Protesters to file lawsuit against UC Berkeley over violence and arrests

BAMN attorney Monica Smith spoke at Monday afternoon's press conference, where it was announced that a civil suit will be filed against UC Berkeley.
Rashad Sisemore/Staff
BAMN attorney Monica Smith spoke at Monday afternoon's press conference, where it was announced that a civil suit will be filed against UC Berkeley.

Fourteen of the protesters who attended Wednesday’s Occupy Cal demonstration have agreed to file a civil suit against UC Berkeley and UCPD, as well as the Oakland Police Department and Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.

Attorneys for BAMN, a national pro-affirmative action group, intend to file the lawsuit by next week on behalf of protesters who either experienced violence or were arrested despite claims of remaining peaceful at the demonstration.

The group held a press conference on Monday afternoon on the steps of Sproul Hall to announce the lawsuit and call on Chancellor Robert Birgeneau to resign.

According to BAMN attorney Monica Smith, the civil suit will seek compensatory and punitive damages from the university “because of these horrendous actions.”

“We are not going to let the police, this university, this city or this state get away with brutalizing and taking away the First Amendment rights of student protesters,” Smith said.

Yvette Felarca, a UC Berkeley alumna and the Northern California organizer for BAMN, who spoke at the press conference, was featured prominently in the viral YouTube video highlighting the violence that occurred on Wednesday and would be a plaintiff if the case is filed.

“The treatment that we received for taking a stand in a peaceful protest … were blows, bruises, cracked ribs, injuries, being beaten in the head and stomach, and we are all very lucky that the injuries we sustained weren’t worse,” Felarca said.

At the press conference, eight students gave testimonies of their experiences with police on Wednesday. Each had similar stories of being physically assaulted but different reactions to the pain they described.

UC Berkeley graduate student Alex Barnard gave an account of how jabs from police batons fractured one of his ribs. He said that when he put his hands up and asked to be arrested to stop the beating, he was thrown to the ground.

“On Wednesday, I knowingly violated university policy by setting up a tent on the lawn,” Barnard said. “I didn’t deserve to be beaten for it, but I am nonetheless prepared to accept the disciplinary consequences of my actions. And so I say to Chancellor Birgeneau — I’m willing to face the consequences of my actions. Are you?”

Ferlarca said the police’s actions did not scare students away from Occupy Cal, instead galvanizing them to add their support to the movement.

“All I can say is, Birgeneau, you’d better look out because we already got the UC regents to cancel their meeting on Wednesday, and that’s a victory,” she said. “We’ve already forced you to grant amnesty for student protesters, and that’s a victory, so we’re not stopping. We’ve got a whole list of demands that we’re fighting around, and we’re going to keep fighting till we win.”

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  • Brien A. Martin

    What about the civil rights, freedom of assembly and free speech right of the College Republican’s and their invited guest speaker?

  • Philmelnick

    Is BAMN and the Occupy movement ready to engage in a national dialogue on the ‘Future of American Democracy”  with Young Republicans ?   May we have a reply
    from Ms. Yvette Felarca  or  attorney Monica Smith ?   By all means, let us begin.

    Philip Melnick
    Shawn Lewis,  college Republicans
    Shawn Lewis, Berkeley College Republicans 

  • These cops should fine a new job…..the system is made to fail them but they are too dumb to realize that. 

  • Guest

    I see the anti-OWS trolls are alive and well on the Daily Cal!

    First you want to take away their rights to free speech and the right to peaceful assembly.

    Now you want to take away their right to bring civil action too?

  • Guest3000

    Really, nice reporting Daily Cal. One shouldn’t have to use a search engine to learn the acronym. BAMN: By Any Means Necessary. I know Cal’s journalism school is better than that. I wish the Daily’s editors were, too.

  • Guess
  • Toronto1954

    i believe the problem is not a requirement for new round of tribalism and affirmative actions in UC, the real problems is inadequate retirement and other benefits of the  UC staff ,billions more on exotic UC benefits means billions more on tuition paid by middle
    class students.My friend from Russia works as programmer for UC Berkeley and she told me that UC is very similar to former Soviet Union,you can do nothing for years and keep your job,if you didn’t use n… word you are OK for Berkeley forever.But in USSR she made
    $1200 per year only,her salary in Berkeley is $105000 plus all possible in the world benefits and super luxury retirement.Her husband for the same work in a private sector
     makes $32000 without  retirement and any benefits.UC spends as a drunk sailor in port.
    that is problem,UC spending is rising seven times faster than US inflation last 20 years,
    but education quality is going down year by year, faculties with Nobels change nothing for undergraduate students education

  • Guest

    I’m a student who SUPPORTS Occupy Cal and the Occupy movement, but this is absolutely ridiculous. We are protesting the DEPRIVATION of resources available to UCs….and now these students and attorneys want to further exacerbate the funding problem with a lawsuit? Way to absolutely miss the point and hurt the cause. Unless they agree to return all awarded damages to underfunded academic programs at the UCs (thus reinvesting the money in the schools), this is clearly nothing but greed. 

