State legislature to hold hearings on police use of force on UC campuses

Police attempt to break through a line of students on Nov. 9 during the Occupy Cal protests.
Tony Zhou/Staff
Police attempt to break through a line of students on Nov. 9 during the Occupy Cal protests.

The state legislature will hold hearings next month on the police use of force during protests on University of California campuses over the past two weeks.

The hearings, requested by state Assemblymember and Chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee Marty Block, D-San Diego, were approved by Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, Tuesday, according to a press release from Perez’s office.

The public hearings will be held jointly by the Assembly Higher Education Committee and the Senate Education Committee on Dec. 14, according to a release from Block’s office.

Block said he scheduled the hearing with the intent of doing some “fact finding” about the force used against students at UC Berkeley and UC Davis.

“Everyone is seeing these events unfolding, and folks up and down the state are appalled, and it’s raising a lot of questions about the role of the police in the UC,” said John Vigna, press secretary for Perez.

As of Tuesday, the final guest list for the hearing has yet to be determined. But at a minimum, representatives from the UC and CSU, as well as some student groups, will be invited, according to Vigna.

The move comes on the heels of recent protests at UC Berkeley, where police used batons to break through a line of protesters who had linked arms, and UC Davis, where police pepper sprayed demonstrators who were sitting with arms linked in the campus’s quad. The actions elicited widespread outcry — including from UC President Mark Yudof, UC Board of Regents Chair Sherry Lansing and numerous faculty groups throughout the system — with some calling for UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi’s resignation.

Student Regent-designate Jonathan Stein said he fears that the hearing might draw attention away from other problems facing the university.

“We have to be paying attention to the underlying issues,” Stein said.

However, he said he does believe that the problems of police force and the problems of funding can be solved simultaneously.

In fact, Block said the hearing would certainly draw attention to the financial problems facing the campus.

“You can’t look at that video without thinking about why the students are out there,” he said. “To me, there’s a kind of synergy between the two issues.”

Birgeneau and Katehi pledged to investigate the police actions shortly after they occurred, but Yudof took it a step further by convening all 10 UC chancellors to discuss systemwide policies to ensure students’ right to protest.

Block said he does not think the hearing would take away anything from the ongoing internal investigations.

“Ideally, the internal investigation and discussion at the UC will reveal all that’s necessary to know about what happens and why it happens. But having an external investigation as well is certainly at least complementary, and we may be able to uncover things that legislation could solve that the internal investigation wouldn’t uncover,” he said.

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  • The resistance to this movement is so alarming. Sites like dealbreaker (specifically the comments) show how disrespectful the Wall Streeters are toward the OWS protest- not because they do not agree with the multiple agendas, but because they are just trying to look good and talk s### where expected. It’s so sad that they think that way- blindly and stupidly, just how the cops did here! Complete disrespect and fail!! I am trying to work from NY to cover stories on this and give insights from my unique position, please let me know if that I am doing is good, check my profile out!! Lets OWS!!

    • Anonymous

      This is how Obama protects the interests of the 99%…..

      Billionaire George Soros gave advice and direction on how President Obama should allocate so-called “stimulus” money in a series of regular private meetings and consultations with White House senior advisers even as Soros was making investments in areas affected by the stimulus program.

      Mr. Soros met with Mr. Obama’s top economist on February 25, 2009 and twice more with senior officials in the Old Executive Office Building on March 24th and 25th as the stimulus plan was being crafted.  Later, Mr. Soros also participated in discussions on financial reform.
      Then, in the first quarter of 2009, Mr. Soros went on a stock buying spree in companies that ultimately benefited from the federal stimulus.

      Corruptocrat Obama spreading your money to his 1% buddies.  Hope we Change

  • Anonymous

    I’m over 50.  I have 2 kids in college, neither of which attends a UC campus & I whole-heartedly agree with the student protests.  When I attended a CSU & my sister Cal, the tuition and fees were practically non-existent.  I paid $90 for each of my first 2 semesters of college & my sister was about $600 in fees per year.  I was able to work my way through college working as a busboy, waiter & bartender, no more than 24 hours per week. 

