UCPD’s response to a UC workers’ rally organized Feb. 1 makes it clear that the campus needs to implement more oversight for its police officers.
During the rally, UCPD officers tackled and arrested UC Berkeley employee David Cole. Campus spokesperson Roqua Montez previously told The Daily Californian that Cole ran toward and threw a sign at a vehicle that was attempting to go through the crowd of protesters, before allegedly approaching the driver in a “threatening and aggressive manner.”
A video of the incident shows several UCPD officers throwing Cole to the ground, sitting on him and putting him in handcuffs. Montez said officers responded because Cole allegedly became uncooperative during the arrest.
Community members gathered to protest the unfair treatment of UC workers, and then one of those workers was body-slammed and arrested. How appropriate.
Obviously, the role of police is to keep people safe during protests, but they can’t do that by violently arresting people. UCPD officers should be trained to handle demonstrations without having to turn to violence. This is UC Berkeley, after all, where there are protests nearly every week. If officers don’t know how to respond to these situations peacefully, then there needs to be better training in place to teach them.
In a campuswide email Tuesday, campus officials announced that they’re planning to hire an independent and external organization to review UCPD’s actions during the protest. Although an ad-hoc external review is good, it’s not structural change.
The campus needs more institutional oversight, and ASUC Senator Juniperangelica Cordova-Goff’s recently passed resolutions are an encouraging first step: The first resolution directs administrators to resurrect the UC Berkeley Police Review Board and the second establishes a student review commission as a sub-body of the board. But without buy-in from UCPD, there’s no guarantee these commissions will have any teeth.
No one should fear being aggressively mistreated by a UCPD officer. UC Berkeley needs to tackle systemic police misconduct head-on instead of tackling campus employees who are just doing their best to stand up for their rights.