    • Sam

      I respect your criticism, but did you consider that this is about more than money now? That there is no other recourse in our society when civil liberties have been threatened but expensive lawsuits? And that this will keep a media spotlight on the problem of underfunded education, reminding taxpayers, government and UC Regents to stop disinvesting in the future by crippling students with loans they struggle to pay back?

      • Super Cereal

        What civil liberties have been threatened, Sam?
        Pitching tents without permission on private property or in public parks is not a civil liberty.

        • Anonymous

          “Super Cereal”:

          right….like it’s really all about the tents anyway.

        • I was hit with a baton during the events on Sproul.  

          I did not set up a tent.  I was not physically obstructing access of anything.  I had complied with all police orders that I heard.  My best guess is that I annoyed an ACS deputy by using the flash on my camera.   Photographing a police officer in the performance of their duties – especially on property that I have a legal right to be on – is a civil liberty, and it has been actively infringed upon by the actions of UCPD and ACSO in these incidents.

          Please note that I am posting under my real name. 

          (I’m unlikely to remember to come back to look for responses here.)

        • Jack

          The right to protest Super Cereal, in case you didn’t know its part of whats left of our constitution, its so important it was made the First Amendment, and this property is PUBLIC property Super C, not Private Property… it seems throughout our history the children have to fight for all of us, and many like you just don’t get it…but then again, I don’t expect everyone to understand its to complicated for those whose intellect have been impaired by TV…

      • juanfer

        More than money? this is all about money you retard.

        • Shortsighted. If its about money, it’s about the macro; nationwide economic conditions, not the UC system. The UCs operate a vast budget, are broke for MANY reasons. This lawsuit is not even a drop in the bucket. 

          If you don’t see that, you’re the retard. 

      • Anonymous

        Exactly Sam. The only language that UC Berkeley and the UC Regents speak and understand is money. So let’s start speaking their language.

      • Guest

        I see your argument, but if the goal of this lawsuit is about keeping the spotlight on these issues and NOT about greed, then surely the parties bringing suit will have no problem signing a contractual agreement to give any damages awarded back to academic programs at the UCs. 

        • Did you see the videos?   Young girls violently punched in the stomach repeatedly with a metal club?  Women bashed across the ribs with a club?  A woman yanked by her hair and pulled across the lawn about 10 feet?  and NONE of them were doing anything in any way threatening!  

          If they get money from this lawsuit, they will need to: 1) pay their medical bills; 2) pay for lifelong pain and problems caused by these injuries. Some will probably encounter trouble with future pregnancies due to the horrific beatings; 3) pay for mental health counseling to get over the trauma of being attacked by this pack of monstrous Darth Vaders; 4) pay for needed transfers to other schools for those too traumatized to be in this institution;   5) pay their lawyers; etc.

          Why on earth would those who suffered such injuries and mental damage in such a horrific attack have to donate their money?  What on earth is wrong with you to suggest such an inane thing?  Just reading that makes me SICK.

          • Jack

            You did well Sue, some people are just to ignorant to understand…

    • Guest

      “I’m a student who SUPPORTS Occupy Cal and the Occupy movement…”

      Hi “Guest.” No you’re not. Don’t BS and BS’er.

      • Guest

        Hi “Anonymous.”
        Are you trying to say that I’m not a student or that I don’t support the Occupy Cal movement? I’m a law student and considering the fact that I skipped all of my classes today to volunteer as a legal observer during the march, I would have to say you are pretty far off. Regardless, ad hominem much? 

        • I believe you are lying on all counts.  I am a lawyer, which means I attended law school.  I know that law students are not allowed to “skip classes” for any reason.  I call Troll.

    • Jack

      These lawsuits are necessary to punish the out of control state officials and police, and those injured are entitled to be compensated for the pain and suffering they went through, that is the only way to stop this brutality, to make them pay that is what hurts them, the movement will gain what you seek, this won’t hurt the campus, but it will send a strong lesson that you, “we” won’t put of with their unlawful conduct and abuse of authority 

  • Bear

    What the protesters are doing here is distorting one very basic fact:  they were using physical force.  Doesn’t mean they were being “violent”, but what this all hinges on is the use of PHYSICAL FORCE.  For anyone who disagrees with these tactics, let that be your keyword, here: “PHYSICAL FORCE”.  This is true for all of the occupy protests as well.  Seizing and “occupying” a public space, effectively turning it into your own private domicile, is quite an aggressive act.   It is certainly physical and, in fact, borders on violent.  When protesters trigger fire alarms tomorrow, and they will, they are physically disrupting class.  

