Occupy Cal demonstrators pack Police Review Board Meeting

Jesse Choper, UC Berkeley School of Law professor, speaks at the UCPD Police Review Board meeting, in which Nov. 9 police use of force was discussed.
Carli Baker/Staff
Jesse Choper, UC Berkeley School of Law professor, speaks at the UCPD Police Review Board meeting, in which Nov. 9 police use of force was discussed.

More than 75 demonstrators packed into Barrows Hall Thursday evening for the annual UCPD Police Review Board meeting, where the issue of the Nov. 9 police use of force against protesters dominated discussion, despite previous notice that the meeting would not cover that issue.

Before the meeting, the demonstrators lined the hallway outside the meeting room, standing silently and holding an assortment of signs with messages including “Disband the UCPD before they kill again” and “Police are detrimental to our safety.” Members of the board filed past protesters into the room as sounds from YouTube videos of the Nov. 9 police violence played.

At the start of the meeting and at various points throughout, board chair and UC Berkeley School of Law professor Jesse Choper reiterated that the purpose of the meeting was not to discuss Occupy Cal or the police violence at the Nov. 9 protest. Instead, he stated that the meeting was intended to cover events from the last fiscal year.

He added to the assembled crowd that it would be inappropriate to comment on the event while the investigation was still pending.

“I understand the concerns that many of you have … about what took place at Sproul Plaza last month,” Choper said. “You also know that this board has been asked by the chancellor to conduct … an investigation of those matters. It would prejudice our fairness and impartiality to either hear or comment on anything that happened at that time.”

Choper’s announcement was met with frustration and anger from the gathered crowd.

“When do we get to tell our story?” the crowd stated using the human microphone. “Where is that public review board? When is that public meeting?”

Despite Choper’s remarks, talk of the Nov. 9 incidents dominated the meeting, though there were several comments that did not pertain specifically to the event. The board addressed more general questions regarding police protocol, authority and what the specific role and responsibility of the board was.

Most questions regarding the specifics of Nov. 9 were met with repeated statements by Choper that the meeting was not an appropriate place to bring them up. In response, the assembled crowd voted to establish a “People’s Police Review Board.”

“This board is not going to listen to you,” a speaker said to the crowd. “I propose that we move to and create our own police review board.”

The meeting closed with remarks from Choper, who said that he understood the “sincerity and intensity” of the demonstrators’ feelings and hoped that they understood the intention of the board to carry out an impartial investigation.

Chants of “Birgeneau must go, Birgeneau must go” cut him off abruptly and the meeting ended with the “People’s Police Review Board” beginning its own meeting as the campus police review board slowly filed out of the room.

After the meeting, Choper declined to comment on what occurred. As of press time, the People’s Police Review Board meeting was still underway.