About 100 demonstrators comprising union workers, UC Berkeley faculty and students rallied outside of California Hall on Wednesday, demanding that the University of California drop all charges filed against David Cole, a housing and dining services employee who was tackled and detained by UCPD on Feb. 1.
Cole was charged with vandalism and resisting an officer during the first AFSCME Local 3299 worker’s rally.
Communications director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, John de Los Angeles recounted the events of Feb. 1 and their connection to Wednesday’s rally.
“We threw the protest last Thursday, and that protest was about honoring Martin Luther King (Jr.) and his march with Black workers in 1968 and acknowledging the fight against inequality that we still wage today,” de los Angeles said. “We’re here today to stand up for David Cole in response to the excessive use of violence (by UCPD). … We’re outraged.”
According to de Los Angeles, Cole is currently recovering from the incident because of which he was hospitalized and “received stitches on his head and nose with bruises along the body.”
Demonstrators chanted phrases such as, “UC! UC! You’re no good, treat your workers like you should!” and “Drop the charges for David Cole!”
Abdullah Puckett, internal vice president of the Black Student Union, or BSU, said BSU rallied to support the Black community and let administration know it will not tolerate the oppression of Black people on campus.
“We are here to support all Black staff, Black workers and all Black students and their right to exist on this campus,” Puckett said. “We need effective oversight structures put in place to ensure that UCPD reflects the concerns and desires of the student body.”
Campus officials announced in a campuswide email Tuesday evening their plans to hire an independent and external organization to review UCPD’s actions during the UC workers rally on Feb. 1.
The review is meant to see if the actions of the UCPD officers were consistent with UCPD guidelines, Vice Chancellor for Administration Marc Fisher said in the message.
“We believe Berkeley can and should maintain a positive relationship between our police force and the community it serves,” Fisher said in the message. “Our goal is to be a campus where every student, faculty, and staff member feels safe, respected and welcome.”
ASUC Senator Hani Hussein said at the rally that she wants to see the campus community uphold police accountability.
“I would like to see our chancellor step up and issue a statement founded in fact and not just hearsay,” Hussein said. “I would like to see administration work on solutions that we want and not solutions that they think we want.”