Occupy Cal demonstrators file lawsuit against campus administrators, police

A protester is brought to the ground by a police officer in front of Sproul Hall.
Eugene W. Lau/Staff
A protester is brought to the ground by a police officer in front of Sproul Hall.

Students and community members have filed a lawsuit against UC Berkeley officials and campus and local law enforcement in response to police actions against demonstrators earlier this month.

The lawsuit was filed by BAMN, a national pro-affirmative action group, on behalf of 24 demonstrators who say they witnessed and experienced violence from police officers at the Nov. 9 Day of Action, the group announced in a press conference in front of the west doors of California Hall Tuesday.

The lawsuit cites campus and community officials, including Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, UCPD Chief Mitch Celaya, members from both the Oakland Police Department and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, as well as 100 unnamed officers, as defendants.

The complaints filed in the lawsuit, which address the violence that occurred during the demonstrations, say the defendants violated demonstrators’ First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by breaking up the assembly forcefully.

The lawsuit states that police officers used “shocking, unconscionable violence: peaceful protesters were forcefully jabbed in their chests, stomachs, and groins, clubbed in the face, yanked by their hair and beaten while lying on the ground.”

The campus administration has released a statement responding to the lawsuit.

“It is disconcerting that the plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit that is filled with so many inaccuracies,” the statement said. “For example, the claim that members of the administration are opposed to the ‘protesters’ defense of affordable, public education’ is completely unfounded.”

According to Monica Smith, an attorney for BAMN, plaintiffs will seek compensation for the physical and mental damages incurred by officers, although no specific monetary amount was cited in the document. She said the protesters are also demanding Birgeneau’s resignation.

Colleen Young, a UC Berkeley senior and plaintiff in the lawsuit, said she was beaten with batons across her torso, adding that her liver still hurts as a result of the violence, and the brutality helped to “scare students” from participating in subsequent protests.

“We live in America and we’re supposed to be able to protest freely,” Young said. “They’re told that if you have a free mind, you’re going to be beaten with sticks.”

Another plaintiff, campus senior Christopher Anderson, said that as a result of the violence he experienced, he is having trouble reconciling his feelings for the university with his anger surrounding the violence.

“I used to have a lot of pride to go to this school,” Anderson said. “I still have pride, but I’m a little bit disillusioned.”

Oksana Yurovsky contributed to this report.

Please keep our community civil. Comments should remain on topic and be respectful.
Read our full comment policy
  •                “Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains.” (Rousseau)
    Do a background check on fbi/police assassins and serial killers (via my sites); then be less concerned about the run of the mill murderer.
    College campuses across the nation are in fascist/police lockdown under the influence of fbi assassins, as evidenced by gross violations of human, civil, and constitutional rights of our citizens.See my documentations:
    The fbi, military intelligence at CSUN (James Wolf), police, UT chancellor, UT legal counsel all team up to create a fraudulent police report with patently false contents in order to find a way to illegally arrest this fbi whistleblower. See this and related links:
    ——————–BTW: In the early years of the fbi Hoover discovered that his agents were generally not quite capable (for a number of reasons) to deal with the murderers and psychopaths of organized crime in the United States; so, Hoover and his associates set out to correct this inadequacy in a calculated and systematic manner: his agents when deemed appropriate would (by training and mind programming) become themselves homicidal sociopaths. His plan worked so well that in today’s fbi, one cannot always determine which agents (and operatives) are cold blooded murderers and torturers.For example: People who knew H. Paul Rico (ex-fbi agent)”… recall him as a cop who dressed and talked like a gangster. Only much later would it become clear that it was not an act.” Hitman, Howie Carr, Tom Doherty Associates,LLC,175 Fifth Avenue, New York,NY 10010,2011, p.63.http://sosbeevfbi.ning.com/forum/topics/war-on-terror-2010
    Also see:
    Re: Insider Trades:
    Human Experimentation:

  • Anonymous

    Did the plaintiffs get any coaching from experienced civil rights attorneys? Suing for civil rights violations and actual damages from police conduct might have a chance for success. I’m worried that all the other stuff ,  such as suing for Birgeneau’s resignation, might undermine their case.

