence and force, following action is to call for police to protect an office building and police hq. He should stay since he’s protecting the best interests of the community and not giving into the violent few.

  • Your Name

    Cal alum here with a quick question. Does anyone know if UCPD is hiring, or at least hiring for reserve deputies?

    I missed out on the fun this time, but want to be ready with my nightstick for the next protest.

    • Webelotom

      I’d happily donate a few $k to the UCPD for a chance to crack some ribs during the next protest.

      • Calipenguin

        You’re a sick fuck.

  • Anonymous

    Robert Birgeneau probably instructed UCPD to prevent protesters from camping on campus and now he’s backstabbing the cops by conducting an inquiry.  Some people just aren’t cut out to be leaders.
     

    • Matt Alum

      There’s an inquiry every time anyone asks for one, so he’s likely required by his job to say there is going to be an inquiry. I’d say he’s a strong leader especially in these times of haters.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WRACM77JT2RXUR3LMGDPPUGUYY Tony M

        I understand your point regarding his initial stance of removing the squatters (and agree with that position), but from what I have seen out of Birgenau, he’s a rather wishy-washy character and has a habit of talking out of both sides of his mouth. I certainly don’t side with the protesters who brought most of this problem on themselves with their own intransigence, but I tend to believe Birgenau’s in full butt-covering mode at present…

  • Somebody

    Too little too late for damage control.  Students got hurt.  Parents got upset.  Lawyers are retained.  Suits are filed.  Looks like some students are getting a scholarship in a form of an out of court settlement.  School remains bankrupt.  Public relations nightmare.  Little known fact: prospective students don’t just look at Berkeley’s pamphlets, they look at video-tube sites and see what really goes on at Berkeley, and then apply somewhere else, further exacerbating the University’s financial situation.  The Chancellor is waist deep this time.

    • http://anonymoustroll.myopenid.com/ anonymous

      Every time you hear from these idiot libs that action x,y,and z by the administration is going to make people apply elsewhere and not go to Cal, yet every year the SAT scores of enrolled freshmen rise, as do enrollment numbers, despite rising tuition.

      What these people don’t get is that beyond a small core of activists, nobody gives a shit.

  • Somebody

    Too little too late for damage control.  Students got hurt.  Parents got upset.  Lawyers are retained.  Suits are filed.  Looks like some students are getting a scholarship in a form of an out of court settlement.  School remains bankrupt.  Public relations nightmare.  Little known fact: prospective students don’t just look at Berkeley’s pamphlets, they look at YouTube and see what really goes on at Berkeley, and then apply somewhere else, further exacerbating the University’s financial situation.  The Chancellor is waist deep this time.

  • Somebody

    Too little too late for damage control.  Students got hurt.  Parents got upset.  Lawyers are retained.  Suits are filed.  Looks like some students are getting a scholarship in a form of an out of court settlement.  School remains bankrupt.  Public relations nightmare.  Little known fact: prospective students don’t just look at Berkeley’s pamphlets, they look at YouTube and see what really goes on at Berkeley, and then apply somewhere else, further exacerbating the University’s financial situation.  The Chancellor is waist deep this time.

  • Five Oh Needs 5150d

    “disturbing”, eh?
    so Mitch Celaya is getting fired or what?
    not like this is the first go round or anything…

    Bob Birgeneau is a compulsive liar.

  • Anonymous

    In this same message the Birgeneau said that he only was able to view the videos yesterday. Anyone else find it hard to believe that it took 4 days for those videos to get the the  CHANCELLOR  of the university?! Especially when it made national news and was shown on such varied programs as the Colbert Report, ABC News, and MSNBC. I don’t believe it for a second.

    • LMFAO

      He was in East Asia you moron.
      It says so in the first sentence of this article, for Christ’s sake.

      • Pooponwanny

        he was in east asia, not a deserted island.

      • anon

        because we all know there’s no internet in japan and south korea

      • Wabbit

        Rumors have it that you can connect to the internet in Korea and Japan. If he was able to send a letter to the entire campus community and state clearly that the demonstrators were violent, (or “not non-violent”) I believe he could also check out Youtube. 

      • anonymous

        I’m a moron? You think that you can’t access internet in Asia. How did he send the first email that started the backlash against him? Do you really think that the chancellor of a major university does not bring a laptop with him on a business trip? I think it’s clear who the moron is here.

        • Webelotom

          Did you think that he might be… I don’t know, BUSY while he was over there, you dumb fucknut?

          • Webelotom

            Oh look, it’s someone impersonating Webelotom.   If you look at his other comments, it’s pretty clear this one is not him.

            Politicians frequently CUT SHORT their trips elsewhere in the world to return to their home state when there is a matter requiring their attention.  Not unreasonable to assume Birgeneau would do the same. 

            So what was he doing in East Asia?  “The Chancellor visited South Korea, where he delivered a keynote address
            at the Berkeley Seoul Cybersecurity Forum. He met with alumni in Japan
            and visited Shanghai to talk at a Biotech forum.” 

            Yes, he must have had a terrible time getting internet access at a Cybersecurity forum. 

