Monday, April 2, 2012

UCPD Pushed Alameda County DA to File Criminal Charges against UC Berkeley Protesters

On November 9th, 2011, protestors and police clashed over an encampment that protestors had erected near Sproul Hall.

A quick update on the charges filed by the Alameda County District Attorney against thirteen November 9 protesters -- students, faculty, and community members -- that gives us a better picture about how this whole thing went down. The Chronicle reports that UCPD actively though secretly pressured the DA to go forward with these charges (and, we might reasonably assume, to request the stay-away orders as well) four months after the fact.
Campus police officers . . . took a more private approach to get their message to the district attorney.

They called Ron Cottingham, president of the 62,000-strong Peace Officers Research Association of California, the most powerful police group in the state, and asked him to call the district attorney.

During the subsequent conversation with Chief Assistant District Attorney Kevin Dunleavy, Cottingham was told that no decision had been made, and that, yes, the police would be listened to as well.
Apparently, the cops were pissed off by Chancellor Birgeneau's vacuous letter to the DA, which politely asked the DA to "be sensitive to the context of the campus environment and to the strong feelings this has raised on campus."

No doubt, these are strong words. As is often the case, however, what the letter doesn't say is more revealing than what it does. Birgeneau's letter in no way demanded the charges be dropped. In fact, he goes out of his way to emphasize that the decision rests solely with the DA: "We do not have access to the evidence reviewed by your office showing the actions of individuals, and are not taking a definitive position regarding the appropriateness of individual charges." A convenient suggestion, from the perspective of the administration -- just as they always try to divert protesters' energy by sending them on "a slow boat to Sacramento," their PR strategy is inevitably based on shifting the blame off of themselves and onto other independent actors.

But if we take Birgeneau's words at face value for a second (it's so hard to do, we know, but bear with us just for a second), we are left with the disturbing possibility that UCPD is actually running the show, with literally no accountability whatsoever to the UC administration.

In the end, these details confirm what we wrote last week:
As we've seen recently at UC Berkeley, with the filing of criminal charges as well as stay-away orders against a number of prominent student protesters, UC administrators willingly collaborate with the offices of their respective DAs. In order to do this, the administration sends UCPD to actively search out information ("evidence") against student protesters, which is then forwarded to the DA. At times, this evidence has come from the medical records of students who had sought treatment at University Health Services after being assaulted by the police themselves.
And that's why we say NO COPS NO BOSSES!

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