Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Open Letter to UC Berkeley Administration from 60+ Berkeley Law Faculty

November 16, 2011

Robert J. Birgeneau, Chancellor
George Breslauer, Executive Vice Chancellor
Harry LeGrande, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

Dear Chancellor Birgeneau and Vice Chancellors Breslauer and LeGrande,

We, the undersigned members of the Berkeley Law faculty, write to condemn in the strongest possible terms:
  1. the violence directed against non-violent student, staff and faculty protesters at Sproul Plaza on November 9, 2011;
  2. the temporary detention by police of two law students near the law school on the same day; and
  3. the Chancellor’s public and explicit defense of the police action of November 9, 2011, which made inaccurate distinctions between violent and non-violent civil disobedience and which he apparently signed without having viewed the videos of the incidents at issue.
Sproul Plaza. The First Amendment enshrines the right to assemble peaceably, to speak freely, and to petition for governmental redress of grievances. Interference with these rights, particularly in the form of violence that was visited upon protesters in Sproul Plaza last week, is inexcusable by any government entity, but is particularly troubling at a public university. While the University may enforce its rules, including citing or arresting those engaged in acts of civil disobedience (such as linking arms and refusing to disband), there is no place for instigating violence in a community dedicated to the free exchange of ideas.

Kroeber Plaza. On November 9, in separate incidents, a group of officers detained two Berkeley Law students who were attempting to return to class after participating in the peaceful demonstration at Sproul Hall. The officers detained each student near Kroeber Plaza, though there had been no protest activity at the Plaza or the law school, and the students were simply walking back to class. Ostensibly, the officers were asking for identification. However, the accounts of these incidents provided by the two students and other witnesses – law students and law school faculty and staff – describe police actions that were unwarranted and excessive.

Going Forward. The police conduct at Sproul Plaza, and the humiliating and frightening police activity at Kroeber Plaza, have caused a number of our students to question whether they can safely come and go from the law school, much less exercise their First Amendment rights at our university. In addition to the urgent need for a thorough review of these events – including holding accountable those parties responsible for any actions that violated the civil and political rights of our community members – we call on the administration to:
  1. implement immediately the recommendations of the June 2010 Brazil Police Review Board Report (;
  2. publicly support and defend the rights of community members – and especially our students – to engage in non-violent political expression; and
  3. take all other actions necessary to reestablish Berkeley’s reputation as a beacon of peaceable assembly and free speech.
[Signatures below the fold.]


Kathryn Abrams
Herma Hill Kay Distinguished Professor of Law

Catherine Albiston
Professor of Law

Ty Alper
Assistant Clinical Professor of Law

Roxanna Altholz
Assistant Clinical Professor of Law

Michelle Wilde
Anderson Assistant Professor of Law

Lila Bailey
Clinical Teaching Fellow

Kenneth A. Bamberger
Professor of Law

Ed Barnes

Robert C. Berring, Jr.
Walter Perry Johnson Professor of Law

Martha Brown
Director of Finance and Administration, East Bay Community Law Center

Stephen McG. Bundy
Professor of Law

Richard M. Buxbaum
Jackson H. Ralston Professor of International Law, Emeritus

David Caron
C. William Maxeiner Distinguished Professor of Law

Erin Clarke
Lecturer in Residence

Meir Dan-Cohen
Milo Reese Robbins Professor of Law

Brendan Darrow

Allison Davenport
Clinical Instructor

Holly Doremus
Professor of Law

Sharon Djemal

Lauren B. Edelman
Associate Dean for Jurisprudence and Social Policy
Agnes Roddy Robb Professor of Law and Professor of Sociology

William H.D. Fernholz
Lecturer in Residence

Laurel Fletcher
Clinical Professor of Law

Mary Louise Frampton
Adjunct Professor of Law
Faculty Director, Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice

Mark Gergen
Professor of Law

Jennifer Granholm
Distinguished Practitioner of Law and Public Policy

Rosann Greenspan
Executive Director, Center for the Study of Law and Society

Sheila Hall
Director, Health Law Clinic, East Bay Community Law Center

Henry L. Hecht
Lecturer in Residence

Joan H. Hollinger
Lecturer in Residence

Kristin Holmquist
Lecturer in Residence

Jesse Hsieh
Staff Attorney and Clinical Lecturer, East Bay Community Law Center

Patricia Plunkett Hurley
Lecturer in Residence

Sushil Jacob
Skadden Fellow and Clinical Supervisor, East Bay Community Law Center

Kate Jastram
Lecturer in Residence

Amy Kapczynski
Assistant Professor of Law

William Kell
Lecturer in Residence

Helene Kim
Executive Director and Lecturer in Residence
International and Executive Legal Education

Tanya Koshy
Supervising Attorney, Clean Slate Practice, East Bay Community Law Center

Prasad Krishnamurthy
Assistant Professor of Law

Christopher L. Kutz
Professor of Law

Taeku Lee
Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science Professor, School of Law

Nancy K.D. Lemon

Gillian Lester
Associate Dean and Professor of Law

David Lieberman
Jefferson E. Peyser Professor of Law

Wendy Lilliedoll
Lecturer in Residence

Ian Haney Lopez
John H. Boalt Professor of Law

Stanley Lubman
Distinguished Lecturer in Residence (ret.)

Robert MacCoun
Professor of Law and Public Policy

Justin McCrary
Professor of Law

Peter S. Menell
Robert L. Bridges Professor of Law Director, Berkeley Center for Law & Technology

Alice M. Miller
Lecturer in Residence

Saira Mohamed
Assistant Professor of Law

Melissa Murray
Professor of Law

Osha Neumann
Clinical Instructor, East Bay Community Law Center

Anne Joseph O’Connell
Professor of Law

Jamie O’Connell
Lecturer in Residence

David Oppenheimer
Clinical Professor of Law

Richard Perry
Lecturer in Residence

Victoria C. Plaut
Assistant Professor of Law and Social Science

Kevin Quinn
Professor of Law

Russell Robinson
Professor of Law

Stephen A. Rosenbaum

Bertrall Ross
Assistant Professor of Law

Andrea Roth
Assistant Professor of Law

Lindsay Sturges Saffouri
Lecturer in Residence

Sue Schechter
Field Placement Director

Jason Schultz
Assistant Clinical Professor of Law

Jeffrey Selbin
Clinical Professor of Law

Elisabeth Semel
Clinical Professor of Law

Marjorie M. Shultz
Professor of Law, Emeritus

Lucinda Sikes
Lecturer in Residence

Jonathan Simon
Adrian A. Kragen Professor of Law

Fred Smith
Assistant Professor of Law

Sarah Song
Professor of Law and Associate Professor of Political Science

Tirien Steinbach
Executive Director, East Bay Community Law Center

Eric Stover
Adjunct Professor of Law and Public Health

Talha Syed
Assistant Professor of Law

Eric Talley
Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Professor of Law

Linda Tam
Director, Immigration Clinic, East Bay Community Law Center

Karen Tani
Assistant Professor of Law

Yvonne Troya
Staff Attorney & Clinical Supervisor, East Bay Community Law Center

Jennifer Urban
Assistant Clinical Professor of Law

Leti Volpp
Professor of Law

Kate Weisburd
Lecturer in Residence

Steven Weissman
Lecturer in Residence

Wilda White
Executive Director, Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice

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