    Back to the topic at hand: the arrests at Sproul.  Getting arrested is part of civil disobedience, and you have to accept that.  What you don’t have to accept is excessive use of force.  But were the police “excessive”?  Well, not if you’re not physically resisting arrest.  

    I’ll tell you what, an answer to this question would satisfy me.  In fact, I’ll forever keep my foot in my mouth if someone can satisfactorily answer this question: if you are indeed doing something illegal and are being physically noncompliant with an arrest, what would be an acceptable method for police to wrestle you into submission?

    When answering this question, keep in mind that while you do have the freedom of speech under the first amendment, you do not have is unhindered freedom of expression.  I mean, c’mon, if I legally had unhindered freedom of expression I can’t even begin to list the outrageous things I’d be pulling off.  

    • F*** Gandhi.   Making salt was against the law.  He broke the law.  The Brits should have just shot him and the rest of the low-life Indian scum with them.  If they had,  they’d still have their empire.

      • Bear

        Jesus, you’re not quite serious, right?  Was this supposed to be a measured response to my comment?  Let’s try this again without all the n-words, eh?

      • Bear

        I mean really, dude, even in sarcasm, let’s take this previous comment down, it’s really indecent.  How about a discussion instead? 

      • Guest

        For those of you who don’t know his screed, this is the bigot African American Joseph Anderson once again pretending he is a white racist. Anderson, a true hater, does this shit all the time and it is easy to spot his handiwork. Don’t pay any attention to this Louis Farrikan wannabe. He is an attention addict and you shouldn’t take him seriously and feed his infantile need to be noticed.

        • sachin border

          Kent freaking racist Thomas!!. As the old saying goes “Everybody can and should go to school but not everybody becomes a literate!!”.  You are one of the millions who cannot reason under pressure. Welcome to earth. We had every option to kick some Brits ass who were ruling our country. Even then we were better in following civil laws than you do right now. Its mine (Indian) and our peoples land and salt. We might as well damn burn it before paying taxes to white folks like you. Read history learn to have a little grain of humility. 

    • Anonymous

      Hey Bear, the “protesters using physical force” was the same lame excuse that Capt. Margo Bennett initially gave to justify the brutality against the protesters. Since then, the whole campus community has decried this excuse as an EPIC FAIL. 

    • When the act of unlawfulness is nonviolent, the police should just retreat and wait.  The actions of the protesters posed no threat of damage to any property or any person.  They were simply setting up some tents on the campus of their own university.  That in itself should not even be a problem.  

      Any university should say to a nonviolent protest: Fine, this is your university.  However, only students should be allowed to protest on the campus; outsider should not be allowed.

      I am a little concerned that a woman organizer was there from the same organization that is filing the lawsuit.  I think her name is Yvette Felarca (Sp?).  The police treated her especially violently – which is never acceptable, no  matter what she was doing.  However, I DO have to ask if she was there as a provocateur.

      There are many questions.  One thing that is not in question is that the protesters were nonviolent and the police were shockingly horrifically violent.

  • Anonymous

    However, the police (or rather UC in instructing the police) may have been in violation of the US Constitution, which trumps the Cal. Penal code.  Read up on the 1st Amendment’s Freedom of Assembly clause.  Letting things like this slide leads to a place where physical power trumps ideas and speech, which is fundamentally important to a functioning democracy.  UCB tuition increases certainly aren’t important to everyone, but the rights to assemble and speak on government property without threat of physical violence are (or should be).  It’s the difference between living in what the USA was founded to be vs. living in an Orwell novel.  UCPD could regulate the manner of the speech to some degree, but hitting nonviolent protesters with a baton seems over the line.  Watch the video if you haven’t:

    • Anonymous

      Read up on the 1st Amendment yourself.  It does not say sleeping and camping are recognized forms of free speech.  The Supreme Court has already ruled that free speech must involve some kind of printed or spoken communication.  Otherwise bums, junkies, teen runaways, and illegal aliens can sleep in public areas by claiming 1st amendment rights.

