Stay-away orders against Occupy Cal protesters disputed

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This week, a dozen Occupy Cal protesters were issued orders to stay away from the UC Berkeley campus.

Since many of those issued the orders are students, all 12 maintain their innocence, and none of the protesters have been convicted yet, concerns have been raised about the fairness of these orders.

Thirteen protesters were presented with criminal charges earlier this month in relation to the turbulent Nov. 9 protests on campus. This week, 12 of the 13 — all except campus associate professor of English Celeste Langan — were issued stay-away orders during their arraignments, allowing them on campus only under certain circumstances.

Deputy District Attorney Teresa Drenick said she believes that courts issue stay-away orders “from places where property damage has occurred or violence has erupted.”

However, objections to the stay-away orders voiced in court were met with a lack of explanation from the judge.

Most of 13 were charged with resisting arrest and obstructing a public place, some were charged with battery on an officer and none had charges explicitly related to property crimes.

UC Berkeley School of Law professor Jonathan Simon said in an email that court-issued stay-away orders in general are “a very serious infringement of fundamental rights” and “should never be used unless a very credible threat exists,” but that they are “not uncommon” when there are concerns about ongoing violations.

According to Drenick, the stay-away orders mandate that the 12 are not allowed within 100 yards of any campus property, except when fulfilling class-related or employment duties.

UCPD spokesperson Lt. Eric Tejada said that if the protesters are found violating a stay-away order, the police department will evaluate whether to arrest them.

Drenick added that the orders are custom-tailored to each student — for instance, they allow a student who resides in a co-op on university property to continue doing so.

Still, ACLU-Northern California attorney Linda Lye called the stay-away orders “unjustified at the outset” and  “dramatically over-broad.”

“This shuts down speech before it happens, which is fundamentally at odds with our approach to democracy,” she said.

Protesters and their attorneys plan to fight the orders in court.

“These orders are an attack on the movement and on our right to criticize and participate in political activity,” said BAMN organizer Yvette Felarca, one of the charged protesters, in an email.

According to BAMN attorney Ronald Cruz, the protesters are barred from using campus-owned facilities such as the Recreational Sports Facility and from attending  club meetings.

“This is like someone getting exiled,” said BAMN attorney Monica Smith.

Drenick declined to comment on the possibility that these stay-away orders could limit students’ roles and experiences in the campus community.

Smith and Cruz said they believe the university was involved in these orders, because the orders specifically apply to university property alone.

But campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore denied that the campus administration had any hand in the issuing of the stay-away orders, and said she hopes “an arrangement can be worked out in which members of the university community who agree to comply with law and policy can have their full access to the campus restored.”

The orders can be negotiated as cases move forward, but they are effective immediately, Drenick said.