Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Birgeneau Gets Served

And not just Birgeneau. A class action lawsuit has been filed in federal court against a number of UC Berkeley officials by members of the Wheeler 66, who were arrested without warning in the middle of the night during the Live Week occupation in December 2009. The Daily Cal reports:
Six individuals, including former and current UC Berkeley students, have filed a federal class action lawsuit alleging that four campus officials violated their constitutional rights by punitively arresting and jailing 66 people participating in a December 2009 demonstration.

According to the complaint — filed Oct. 7 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California — the plaintiffs seek damages for violations they alleged to have occurred during the “Open University” demonstration in Wheeler Hall, which occurred from Dec. 7 to Dec. 11, 2009.

The four campus officials — Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Harry Le Grande, UCPD Chief Mitch Celaya and UCPD Lt. Marc DeCoulode — were served with the complaint Monday afternoon, said Kevin Brunner, an attorney with Siegel and Yee, the law firm representing the individuals filing the lawsuit.

The complaint seeks to stop the officials from continuing what it alleges is a policy of sending nonviolent detainees taken into custody during campus protests to the Alameda County Jail rather than citing and releasing them.

“The policy of jailing non-violent protestors is punitive and a violation of the protestors’ rights to freedom of speech and assembly,” the complaint states.

According to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore, the lawsuit is still being reviewed by campus counsel.

“We can’t comment on the details of the lawsuit at this time because it is still being reviewed by counsel,” she said. “Nevertheless, we are confident that the university’s actions were legally justified.”

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