Charges against 2 more Occupy Cal protesters dropped

Edwin Cho/Staff
Edwin Cho/Staff

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The criminal charges against two protesters involved in the Nov. 9 Occupy Cal demonstrations were dismissed at a hearing Friday, leaving only two more hearings to determine the fate of the charges for the remaining protesters.

Recent UC Berkeley graduate Erick Uribe — charged with blocking a public thoroughfare and obstructing an officer — and graduate student Shane Boyle — whose charges included remaining at the scene of a riot — are two of the 13 protesters charged for their involvement in November’s protest.  The charges against at least nine of their fellow protesters have also been dropped this month.

At Friday’s hearing, a representative from the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office read a statement saying that the dismissal came after UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau withdrew his support for the charges.

The statement from the district attorney’s office said that going forward with the cases would “serve the interest of justice.”

According to Boyle’s attorney John Hamasaki, lawyers met with Assistant District Attorney Paul Hora on Wednesday, where Hora said charges against the majority of the protesters would be dropped.

“This case is a nice example of both sides meeting together, spending time on the case and reaching the right outcome,” Hamasaki said. “The right outcome (allows the) young people to move forward with their studies and their lives.”

UC Berkeley associate professor of English Celeste Langan — whose trial is scheduled for May 4 — said that she was told by her attorney that her charges would also be dropped at her hearing in May.

“While it’s great to know that we will not have to go to trial, in my case it’s almost frustrating, as I won’t have (the) opportunity to challenge the police reports of two Alameda County Sheriff’s officers who claimed that I pushed one of them with both hands in the chest — a complete and utter fabrication,” Langan said in an email.

Boyle speculated that the “solidarity of the students, faculty and community members” played a role in the dismissal of the charges and said he plans to “continue organizing our campus.”

Hamasaki said that demonstrations — such as the March 12 protest outside California Hall and the April 9th gathering on Sproul — help “the administration understand that students are concerned about other students being prosecuted for first amendment activity.”

Additionally, UC Berkeley faculty members posted an online petition calling for Chancellor Robert Birgeneau to request that the district attorney drop all charges against the campus protesters.

“I think we’re all happy for the students that had their prosecutions dismissed, but it’s not over until Jasper’s is also dismissed,” Hamasaki said.

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  • Pixilicious

    It is clear that this was a consolidation of power by Birgeneau: Illegally arrest students who dare to protest then purport to show leniency in (slowly) dismissing charges against the “dissidents” in exchange for future passiveness… sort of like they do in China, North Korea, Iran, ad nauseam.

    It is also clear that the choice is between freedom of speech at Cal and Birgeneau. Either he goes or it does.  Don’t count on him to quit; the man’s incompetence has exposed him as virtually unemployable elsewhere. Don’t count on the regents to fire his ass either; they’ll only act if backed into a wall by students.

    There was once a time when an action like this wouldn’t have been tolerated; maybe that time will come again in the very near future. We can hope, anyway, because this administration is destroying the University and what it stands for.

  • Cal faculty member

    Fraudulent arrest by the UC police is again embarrassingly revealed in public.  This will be very helpful in the lawsuits concerning excessive use of force against non-violent protestors.  Thank you, Chancellor Birgeneau.  This is your legacy!