Charges against UC Berkeley professor involved in Occupy Cal dropped

Levy Yun/File
A protester holds a sign in front of California Hall to support dropping charges against those arrested in the Nov. 9 Occupy Cal protests. Celeste Langan's charges were dismissed Friday morning.

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OAKLAND — The criminal charges against UC Berkeley associate professor of English Celeste Langan were dismissed at a hearing Friday morning almost six months after her initial arrest at the Nov. 9 Occupy Cal demonstrations.

Langan, one of 13 protesters and the only professor charged after the Nov. 9 demonstrations, faced one charge of obstructing an officer, one charge of obstructing a public place and one charge of remaining at the scene of a riot. She pled not guilty to the charges at preliminary hearings.

Although Langan and Kellin Cooper, Langan’s lawyer, were not present at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse Friday, Dustin Gordon, a partner from Cooper Law Offices, represented her case in front of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Carol Brosnahan.

Last week, Langan said she was informed by her attorney that her charges would be dropped at her hearing on May 4.

At the hearing, Deputy District Attorney Shara Beltramo read a statement saying the district attorney’s office evaluated the evidence and dropped the charges, taking into account Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s withdrawal of support for the charges against all the protesters, including Langan.

According to Beltramo, the timing of the hearing was another factor that led to the dismissal since the end of the school year was approaching.

The use of police force on Nov. 9 was widely condemned, and a review of police procedure used is ongoing at the campus and university level. During the Nov. 9 protest, Langan claims her hair was grabbed and she was forced to the ground by UCPD officers.

However, Langan also mentioned her disappointment in not being able to refute police officers’ claims regarding the Nov. 9 protests.

“In my case it’s almost frustrating, as I won’t have (the) opportunity to challenge the police reports of two Alameda County Sheriff’s officers who claimed that I pushed one of them with both hands in the chest — a complete and utter fabrication,” Langan said in an email earlier this month.

The charges filed against all the demonstrators have also faced considerable criticism and public outcry. The Berkeley Faculty Association circulated a petition in March that currently has 366 signatures asking Birgeneau to request that the charges be dropped.