Protesters recount experiences at Nov. 9 Occupy Cal demonstration

Yvette Felarca (left) and Monica Smith (center) were at Monday night's BAMN meeting in Wheeler Hall.
Derek Remsburg/Staff
Yvette Felarca (left) and Monica Smith (center) were at Monday night's BAMN meeting in Wheeler Hall.

Poised to file a federal lawsuit against UC Berkeley for alleged police brutality, Occupy Cal protesters met in Wheeler Hall Monday night to recount, in vivid detail, their experiences of the police violence at the Nov. 9 protest.

About 50 people attended the 2.5-hour meeting, which was organized by BAMN, a national minority rights and pro-affirmative action group. Yvette Felarca, a national organizer for BAMN, and Monica Smith, a BAMN attorney, led the meeting. Smith said the group intends to formally file its lawsuit in federal court this week.

The meeting was dominated by protesters’ accounts of the brutality they said they suffered at the hands of the police.

“It was like a war,” said Robert Slaughter, a senior at St. Mary’s College who participated in the Nov. 9 Occupy Cal protests.

He said officers pulled him to the ground, handcuffed him and continued to kick him and jab him in the ribs with batons even though he was not resisting.

“For the first few days I couldn’t sleep on my side,” Slaughter said.

He said he was taken to Santa Rita Jail, underwent a strip search and held in a maximum-security cell until he was released.

Morgan Crawford, a UC Berkeley senior, said that he suffered emotional as well as physical injury as a result of the police violence on Nov. 9.

“My anxiety and depression have gone through the fucking roof,” Crawford said.

Crawford was at the front of the mass of protesters when officers used their batons to try to force the crowd to disperse.

“We couldn’t move,” he said. “They’re telling me to move, but there’s nowhere I can go.”

He said the experience has made him afraid of large crowds of people and that he has sought help at a support group.

Crawford, who arrived at the BAMN meeting on crutches, said he was unable to walk himself home after the protests.

“I’ve been on crutches for two weeks,” he said.

Matt Williams, a UC Berkeley senior, said he was standing in a Sproul Hall windowsill taking video of the clashes.

Williams said he felt helpless as he saw officers grabbing young women by the hair and pulling them to the ground.

“That affected me profoundly,” he said. “I had that feeling of this is not right, this is not right. This was a traumatic experience just witnessing this.”

Most protesters said that campus Chancellor Robert Birgeneau should be held responsible for the police violence, and Felarca said she hoped the lawsuit would force Birgeneau to testify or resign.

Though videos documenting the police using batons were taken in the afternoon, most people at the meeting said that officers were more violent at night.

“If what happened (in the afternoon) was scary, what happened at night was terrifying,” Crawford said.

Felarca said police officers were “pumped up” and “ready to beat some heads” at the nighttime protest.

Birgeneau said in a Nov. 14 email to the campus that he was disturbed by “the videos that were made of the protests on Nov. 9” and has asked the Police Review Board to immediately launch a review of police conduct.

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  • Guest

    Boo fucking hoo.

    BAMN is a racist organization and should be condemned, not given a platform for their hate speech.

    • If you’re going to make claims like this, can you PLEASE say what your basis for the charge is?
      How is anyone unfamiliar with BAMN (I don’t go to UC) supposed to judge your allegation if you just anonymously call people racist without bothering to explain what they’ve done or said that you think substantiates the charge.
      Sources would be nice too.

      • Claude

        Can anybody explain what is up with BAMN?  Good or bad?  they seem polarizing and I don’t know why

  • CalPacktheHALLS

    Why are these BAMN failures even given any sort of attention 

  • [About 50 people attended the 2.5-hour meeting, which was organized by
    BAMN, a national minority rights and pro-affirmative action group.
    Yvette Felarca, a national organizer for BAMN, and Monica Smith, a BAMN
    attorney, led the meeting.]

    Sounds like the usual people with axes to grind have smelled money somewhere…

    • Anonymous

      20 years of this shit have turned Cali into a failed state. We even have one of these ass holes in the White House.

  • The police were out of control that day. They were guided by violence and hatred. What they did was not about public safety- it was about trying to shut down a cause, thankfully they FAILED.

    • Guest

      Nope. It was about trying to prevent protesters from setting up an illegal tent city.

      • Question: Who was threatening by their tents?
        Illegal is a funny word. You can make anything illegal by passing a law. Or a town ordinance (still tech a law). Or, effectively by revising the student code.
        If the action is morally justified, who gives a fuck?