            And yes, busy perhaps, but it’s both foolishly naive to believe that he didn’t see the videos until he got back (or didn’t hear about any violence) or reflects terribly upon him that he and his people don’t have their act together enough to make sure he sees when the police are using excessive force against students on his campus. 

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WRACM77JT2RXUR3LMGDPPUGUYY Tony M

            [Politicians frequently CUT SHORT their trips elsewhere in the world to return to their home state when there is a matter requiring their attention.]

            And this isn’t one of them. You protesting students have an unjustifiably high opinion of your own importance in the greater scheme of things. Some professional counseling to deal with your Narcissistic Personality Disorder and delusions of grandeur might be a constructive start to your own intellectual and moral development…

    • Guest

      He was in East Asia.
      It says so in the first sentence of this article.

      • anon

        because we all know there’s no internet in south korea and japan…

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WRACM77JT2RXUR3LMGDPPUGUYY Tony M

          Sorry, but when I have been in Japan (and I have made on average at least one trip per year for nearly 30 years now) I have either been quite busy with work, or involved in other activities that were far more interesting than some squabble back home – and this event was exactly that, one of hundreds of silly, futile little displays of bravado and immaturity that have characterized the political scene at Cal for over 4 decades now. Small potatoes in the greater scheme of things…

          • Trona

            Does bragging about the frequency of your trips to Japan have any relevance what so ever to the topic at hand?
            No…I didn’t think so.

          • Stan De San Diego

            I think it’s more of a statement that when you’re traveling overseas, what’s going on back home may not be of primary concern. That’s not  necessarily good or bad, just a statement of reality. I know when I have been overseas on a work-related assignment, I really didn’t pay attention to what was going on in the home office, nor did I really care. That’s just human nature.

    • Anonymous

      Give him a break dude.  The Internet is in Japanese and Chinese there you know.  Since he’s Canadian he has to get everything translated to French too.

      • guest

        The youtube videos of police violence need no captions.

        • Matt Alum

          Protesters using physical force don’t need captions either. Use violence toward police, violence should be 100% expected right back.

          • che

            you talk about it like you were there, you weren’t. there was no physical violence from the protesters towards police.

          • Super Cereal

            Forming a human chain to prevent the Police form removing illegal tents is a use of force.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6NIWEWNZ5W63A3W6KTYLJ4ZHEI The Gig

    As a student in the early nineties, Jesse Choper was Dean Emeritus at Boalt Hall and, to be polite, quite a relic even then.  I worked as a handyman at Boalt, and he the talking head for the leading law school in the west.  I remember asking him then about themes like gays in the military and imperialism by our leaders.  He had nothing new to add and seemed more like a potted plant, than  a thinker.  I will forgo my contributions to Cal based on Birgenau’s ridiculous comments and attempts to cover his ass.  He needs to quit, and I really don’t care if the door hits him in his broad bottom on the way out.  It’s time we got some fresh blood running Cal and the UC system.  I hope others holding purse strings feel the same and let him know it.

    • LMFAO

      LMFAO @ another penniless jackass pretending they’re “withholding donations” that they were never actually going to give in the first place.

      Nice talking points, moron.

      • http://anonymoustroll.myopenid.com/ anonymous

        Here you are, a respected scholar who was a law clerk to the Chief Justice of the United States, and some handy-man is ranting to you about gays in the military and “imperialism.” Ignoring the crazy man is the most polite thing he could have done.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6NIWEWNZ5W63A3W6KTYLJ4ZHEI The Gig

          On the contrary, Choper was a lonely man unable to figure out his answering machine.  He would call me in to fix things any child might negotiate and then chat about all sorts of things as most of the rest of faculty there ignored him.  I do find it interesting how many anonymous people here are so quick to say I’m making this up, but, then again, I doubt those who are so quick to judge actually graduated from Cal.

          • Completely Serious

            None of the things you’re complaining about are new, yet you’ve only discovered them now, after decades of donating thousands of dollars every year, and are so offended that you’re going to stop donating?

            I call bullshit, sir.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6NIWEWNZ5W63A3W6KTYLJ4ZHEI The Gig

        I am a member of the Charter Hill Society, though I doubt you’ve ever heard of it.  If you’d like to compare contributions to education, send me your email address and I’ll give you a chance to back up your cowardly remarks?

        • LMFAO

          Why don’t you just post your full name and address here, along with a copy of your driver’s license so we can all look it up for ourselves, Mr. Professional Handyman Philanthropist.

  • Robert Birgeneau is a pussy

    Looks like Robert Birgeneau is just as much of an incompetent pussy as Jean Quan.

    Laying down the law HARD is the only way to deal with these anti-cop anarchist fleabaggers.
    If you don’t, you’ll end up with another tree sitting nightmare on your hands.

    • nzmrmn

      “Laying down the law HARD is the only way to deal with these anti-cop anarchist fleabaggers.”

      “Anti-cop anarchist fleabaggers” also known as kids barely out of their teens (if that) studying optometry, accounting, chemistry and English. They were blowing soap bubbles at the UCPD riot cops. The horror.

      • Webelotom

        Wait until the Occupy Oakland addicts and losers show up tomorrow.

      • Matt Alum

        Pretty sure physical intimidation and encroaching on police lines despite police instructions is… well not soap bubbles. Think a little