    The cost of higher education has increased at a rate far above inflation, coupled with the lack of well paying work for 18-24 year olds & that most parents’ college savings accounts have been decimated by the same forces that have caused the world economy to tank makes this an issue of rights.

    More importantly, the use of this level of force is meant for an emergency situation, a live riot or other act that poses an imminent threat to persons and/or property.  This did not qualify.

    Whatever the reasoning, the use of force equal to or greater than what we deem as unacceptable in other countries, is unacceptable here.  That is what is supposed to be American Exceptionalism.

    I attended the rally at UC Davis on Monday, I support the efforts of the students, staff & faculty at UC Davis (for the first time).  Go Hornets.

    • Anonymous

      I hate to break it to you but sitting in a tent protesting will not lower the cost of higher education. The resource pie in Cali is increasingly allocated to social services. Because Cali government is incompetent, they are unable stimulate economic growth, jobs and revenue.

  • Just A Dose Of Reality

    You know, if a bunch of leftist assholes didn’t think that they had the right to illegally camp on private property without permission, none of this ever would have happened.

    • R. Lee

      Oh my goodness, what a great point! Just like if a bunch of leftist assholes hadn’t thought they had the right to illegally sit at the front of the bus without permission, or go to a white school, or use a white drinking fountain (since these assholes were black, all against the law at the time!), none of that fire-hosing ever would have happened. Scofflaws and criminals, take your just deserts! Law enforcement officers are just doing their jobs when they grossly brutalize peacefully disobedient citizens demonstrating against injustice in the system.

      I think we all know who the real asshole is.

      • Anon

        Comparing humans trying to get equal rights to students trying to get lower tuition is sickening. I hope your ignorance is explained by youth and not stupidity.

        • Guest

          Sickening is when people get beat up by the authorities for expressing their beliefs non-violently.  I don’t believe that there’s any more to it than that.

          That’s the beauty of all this Bill of Rights stuff.  It protects the stupid, the ignorant and the wrong-headed as well as the visionaries and heroes.  It protects nuisances and obnoxious, unlikeable riffraff — your bitterest enemies as well as your friends and neighbors.  It’s what sets a free country apart from one that is state controlled.  It has to be this way, because otherwise any person, expression or group that the authorities didn’t like would be summarily beaten into oblivion, and it wouldn’t be a free country at all.  You might even agree with the beatings when someone you find obnoxious is on the other end — but I hope you can see how dangerous it would be for the violence to be allowed as a general rule.

          I would hope that any American that believes in the basic principles of the country would be appalled at *anyone* being treated like the civil rights protesters of the 60s or the current UC student protesters, even if you think one cause is laudable and the other ridiculous.  Ridiculous people are people too.  There’s nothing in the Bill of Rights that says, “these protections do not apply to idiots.”  And I’m thankful for that.

        • Anonymous

          If you want lower tuition, vote out the Libs in SACTO legislature who have turned Cali into a third world state with their anti business, pro illegal welfare state. Take an Econ class or two to find out how the public sector is funded.

          • Anonymous

            First on the list of causes of California’s budget problems is Proposition 13 and the 2/3 budget approval requirement. (Hint: these were not the work of “Libs”), and in Los Angeles, illegal migrant workers paid $3 billion more into the “system” than they withdrew in 2008 (I believe) according to the Tax Policy Center.

          • Anonymous

            It sounds like you approve of increased illegal immigration since the illegal migrant workers paid more money into the system than they withdrew.  Of course, you didn’t take into account how many of their children are now in our schools, did you?  And if you want to repeal Proposition 13, just realize the increased taxes would push many more middle class homeowners into foreclosure and lower property values for non-coastal areas.  If you think a lower hurdle for raising taxes would solve our problems, go ahead, see what happens when taxes go up.  Just look at what happened at Cal when tuition went up.

    • Anonymous

      It isn’t private property.