Tuesday, November 15, 2011

UC Regents Cancel Meeting Over Potential Danger; UC Berkeley Investigates Police Brutality Allegations

By Doug Oakley
Staff Writer
The University of California Board of Regents is canceling a meeting this week in San Francisco after law enforcement officials warned of "a real danger of significant violence and vandalism."
And in a move related to allegations of police brutality at UC Berkeley during demonstrations last week, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau on Monday ordered an immediate review of police action last Wednesday when police clashed with Occupy Cal protesters who refused to remove tents set up on Sproul Plaza.
The statement from Birgeneau comes on the eve of a student strike set for Tuesday, also organized by Occupy Cal.
In a statement Monday, UC Regents Chairwoman Sherry Lansing and President Mark Yudof said regents will reschedule their bimonthly meeting and possibly hold it at another venue. Students upset about tuition increases were set to protest the Wednesday and Thursday meetings on UC San Francisco's Mission Bay campus.
Lansing and Yudof say law enforcement officials advised them that "rogue elements intent on violence and confrontation" with campus police were planning on attending planned peaceful demonstrations.
At the UC Berkeley campus, Birgeneau said videos showing students being beaten by police Wednesday were "very disturbing." During that protest, students stood and linked arms in front of police who were trying to take down tents set up on Sproul Plaza.
"These videos are very disturbing," Birgeneau said. "The events of last Wednesday are unworthy of us as a university community."
Birgeneau also offered amnesty under the Student Code of Conduct for any Berkeley student who was arrested and cited "solely for attempting to block the police in removing the Occupy Cal encampment."
Birgeneau said he had been out of town on a trip to Asia during the Wednesday demonstration and only had a chance to look at the videos on Sunday when he returned.
The police review, he said, will be undertaken by the school's Police Review Board. Birgeneau said University Police Chief Mitch Celaya ordered a separate review that will be headed by "a senior member of the command staff at one of our sister UC campuses."
Interviewed last week about the videos, Celaya said: "I would have preferred there would not have been confrontation or acts of violence on behalf of the protesters. The protesters had a choice to move, and they chose not to, and they chose physical confrontation."
In addition to the Tuesday strike at UC Berkeley, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich will deliver a lecture on class warfare on the steps of Sproul Plaza at 8 p.m.
Reich, a professor of public policy at the school, is giving the 15th annual Mario Savio Memorial Lecture, which honors the man who was the spokesman for the free speech movement in 1964.
The speech had been set for a ballroom at UC Berkeley. Occupy Cal asked Reich to transfer the event to the plaza, where they will be rallying during the day.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact Doug Oakley at 510-843-1408. Follow him at Twitter.com/douglasoakley.

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