Sunday, December 11, 2011

On the UCPD's 5150 detention of Alex Kim (Update: Alex has been released)

Update (11:31, Sunday evening): Alex has been released from Alta Bates.


Last Wednesday evening, as I sat on the Mario Savio Steps in front of Sproul Hall waiting for the Peoples’ Police Review Board meeting to begin, Alex Kim greeted me and silently handed me a small flower. Each time I visit the site of our Occupy Cal encampment, I look forward to seeing him and hearing him play the violin or just adding a bit of friendliness to our little community. Alex has continuously occupied our encampment since the day it was erected, and beginning in late November, he took a voluntary vow of silence as a means of nonviolent protest.

At 4:38 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, Alex was approached by UCPD officers who grabbed and handcuffed him before taking him away. According to several witnesses, police officers responded that he was arrested under Section 5150 of the California Welfare Institutions Code, which states, “When any person, as a result of mental disorder, is a danger to others, or to himself or herself, or gravely disabled,” he or she can be taken to “a facility designated by the county and approved by the State Department of Mental Health as a facility for 72-hour treatment and evaluation.” In other words, as a result of his choice to remain silent, Alex was deemed mentally unfit. But we understand that this was not the real reason for his arrest; rather, Alex was targeted for his dedication to the Occupy Movement.

As someone who knows Alex, I believe that this is a truly abhorrent abuse of police power—one that threatens all of us with arbitrary and psychologically damaging detentions under the auspices of public safety. Not only have our freedoms of assembly and speech been repressed, but now, even our constitutional right to remain silent is being actively undermined.

-Beezer de Martelly

image from the daily cal.


  1. His release, only a few hours after they took him in, is an embarrassment for UCPD.

  2. We are very relieved that Alex, our son, is sound and safe to continue his righteous journey after this UCPD's arbitrary abuse of power. We thank you so much for this prompt news report.

  3. Way to go, admin and UCPD, for using a hospital inpatient unit for the seriously mentally ill as a holding cell for a political activist. This student took a vow of silence because free speech policies on campus are a joke. This proves his point better than any coordinated publicity campaign ever could.

  4. It looks like the psychiatry side of things here is not falling for UC/UCPD's attempt to abuse 5150. That's good; in some places the psychiatrists are all on the "team" with the administrators.

    I feel like there is no check to keep UC from trying to abuse the system again, unless someone sues. I would love to see the cops and administrators who ordered this subjected to a psychiatric evaluation themselves for every failed attempt; they wouldn't last a day.

  5. He should sue the UCPD for wrongful arrest. This is outrageous!