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Occupy Cal protesters' stay-away orders could be overturned next week

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MARCH 28, 2012

The stay-away orders recently issued against three Occupy Cal protesters could be overturned at a court hearing this week.

Contending the orders are unconstitutional, BAMN attorneys filed a motion and supporting briefs Friday on behalf of three — Yvette Felarca, a BAMN organizer, and UC Berkeley students Joshua Anderson and Zakary Habash — of the 12 protesters to whom the orders were issued. The brief contends that the orders are unconstitutional.

A hearing on the motion will take place Tuesday at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in Oakland.

Thirteen protesters have been presented with criminal charges in relation to the Nov. 9 demonstrations on the UC Berkeley campus. All of them except UC Berkeley associate professor of English Celeste Langan were issued stay-away orders from UC property at their arraignments this month.

“The orders are outrageous and expose the nature of this political witch-hunt that is trying to censor people fighting for public education,” said Ronald Cruz, one of the BAMN attorneys who filed the brief. “It’s completely unprecedented and cannot stand — we will fight.”

Under the stay-away orders, the protesters are not allowed within 100 yards of any campus property except for class- and work-related duties. The orders are intended to be eventually negotiated as part of the the ongoing litigation.

“(The orders) set dangerous precedents,” reads the brief. “If allowed to stand, these ‘bail conditions’ will allow the University of California and the DA to ban any individual from entering a public university and exercising his or her First Amendment rights, simply by asserting that the individual is associated with a group that has supposedly committed misdemeanors.”

At the hearing, both sides will make their arguments on the issue, and the judge will then decide whether or not to overturn the stay-away orders, according to Cruz. He added that if the orders are not overturned, he thinks the judge is “signing off to this political witch hunt.”

Christine Rosen, associate professor at the Haas School of Business, said she thinks it seems as if the stay-away orders are meant to stifle the leaders of the student activist movement. Rosen is also co-chair of the Berkeley Faculty Association, which started a petition earlier this month asking for UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau to send a letter to the district attorney requesting that the charges against the 13 be dropped.

“I don’t really quite understand how the DA of Alameda County and the county court could actually do it — it just seems very outrageous,” she said.

Contact Sara Khan at 


APRIL 02, 2012

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