Sunday, April 8, 2012

Call Campaign to Drop the Charges [Update]

[Update 3/10 12:45pm]: Regarding the first day of the call campaign (yesterday), a comrade writes, "So many thanks to everyone who made calls to the DA's office today -- evidently, the phones were jammed up or busy for much of the day. If you haven't made a call yet or are open to doing it again, we're hoping to have the phone calls continue for another couple of days, so that we create a lasting problem for an office evidently divided on the question of whether to press the charges."

On April 9th – 11th, we’re calling District Attorney Nancy O’Malley and asking that she drop the charges on the Sproul 13. Please join us! It only takes a few minutes…

Last November 9, UC Berkeley students, staff and faculty tried to set up a small encampment on campus, in solidarity with the then-burgeoning Occupy movement and in opposition to the ongoing privatization of the UC. Campus police and Alameda County Sheriffs viciously beat the students in order to stop the tents from going up. This incident, captured on videotape, sparked international outrage. Nonviolent protesters were dragged to the ground by the hair, hit over the head with batons, and sent to the hospital with broken ribs. The event was a scandal for the campus police and the administration, and the Chancellor eventually admitted that he took “full responsibility for [the] events” and offered amnesty under the campus code of conduct to everyone arrested that day. You can watch the videos of the events here:

Now, nearly four months after the fact, 13 people are being charged with misdemeanors for the events of November 9, even though most of them were never arrested. Their charges include obstruction of a thoroughfare, resisting arrest, battery on a peace officer and remaining at the scene of the riot. Conviction on these charges could bring, at worst, up to a year of jail time. Despite the Chancellor’s promise of amnesty, the UC Berkeley police forwarded cases to the DA, recommending charges for 12 students and one professor. What’s worse: the DA recently issued stay-away orders for 12 of the protesters, telling them they could only set foot on UC property for “lawful” purposes, such as attending class. After public pressure from government officials, the DA has rescinded these orders, but they remain evidence of the vindictive arrogance of the prosecutors.

The charges against the Sproul 13 set a troubling precedent. Students who protest the rising tuition and mounting indebtedness that follows in the wake of the privatization of the University should now fear that, at any time in the future, they might receive a letter in the mail, carrying with it the threat of jail. These unfounded charges have already produced strong responses at Berkeley and beyond. The faculty associations of Berkeley and Irvine have condemned the charges, and called on Chancellor Birgeneau to stand with them. The Graduate Assembly at Berkeley has called for the charges to be dropped, as has UAW 2865, the graduate student union. The Berkeley City Council passed a resolution calling for the charges to be dropped. And the ACLU has issued a letter putting the circumstances of the charges into question. This is, of course, in addition to the widespread outrage about the role of the police and the administration that day.

On April 9th – 11th, we’re calling the Alameda County DA’s office and telling her to listen to all of these groups and drop the charges against the Sproul 13. Please join us and tell her that no one should be charged following the shameful events on November 9.

If you have five minutes, also call Chancellor Birgeneau, and ask him to publicly call on DA Nancy O’Malley to drop the charges.

We believe that a wave of phone calls, at this moment, could prompt the DA to rescind all charges. Please help us by making a few calls this Monday through Wednesday.

District Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s phone #: (510) 272-6222; (510) 268-7500; email:

Chancellor Birgeneau's phone #: (510) 642-7464; email:

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