UC Berkeley School of Law faculty condemn police actions at Occupy Cal

In an open letter released Wednesday, more than 70 faculty members at the UC Berkeley School of Law expressed their strong condemnation of actions taken against protesters last week by campus administrators and police, calling for a reestablishment of the campus’s reputation as a beacon of free speech.

In the letter — addressed to Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer and Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Harry Le Grande — the faculty members decried the violence directed against non-violent protesters present at Sproul Plaza on Nov. 9 and the temporary detention of two law students near the law school that same day.

In addition, the letter strongly criticizes Birgeneau’s response to the police violence that day, condemning what they characterize as his “public and explicit defense of the police action … which made inaccurate distinctions between violent and non-violent civil disobedience and which he apparently signed without having viewed the videos of the incidents at issue.”

“The First Amendment enshrines the right to assemble peaceably, to speak freely, and to petition for governmental redress of grievances,” the letter reads. “While the University may enforce its rules, including citing or arresting those engaged in acts of civil disobedience … there is no place for instigating violence in a community dedicated to the free exchange of ideas.”

Moving forward, the letter calls on the administration to publicly defend and support the rights of students to engage in non-violent political expression and to implement recommendations made by the June 2010 Police Review Board Report, which was issued in response to police violence at the Wheeler Hall protests of November 2009.

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  • Lmeyerson33

    The following information was on a flyer written by students from the Cal Occupy movement:

    On November 15, 2011 thousands of students, faculty, and staff filled Sproul Plaza to participate inthe Occupy Cal general assembly. (Crowd total estimates range from 5,000 to 10,000.) 

    The GA discussed and voted to approve the Open Letter below:

    Open Letter to the State Government, UC Regents,
    CSU Trustees, & All Education Administrators
    Qualitypublic education is a basic human right, not a privilege. We call on you to publicly declare your support for the following:

    1) Stop cuts to public education. Reverse the fee hikes, layoffs, and cuts in all levels of public education
    to at least their 2009 levels.
    2) Refund education and public services by taxing the rich and the corporations.
    3) Fully implement affirmative action to stop the re-segregation of public education. Overturn
    Proposition 209.
    4) Respect free speech and free assembly. No use of force against protesters on school sites.
    If you fail to issue such a statement, and if you fail to take concrete actions in this direction, we will
    begin a wave of actions, up to and including striking, beginning on February 1, 2012 to ensure that
    our demands are met.
    We call on all California students, teachers, workers, and their organizations to sign this Open Letter and to organize and mobilize around it at their sites and in their communities.
    * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    We call on the UC Regents to immediately sign this Open Letter and join us on our Nov. 16 march on the banks and the State Building beginning at 1pm in San Francisco, Justin Herman Plaza.
    (labor donated/nov 2011)

    ^^^ That march happened today, and I was a part of it.