Every UC Berkeley student has experienced stress juggling midterms, relationships and jobs. Few, though, can imagine a world where every moment they spend on campus is shaded by the pall of potential arrest. 12 of 13 Occupy Cal protesters being charged with misdemeanors for their alleged actions on Nov. 9 now live that reality, having been issued stayaway injunctions that restrict their time on campus. The injunctions are unjust and should not have been ordered.
This week, an Alameda County Superior Court judge barred 12 UC Berkeley students from coming within 100 feet of campus property, other than to attend class or fulfill employment duties, among other exceptions. Stay-away orders are generally reserved for cases in which an imminent threat of further violence or damage exists. But in this instance, the accused present no such risk to the campus or its community. These orders seem to exist solely as a form of punishment for individuals yet to be convicted of any crime.
Each injunction, according to the county district attorney’s office, will be tailored to each student’s situation. They will be allowed to go to class and live in universityowned property. Moreover, UCPD spokesperson Eric Tejada has implied that those found violating the stay-away will face subjective evaluation as to whether they should be detained. Given these indications from the parties responsible for enforcing the injunctions, the judge’s decision is revealed as a petty misuse of the law.
Indeed, if so many measures are being taken to allow the charged protesters to go about their lives, then the injunctions serve little purpose. Rather, they only cause undue distress for the defendants who received them. It is in the court’s interest to prevent further protests, yes. These orders, however, do nothing to stop another Nov. 9. Largescale demonstrations do not occur simply because Ricardo Gomez — one of the students issued a stayaway — is hanging around campus between class, for example.
Though some affectionately mock this city as “The People’s Republic of Berkeley,” our campus does not exist in a police state. No student should have their lives so dramatically interrupted for exercising their right to free speech. At this point, these 12 are guilty of nothing more.