The Berkeley Patriot filed a civil rights complaint Tuesday against the UC Berkeley administration for allegedly “systematically and intentionally violating” its members’ civil liberties by suppressing their First Amendment rights.
Marguerite Melo, one of the attorneys from the law firm Melo & Sarsfield representing the conservative campus online publication, said her clients are requesting that the U.S. Department of Justice conduct an investigation into the campus’s conduct.
She alleged in the complaint that members of the Berkeley Patriot feel that their freedom of speech, freedom of association and right to equal protection have been denied by UC Berkeley.
“The situation at UC Berkeley has become downright physically dangerous this past year for conservative students who merely wish to exercise their God given rights to freedom of speech and association that are enshrined in the Constitution,” Melo said in the complaint sent to the Department of Justice.
Melo also alleged that the campus was communicating with the Berkeley Patriot through the press rather than directly communicating with the publication about the event.
Although several media outlets reported that the Berkeley Patriot had canceled Free Speech Week, Melo said this was false and that the four-day event will go on as planned. The campus has submitted additional requirements that the Berkeley Patriot is working to meet, Melo added.
“I can assure you that the Berkeley Patriot is not canceling Free Speech Week,” Melo said. “On the contrary, they are doing everything they can to make this happen.”
In addition, the Berkeley Patriot editor-in-chief Mike Wright recently confirmed in a text message to The Daily Californian that Free Speech Week has not been canceled.
The uncertainty, Melo said, is which speakers will be in attendance.
Melo alleged that 36 hours after the complaint was filed through the Department of Justice, her clients were notified that the campus had opened an investigation into them regarding a hate speech incident. She said she believed that the investigation was related to a chalking incident on campus that included targeted messaging towards undocumented and LGBTQ communities, but was not certain.
According to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof, however, UC Berkeley has only opened investigations into the chalk graffiti and another hate speech incident Thursday involving posters on campus that allege members of the campus community are “terrorist supporters.” The campus investigations, Mogulof said, are not targeted at any particular group.
“We have no reason to believe that anyone in (the Berkeley Patriot) did it,” Mogulof said. “There’s no investigation going on at the Berkeley Patriot.”
Contact Ashley Wong and Chantelle Lee at [email protected].