      • Anonymous

        That’s true, but we’re not talking about “bums, junkies, teen runaways, and illegal aliens sleep[ing] in public areas”.  They were a group of people with linked arms, chanting about financial and political issues that were important to them.  If that’s not political speech I don’t know what is, for which assembly is protected (see Edwards v. South Carolina, 372 U.S. 229 (1963)).  There are many less restrictive measures to allow that rather than resorting to physical violence.  First amendment aside, there are more appropriate ways to handle the situation — such as pulling people off the end of the line and arresting them — that could be used instead jabbing nonviolent people with nightsticks.  This is as much about unprofessional police work as it is free speech.

        • Anonymous

          You’re missing the point.  The protesters with linked arms were not doing anything wrong at first.  However, the protesters hiding BEHIND them were putting up tents, which is clearly not an act of free speech protected by the 1st amendment, so the UCPD had every reason to intervene and uphold the law.  When the police were obstructed by an unyielding group of co-conspirators, that turned the legitimate protesters into accessories to a crime and thus the police had every right to use force to break through the human chain.  I agree the police could have arrested those on the ends first, or maybe played really loud disco music, or used some other way to get through to the tents, but their decision falls within reasonable bounds for dealing with the non-responsive crowd.

          • UCB Alum

            I find this hard to fathom.  The police are not authorized to use force, unless there is the threat of imminent harm.  It doesn’t matter what offenses the protesters might be guilty of.  Don’t forget:  when blacks protested Jim Crow laws, their actions were illegal.  Are you suggesting that the police brutality that they faced was justified?  

          • Equating this childish provocation to the civil rights struggle of the 1950’s and 1960’s is an insult to every law-abiding African American in this country.

          • All twelve of them.

          • Anonymous

            I don’t think the setting up of tents is the kind of public safety issue that requires breaking a rib, like Alex Bernard’s was:

            “Sam Walker, a professor emeritus of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha who has served as a consultant to the Oakland Police Department, said he thought the campus response was ‘unprovoked’ and ‘completely unnecessary’ . . . ‘The way they were using [batons], you’re very likely to hit the groin or kidney,’ he said. ‘I think it is an excessive action and totally unwarranted in the circumstances we see on the video.'”

          • Did Sam Walker out in Cornhusker land have to deal with the riots, vandalism, and at least one homicide due to the same group of people squatting in a nearby city? Everyone knows what went on in Oakland, and as screwed up as the Regents may be on many issues, they recognized the need to head off another squatter’s camp and a possibility of the same issues on the Cal Campus. In addition, if this were TRULY a protest by “students”, why would there need to be a camp in the first place, other than to house the out-of-town hired muscle to break things? Better a bunch of dumb bunnies get a thumpin’ than deal with physical destruction on campus…

          • Damn right,  white man brother!  Give those niggers a thumpin’!  Better get– let’s just exterminate them all,  give us intelligent white folks some living room!  Let’s put a target circle on every uppity nigger in Oakland and Richmond,  hunt ’em down,  pay a reward for every nigger a white man in a brown shirt takes out!

          • guest

            Enough of your racist rants, you bigoted moron. Which rock did you crawl out of?

            Your diatribes constitute verbal hate crime. 

            Every comment you post reinforced your narrow views and unchristian sentiments.

          • Tents ARE a form of protest protected under the First Amendment.   The US Supreme Court in the 1984 case Clark vs. Community for Creative Nonviolence said that although park authorities said tents could be erected  (and left up) as a monument as a form of protest,  that regulations could prohibit sleeping in the tents.  Sleeping in the tents was not a protected form of protest — although any given city or park (or university) could allow sleeping in tents as protest.

            During the Occupy protests, several cities have said that sleeping in the tents is a form of protest that they do recognize.  Irvine, CA is one such city.  

            Another CA city, Santa Rosa, has allowed camping as protest, but is now doing so with permits.  That is legal, too.

            Los Angeles is also allowing camping in tents as protest. 

            So, please do not get the idea that it is universally accepted in California that sleeping in tents is not an acceptable form of protest.   

        • [That’s true, but we’re not talking about “bums, junkies, teen runaways, and illegal aliens sleep[ing] in public areas”.  They were a group of people with linked arms, chanting about financial and political issues that were important to them.]

          So you’re saying it’s OK for SOME people to break the law because they are STUDENTS protesting for a cause that is “important” to them, even if they are forcing a confrontation with a group of people who have no control or involvement in the matter? Talk about malignant narcissism on display! And you wonder why those of us in the REAL 99% working world think you children are full of yourselves…

  • Guest

    Selfish students and greedy lawyers want to bleed scarce resources from Cal.  How does that make you different from the 1%?

  • UCMeP

    Why Occupy Cal when you can Mockupy Cal?

