The Daily Californian has obtained more than 1,000 emails sent to Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and other UC Berkeley administrators in response to the campus’ handling of the November Occupy Cal protests.
The emails, received by the Daily Cal from the campus’ Public Records Office on Tuesday, illustrate widespread dismay over video footage taken in front of Sproul Hall that shows police officers jabbing protesters — a group that included students and faculty — with batons on Nov. 9. Messages came from campus and university alumni as well as concerned citizens across the country and even around the world.
Despite the overwhelming desire many of the emails express for Birgeneau to make amends for allowing the clash between law enforcement and protesters to become violent, several emails support the use of force and even asked that protesters be forced out entirely.
The emails were obtained through a Public Records Act request first made by the Daily Cal shortly after the Nov. 15 Day of Action.
- Parents of UC Berkeley students, students at other colleges, high school students applying to college and even young children consistently asked one question of Birgeneau — how he would have felt if his children were beaten by police like the protesters were.
- The link to the viral YouTube video that shows police jabbing protesters was often included as a counterpoint to Birgeneau’s Nov. 10 email to the campus community that described the protesters’ linked arms as “not non-violent civil disobedience.” Birgeneau sent the email while on a business trip in Asia and rescinded that description in a Nov. 14 email to the campus community sent after he returned from the trip and saw the video.
- A handful of high school educators told Birgeneau that they would not recommend UC Berkeley to their students unless changes in protest policy changed. In the months since then, the campus created a Protest Response Team to better plan for protests and communicate with protesters, and School of Law Dean Christopher Edley included suggestions for university-wide protest policy changes in his report written with UC Vice President and General Counsel Charles Robinson.
- Many UC Berkeley faculty —including several School of Law professors — and staff members emailed Birgeneau as individuals to express their disapproval of how protesters were treated.
- Several emails expressed fear of the protesters as a violent Occupy Wall Street mob that must be cleared out as soon as possible. Also, a few compared the Nov. 9 protest in front of Sproul Hall to the riot at Penn State University
Due to the large number of documents obtained, the emails are largely unsorted. The documents can be viewed below.
Christopher Yee is an assistant news editor.