        • What’s “morally justified”? Breaking a law so you can achieve NOTHING that solves the problem that you were protesting in the first place?

  • Guest

    I know a lot of people don’t like BAMN (and with good reason) but everyone who was at the protests or has seen the videos knows that what the police did that day was vicious and completely unjustified and there needs to be justice. This lawsuit might just be the thing.

    • Guest

      BAMN is still a shitty, racist organization.

  • Brad

    Man, put me on that jury please.  I’d make sure they don’t get a dime.  Let’s see Robert Slaughter, what were you doing that got the attention of the police?  Just minding your business I’m sure.  Morgan Crawford, emotional injury?  Like they scared you really bad?  As a student employer on campus, I’ll make sure to remember your name just in case I get your application so I know to file it with HR.  You’ll be getting my ‘thanks but no thanks”‘ response email.  Don’t need your anxiety and depression that goes through the fucking roof to contaminate my team. 

    • Ok

      You’re wrong in so many ways, but let me just respond to one point: Morgan was beaten so hard by the police for peacefully protesting that he still can’t walk properly. That kind of thing generally affects people who aren’t assholes like you.

      • Nobody was beaten by the police for “peacefully protesting”, so you can take that lie and shove it. These people forced a confrontation with the cops over their stupid tents. At least be honest about that much…

        • Anonymous

          An important question is what constitutes excessive force and peaceful protest. 

          Interesting that only those with an agenda defend linking arms as “violent” and pitching tents in violation only of university codes of conduct as “confrontation” worthy of violent police response.

          • Anonymous

            Who said linking arms was violent?

          • UC Police Capt. Margo Bennet did:”The individuals who linked arms and actively resisted, that in itself is an act of violence,” UC police Capt. Margo Bennett said. “I understand that many students may not think that, but linking arms in a human chain when ordered to step aside is not a nonviolent protest.” SF Chronicle

            Apparently that was the level of bullshit she considered necessary to publicly justify the beating of students with clubs because they refused to dismantle tents and leave a public outdoor area.

          • Will

            so the police both define and enforce the rules as they see ’em.  that’s not fascism

          • No, the police enforce the laws passed by the state legislature. Google “California Penal Code” and you might learn something…

          • Will

            could you be more specific?  that’s a long read

          • Will

            truth&love > constitution > penal code

        • Will

          so you’re a cop, right?

      • Brad

        I’m glad he still can’t walk properly.  Serves him right for not following police orders to pick up his tent which was in violation.  Next time, maybe he’ll listen.  Let me explain something to you OK – when the police ask you to do something and you decide not to do it, they don’t just leave and go ‘aww shucks’.  They rightfully escalate it to the proper use of force (ie, they didn’t bonk him on the head, they didn’t taze him or fire a bean bag at his balls).   Think of it as a sliding scale starting off at verbal commands.  Shouldn’t be too hard to follow. 

        • Anonymous

          Permissive parenting, no consequences for bad behavior…..gosh, there might be a study here.

    • Claude

      pretty sure you’re not genuine, just fearmongering.  i like to think people who fight for social justice gain support of the community, not lose it.

  • What’s new

    Felarca has lied before, and will lie again.

  • Guest

    I thinks it time that UC told Yvette Felarca to either graduate or drop out,15 years in grad school is enough.

    How many students could have received a fully funded undergraduate education with all of the state resources that have been invested into her graduate studies??

    • meli

      She’s not in grad school, she finished awhile ago. She just really likes hanging around here…

      • Typical of those who can’t hack the real world. Personally, I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of Berkeley once I took my last final and knew I passed the class. But then again, my plan wasn’t to hang around Cal for the rest of my life…

        • Anonymous

          You probably didn’t major in race, gender or ethnic studies.

    • Hppynut

      she’s a teacher at MLK middle school in berkeley and an long time community organizer / activist and an UCB alum. makes total sense to be around. what’s your problem stalking this person for 15 years

  • why is this article not tagged

    Why is this article not tagged under “Occupy Cal”?

    • Disgusted

      Because outrageous police brutality like this is concerns the whole community.

      • Stan De San Diego

        It wasn’t “police brutality”.

        • really, striking people with clubs because they refuse to leave the quad or dismantle their dangerous, dangerous tents?Are you TRYING to be thick? I mean, i know that’s the only way you can win the argument here, but it’s kinda dickish yaknow?

        • Claude

          police brutality = excessive force.