  • Guest

    To protest waste of money, I’m going to sue you and have you run up MILLIONS of dollars in legal fees, the cost of which you’ll just pass on to me as higher fees.

    How many ways can you spell stupid.  Evidently, myriad.

    • Guest

      That’s kind of what I thought. BAMN said the University and police have insurance that covers legal matters, so it will not directly come from tax payers. Do you know anything about that?

      • Guest

        Yes, I have first-hand, direct information.  BAMN is wrong.

        The University has its own lawyers, and when they need additional help, they buy it retail from non-university contract lawyers.  The University is self-insured; there is no one to shunt the costs onto.

        Tax dollars are rarely if ever used for legal or insurance costs.

        • Titi00002

          seems really wrong to not file a case against the police out of fear of who might pay for their defense

    • Guest

      I have heard the police and University have insurance covering legal matters such as this, haven’t fact checked it yet. Any info on this?

      • Guest

        Yes, I do have facts/info.  The Regents/University is self-insured.

  • Guest

    nuisance lawsuit

  • Anonymous

    The U.S. Supreme Court set the precedent in finding that prohibition of camping in areas not designated for camping (such as Sproul) does not violate the First Amendment even when the stated purpose of the camp is to express a political view.


    • Guest

      Yea for sure. The tents serve many purposes, but it’s a tough sell to call it speech. Strategically speaking, they are more of a foundation offering logistical support. Nonetheless, sending in an armed force to break through and remove unarmed people blocking the tents before exhausting other options is pretty damn careless and immoral in my opinion…regardless of how I feel about the tents being there.  

  • Truth

    Did the BAMN folks do their usual?  Did they get high school students to sign onto the suit?  Cuz every time they have a demonstration, they have to get hs kids to attend cuz everyone at Cal knows that BAMN is a bunch of lying screw-ups.

  • cal ’14

    With is this BAMN thing? Why aren’t they working with the ACLU or a real organization?

    • truth

      BAMN is like extremists islamics — they screw it up for the real folks.

      BAMN was banned from Anti-War coalitions in 2001 cuz they would lie and distort things and announce to the press that they had support of the coalition for their crazy shite when they had no support at all.

      Crazy ass people.   Check out this site   http://www.nathannewman.org/bamn/

      • Guest

        Thanks for the post. I am interested in knowing more about BAMN.

        • Guest

          Yvette Felarca, Hoku Jeffrey, Ronald Cruz.

          Their mission was on the surface affirmative action.  It’s a clever disguise.  They’re basically on the side of anyone who opposes or clashes with the University.

          Some schools generate alumni support.  Berkeley generates alumni who then try to tear the school down.  Good stuff!

      • Claud333

        i wonder if that link and other anti-bamn stuff is something like FBi or CIA attempts to destroy their reputation, seeing how they promote dissent.  then again, maybe they’re real clumsy. but most of those links are from the ’90s, so possibly not the same now?

  • UC Failz Da 1stAmendment

    In 2009 the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (thefire.org) put UC on notice:
    UC’s speech codes were on the wrong side of 25 years of case law. UC defined impermissible speech so broadly that the code of was flatly unconstitutional (and unenforceable.)
    Since then only 6 of 10 campuses have changed their speech codes to be in accord with the well settled law. 4 campuses have not, this despite more than 2 years of protests and conduct hearings system-wide.
    For shame, fuckers, but y’all have none of that, we know this.

  • Tommy

    As a parent my sympathies are with students protesting higher tuition. But the students need to be coherent and concise in articulating the problem and offer solutions.

    Why higher tuition?

    First, is the explosion in the size and scope of the UC administration. There are simply too many administrators, being paid too much.

    Second, union wages and benefits for employees (instructors, professors, administrators, other unionized staff). A major problem is the ability to retire relatively young with lavish pensions.

    Third, waste of money on diversity degrees and classes (black studies, woman studies, chicano studies) which only lead to jobs teaching diversity studies.  

    Forth, a State which is broke. If students go to Sacramento they should be protesting the excessive amount of public sector union control over the legislators and budget.  If California continues to run a Greek style public sector then tuition will necessarily sky rocket.