Concerns raised regarding methods UCPD used to gather evidence, identify Nov. 9 protesters

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More than a dozen protesters involved in the Nov. 9 Occupy Cal demonstrations have been presented with criminal charges, proceedings that have sparked controversy about the methods used to determine who was charged.

A total of 13 individuals — several UC Berkeley students and one faculty member — are being arraigned this month after being presented with charges, which include resisting arrest, battery on an officer, remaining at the scene of a riot and obstructing a person’s free movement in a public place.

Roughly 40 people were arrested on Nov. 9, so many of those arrested have not been served with charges. However, a significant portion of those who have been charged were not arrested on the day of the protest.

In a March 13 letter addressed to UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, the ACLU of Northern California took issue with what it called the “troubling” prosecution of individuals who were not arrested on Nov. 9 but who are prominent on campus for organizing protests.

The protesters who were not arrested that day were identified using various means, including video evidence, according to UCPD.

“It raises questions,” said Linda Lye, Northern California ACLU board member. “People were charged with obstructing officers, but if you look at the video evidence, it seems like the whole crowd was doing that — so why were these individuals singled out?”

Eleven current and former UC Berkeley students were charged — Jasper Bernes, Shayne Boyle, Amanda Armstrong, Ricardo Gomez, Zakary Habash, Ramon Quintero, Joshua Anderson, Ashley Pinkerton, Justin Tombolesi, Erick Uribe and Juan Davalos — along with UC Berkeley associate professor of English Celeste Langan and alumna and BAMN organizer Yvette Felarca.

Quintero said he thought the people who were charged were chosen because of their prominence in protests.

“One commonality between the 13 is that we are known organizers and activists,” Quintero said. “We organize students, and (the university doesn’t) want that. It’s a political witch hunt.”

Felarca, who was charged but not arrested on Nov. 9, said she thinks the presentation of charges is “really revealing” of the intentions of UCPD and the campus administration.

“The people being charged are the people police were caught beating on videotape — this is retaliation, and the police and administration are trying to cover up their wrongdoing by trying to charge those of us who were victimized,” Felarca said.

But according to UCPD spokesperson Lt. Eric Tejada, determining who to charge was ultimately at the discretion of the district attorney’s office.

“We make our case, and the district attorney reviews the evidence, and if they feel they have enough evidence they will move forward,” Tejada said.

Tejada said police used videos and officer statements to gather evidence and identify protesters.

“We reviewed videos that we took, YouTube videos … we reviewed every video we could find,” Tejada said. “Some of the people who were initially not arrested but charged later — that was through the investigation that we were able to identify them.”

Gomez, who is set to be arraigned Wednesday, said he found this use of video footage ironic.

“The video mobilized public opinion against the police for the actions on Nov. 9,” he said. “Yet they rely on video tape to bring charges against people who are standing their ground on their own campus.”

Still, the charging decisions led to further controversy when it was revealed last week that the Tang Center reported to UCPD the identities of protesters who went to the center seeking medical treatment. In a statement released Thursday, the Tang Center pointed out its legal obligation to do so under state law.

“In cases where patients are suspected to have suffered physical injury as a result of assault or abusive conduct, California law (penal code 11160) requires additional reporting, including the name of the injured person and the person’s injuries,” the statement reads.

But, in its letter, the ACLU of Northern California said “special procedures are necessary where law enforcement is the assailant, so that a statute intended to protect victims of violence is not perversely used against them.”

Tejada denied any connection between the Tang Center records and UCPD’s evidence gathering process.

“We were careful not to use that information,” Tejada said. “Those records go into our administrative division, and the administrative division doesn’t share them with the investigative division.”

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  • Guest

    “People were charged with obstructing officers, but if you look at the video evidence, it seems like the whole crowd was doing that — so why were these individuals singled out?”
    Okay, I’ll bet the most vocal activists on campus are the ones that placed them right there at the front lines, where they are doing the most interference and got nabbed.  It’s really that simple, I’m sure. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rosa-Hernandez/100001006597869 Rosa Hernandez

    This is despicable and nefarious. I want the ID’s names and addresses of the pigs in riot gear to be made public so they can face the same treatment at the hands of students. Arresting those who were victims of police brutality for seeking medical attention is just infuriating!  

    “Still, the charging decisions led to further controversy when it was revealed last week that the Tang Center reported to UCPD the identities of protesters who went to the center seeking medical treatment. In a statement released Thursday, the Tang Center pointed out its legal obligation to do so under state law.”

    • Stan De San Diego

       Take your hyperbole and shove it. Your little crowd of agitators was itching for a fight, and you  walked away with the second place award. Now grow up.

      • Guest

        The second place award.  LOVE IT!!!

    • Guest

      Nefarious.  Great word.  Unfortunately I can’t agree with you, though.  If I were you too, and I picked a fight with cops (just remember you called ‘em “pigs” next time you have to call cops for something tragic like a home invasion, you little brat) and got my ass handed to me AND videotaped being in the wrong I’d be pretty upset too.

  • WhatsYerNameOfficer

    So why has video evidence of officers covering their badges not been prosecuted and follow up on by UCPD? 

    • No

      Compared to the illegal activity you Occutards have been involved in, covering a badge is small potatoes.

      • crusty

        california state law says an officer’s name and/or badge number must be visible.an oakland pd officer was suspended for awhile for covering his name and his supervisor was demoted a rank.the reason for this is obvious:if an officer cannot be identified he/she can get away with all kinds of mayhem.ought to make sense even to you..

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WRACM77JT2RXUR3LMGDPPUGUYY Tony M

          California state law also says it’s a crime to interfere with, or disobey the lawful orders of a peace officer. You seem rather selective about which laws should be enforced…

    • Guest

      Your ilk takes so much viedo with yer iPhones I would think you can give me a link to UCPD DELIBERATELY covering up their badges.  C’mon, occutard, hit me with it!  C’mon, dipshit, let’s go!!!

  • Guest

    Correction: Linda Lye is an ACLU-NC staff attorney, not a board member.

  • Guest

    I think it’s hysterically funny that when folks think the cops are doing something bad, they whip out their iPhones and start videoing, and now these same folks are outraged and apoplectic that the cops do the same thing.  I’m actually laughing out loud right now.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WRACM77JT2RXUR3LMGDPPUGUYY Tony M

    [Gomez, who is set to be arraigned Wednesday, said he found this use of video footage ironic. “The video mobilized public opinion against the police for the actions on Nov. 9,” he said. “Yet they rely on video tape to bring charges against people who are standing their ground on their own campus.”]

    Proof positive how this little looney-tune is far, far removed from reality…

    • http://www.facebook.com/1080peter Peter Salazar

      Doesn’t seem looney to me at all. Students are standing up for the greater good of their campus. What’s so detrimental about that?

  • Carlos

    JAIL GOMEZ!   Do us all a favor.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002149200141 Eric Bordax

      JAIL GOMEZ

      but please dont jail any of the occupy protesters because free speech (_(_)========D~~~~~~~

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WRACM77JT2RXUR3LMGDPPUGUYY Tony M

         Wow, are you like 12 years old or what?

  • libsrclowns

    I’m sick of being critical of these guys. For once I support these students and the unfair pressure they have faced from the university for protesting against unacceptable budget cuts.

    • Stan De San Diego

       Nice try, troll. You’re not “libsrclowns”, as anyone can see by clicking on your avatar, and they aren’t being prosecuted for protesting. But keep lying and misrepresenting yourself, because it’s clear you can’t deal with the truth.

    • No

      More liberal trolls trying to hijack other people’s accounts.

      Is there any level you won’t stoop to?