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.