Berkeley City Council to consider proposal to request dropping charges against UC Berkeley worker

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At Berkeley City Council’s regular Tuesday meeting, council members will consider making a request to the Alameda County district attorney to drop charges against David Cole, a UC employee who was tackled and arrested by UCPD during a workers’ rally Feb. 1.

Cole, who is a member of AFSCME Local 3299, the University of California’s largest worker union, was charged with resisting arrest and vandalism and was released from detainment that same day.

Councilmember Kriss Worthington made this recommendation and said that if the request is approved, City Council will send a message to the district attorney encouraging them to look more closely into the situation. The overall objective of the item is to drop the charges against Cole and “to show Cole and other workers that the city cares about them,” Worthington said.

“Many community members have expressed concerns that there appears to have been an overreaction and an excessive use of force on the part of the police. If these charges are not dropped, this case could exacerbate existing tensions between the community and the police,” Worthington said in the draft of the item. “In light of this, we respectfully request that your office drop the charges against David Cole.”

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, spokesperson John de los Angeles alleged Cole was taken down with excessive force, making the charge of resisting arrest questionable. While Cole is on leave, AFSCME has been assisting Cole by advocating on his behalf and ensuring that he is represented in court, according to de los Angeles.  

“We think this incident with David Cole really underscores the inequality we were trying to highlight that day,” de los Angeles said.

There is no guarantee that any district attorney will respond, according to Worthington, but he said he hopes to bring attention to bigger issues and injustices with this request.

Contact Andreana Chou at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @AndreanaChou.