  • Guest

    Frivolous lawsuits are a GREAT way to bring tuition costs down.

  • JustB

    “Good onYa'” BAMN, Occupy Cal, and UC Berkeley. I have been waiting to see news of such. Frank brutality, against unarmed, nonthreatening, nonviolent protesters is over the top overreaction.

    • Ho Ho Ho

      BAMN is a fucking joke.

      • What’s New

        Who hasn’t wanted to take a baton to Felarca?

  • Cal Professor

    Prosecute the offending police, and make Cal pay bigtime if they are so keen to use violence against peaceful protestors.

    • Guest

      yay!  more tuition increases to pay for lawsuit settlements!  UC students take it in the *** even more!  good job protesters!  

      • Gabriel Rodriguez

        I personally know students who were hurt at this event. I support them, UCPD is here to support us, not to hurt us. They’ve taken advantage of students every year that I’ve been a student, this has to stop. If it takes a lawsuit then so be it. 

      • sorry that your mommy and daddy will have to limit themselves to 4 or 5 ski vacations this year. tragedy. 

    • Cal Professor


      • Cal Professor

        Endowed chair in the hard sciences; best of luck in your future profession.

        • Guess it beats having to prove yourself in the private sector, doc.

          • Tony Toni Tone

            As if you have any idea what the person does for work.  We forget, people like Tony M just fall out of the womb with all the knowledge necessary to be a successful private sector employee.   No teaching or training necessary, right Tony?!

        • Webelotom

          If you hate Cal so much that you want your employer to get sued, go work somewhere else, asshole.

          • T. Ferguson

            That’s a great argument for allowing employers to establish an unsafe work environment (dipshit).

          • Cal parent

            What a moronic knee-jerk response you gave to the sensible professor who knows right from wrong. The administrators and the regents are actually not the employers of the faculty and staff. The taxpayers – be it the students or the parents who pay their fees – are the real employers. The Chancellor and the rest of the UC staff are employed by the system which is funded with our tax dollars.

            One can only assume from your response that you would gladly suffer any work place injustice or mistreatment simply because you feel your employer has the right to act however they want and you, as an employee have no right to voice any grievance. Unless, of course, you are one of those employers.

          • Webelotom

             No, I’d leave the job and protest. I wouldn’t continue working to benefit a system I thought was corrupt and evil.

  • Anonymous

    Plaintiffs in a frivolous lawsuit should be forced to pay the defendant’s attorney’s fees.  If the Berkeley BAMN members can’t cough up the money they should be forced to do community service cleaning up the Telegraph area while wearing orange jumpsuits.

    • Let’s get some spic Mexican immigrants and niggers to help them! Frack the poor– they’re a bunch of dumb lowlifes who should work for us.

      • Cal parent

        Dear True-bred White” Will you be wearing white hoods while you are whipping them?

      • Guest

        For those who don’t by now recognize his screed, “Kenneth Thomas” is Joseph Anderson under a pseudonym. Anderson, a Louis Farrikan wannabe, is an African American hater who frequently poses as a white racist in the Daily Cal site and elsewhere. He is simply an infantile attention addict. Ignore him.

        • Completely Serious

          A racist black man pretending to be a racist white man? How pathetic.

  • Completely Serious

    This suit should be thrown out for lack of merit.
    The protesters were clearly in violation of State Law.

    • U Fail It

      violation of the law?
      I suppose they should have been arrested.

      You fail to consider this:
      when one protestor offered her wrists for the cuffing, the cops instead grabbed her by the hair and threw her face first to the ground.
      That is unjustified use of force.

      You are completely UN-serious, a TROLL and nothing more.

      • violation of the law?

        Yep, Section 148 (a)(1) of the California Penal Code.

        I suppose they should have been arrested.

        That’s what the cops were trying to do when they decided to resist…

      • Ad

        that protestor is a tenured professor in the english dept

      • Completely Serious

        There is no point in the video at which the woman pulled by her hair offered both wrists to the Police so they could cuff her. Why lie when your own video contradicts what you are saying?

        • Kat
          • Completely Serious

            That’s the video I’m talking about.

            There is no point in the video during which either of the women pulled by the hair offer BOTH WRISTS to the police so they can be cuffed. Both of them have one arm out, and are continuing to hold on to the human chain and resisting arrest.

            Why lie about it when the very video you are using as “evidence”  contradicts your story?

        • Mondo

          The video shows her extending an arm just before she was yanked down brutally by the hair.  It’s unclear whether the arm was being offered for cuffing.  It’s beside the point.  There was no way those girls were a physical threat to the officers that justified the force that was applied.

  • Guest

    nuisance lawsuit