Members of BAMN announced Wednesday that they will seek $15 million in a lawsuit filed against UC Berkeley administrators and police for the use of force on demonstrators during the Nov. 9 Occupy Cal protest.
In a press conference on Sproul Plaza Wednesday, organizers said they filed an amended complaint to the lawsuit originally filed against UC Berkeley administrators, UCPD, the Oakland Police Department and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office in November. The amended complaint demands “$7.5 million in compensatory damages for physical and emotional harm and denial of constitutional rights, and $7.5 million in punitive damages.”
Yvette Felarca, a national BAMN organizer and lead plaintiff in the suit, said at the press conference that those involved in the Nov. 9 demonstrations were protesting for their right to an affordable public education and that the decision by police to retaliate with batons was unforgivable.
“We’re doing this to ensure that UC Berkeley and its administration will never take that kind of action against protesters again,” Felarca said.
BAMN attorney Ronald Cruz said the amended lawsuit now includes five additional individuals who were arrested for their involvement in the Nov. 9 demonstration, bringing the total number of plaintiffs to 30. Following the demonstration, 13 protesters were charged for their involvement.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs “were physically and emotionally injured and denied their freedom as a result of the defendants’ police attack and false arrest of people on November 9.”
When the original lawsuit was filed in November, the campus issued a statement saying that the protesters’ lawsuit was filled with inaccuracies.
“(T)he claim that members of the administration are opposed to the ‘protesters’ defense of affordable, public education’ is completely unfounded,” the statement reads.
According to Cruz, the suit will likely not be settled for several years. If they are successful, one-third of the money won in the lawsuit would go towards the legal efforts for the case, while the remainder would be determined for use by BAMN.
“We’re trying to teach the administration a lesson,’ said Matt Williams, a member of BAMN and a 2012 UC Berkeley graduate, at Wednesday’s press conference. “If it takes $15 million, that’s what it takes.”
The Alameda County District Attorney’s office dropped charges for 12 of the 13 protesters charged after Nov. 9, including the stay-away orders issued against Felarca and four others. Presently, Jasper Bernes is the only protester whose charges still stand.
On Friday, members of BAMN were arrested along with high school and community college students at the UCLA admissions office, where they were demanding the campus increase minority student enrollment. Sixteen protesters were cited for unlawful assembly and released at around 10 p.m., Felarca told the Daily Bruin.