As many of you no doubt know, our colleague Celeste Langan and 10 students have been formally charged by Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley in connection with the protests on November 9th. Crucially, those charged are not limited to those who were arrested that day, and there is reason to believe that those singled out within this category were chosen for their prominent roles in the movement to restore public education. This is to me nearly as disturbing as the events of November 9th themselves, and potentially far more chilling of free speech than any specific instance of police brutality. In effect we are being told that:
-- Any protester on campus is at risk of prosecution, regardless of her level of involvement in an event and/or arrest.At the very least, it seems to me we should put pressure on Birgeneau to take a public stand on the issue of these charges. Ideally he'd publicly request of O'Malley that the charges be dropped, but at the very least the administration should not be allowed to separate itself from this development merely because it is technically beyond a UCB purview.
-- The UCPD, ostensibly designed to protect and serve campus values, of which free speech must be one, will routinely invoke mutual aid, invite riot cops onto our campus, and then hand over evidence to public bodies with no commitment to campus values whatsoever.
-- Chancellor Birgeneau's declaration of amnesty under the Student Code of Conduct is rendered at once moot and cosmetic because it does not apply to those who were not arrested but face public charges and because it doesn't protect any protester from those charges.
-- Processes like the Police Review Board must be seen in a new light as strategic sites of data collection, since those who have testified there may have their testimony and that of others used against them.
To that end, several concerned people (undergrads, grads, and faculty) met informally last night to discuss possible responses. In addition to identifying the need for a swift editorial campaign (I believe the first arraignments, including Celeste's, are scheduled for 3/16), we decided on a picket of California Hall starting Monday at noon. It's not being called for by any particular group, nor should it have to be; it's a spontaneous response to this latest outrage by those in the community who are at risk (namely, all of us) and who stand in solidarity with those charged. I urge you all to come on Monday at 12pm so that our numbers are meaningful and our voices loud enough to reach those inside.