Police Review Board holds final meeting to hear Nov. 9 testimony

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The UC Berkeley Police Review Board held its final meeting to hear video and verbal testimony about the use of police force at the Nov. 9 protests from advocates for police and protesters Tuesday night.

At the public meeting — which was a continuation of testimony that began Monday evening as part of the board’s investigation into the Nov. 9 protest events — participants met in a classroom at the UC Berkeley School of Law and provided differing perspectives about the unfolding of the protests.

Advocates for the police UCPD Capt. Margo Bennett and Janine Scancarelli, a lawyer from Crowell & Moring LLP, gave a video presentation about the events, showing clips of the protests from various angles. The clips were shown in chronological order and represented the evolution of the demonstrations throughout the day.

“One thing important for you to see is that there is controlled movement — officers are not simply moving at their whim,” Scancarelli said during the presentation. “They’re moving in a line trying to convince the crowd to move. It’s only when the crowd doesn’t move that they use their batons and people are injured.”

The advocates stressed the importance of context in looking at the day’s events and asserted that the main purpose of the police’s use of force was to take down the encampment.

“The professors (advocating for the protesters) suggested that the police used force in order to stop people from protesting issues concerning public education, but the purpose of force was to take down the encampment,” Scancarelli said. “People who wanted to leave were given access to leave — most people made it clear they didn’t want to leave.”

Following the police advocates’ presentation, faculty advocates for the protesters Judith Butler, professor of rhetoric and comparative literature, and law professor Jonathan Simon gave their responses.

“Even if we accept the (police advocates’) arguments that the stated aim of police violence was to remove tents, none of that really establishes if the removal of the tents really warranted the beating of protesters with such force and ferocity,” Butler said.

Butler questioned the police advocates’ arguments, saying that the aim of police force was not only to remove the encampments but also to disperse the assembled protesters.

“If you’ve declared assembly unlawful, that gives police the right to disperse a crowd — was the crowd dispersed to get to the tents or because it was unlawful?” Butler said. “The meaning of their resistance is precisely to assert rights of assembly when rights of assembly are being denied. That is the whole point of civil disobedience.”

Individuals who participated in the protests also gave their testimony.

“The police told us to leave the area which confirms what Professor Butler was saying,” said campus graduate student Amanda Armstrong. “There seemed to be an attempt to disperse the crowd that could not be justified in terms of removing the encampment.”

At the conclusion of the event, board members announced they want to see other videos UCPD has in its possession and any others filed after Nov. 9. The board will then begin to work on making recommendations to the campus administration regarding future responses to campus protests.