Chancellor Robert Birgeneau issued an apology today for police tactics during Occupy Cal protests on November 9 on campus.
In a recording made while en route to spending Thanksgiving with his children and grandchildren on the East Coast, Birgeneau said he took full responsibility for the events that day and would do “his very best to ensure that this does not happen again.”
The manner in which the police handled Occupy Cal protesters on that November night has come under scrutiny and attracted attention.
Videos taken on the scene (including one published on Berkeleyside) show UCPD and Alameda County sheriff’s deputies in riot gear hitting a line of protesters with truncheons after they refused to leave an area outside the campus administration building.
Many students and several faculty members were beaten and, in at least one case, dragged to the ground by the hair. Cal poetry professor Robert Hass wrote about his experience of being injured during the clashes in an op-ed piece for the New York Times on Sunday titled “Poet-Bashing Police”.
Birgeneau’s apology comes one day after Linda Katehi, Chancellor of UC Davis, apologized to thousands of students attending a rally on campus to protest the use of pepper spray by police last Friday.
Later Monday, Mark Yudof, the president of the UC system, held a meeting with chancellors from the 10 UC campuses ”and asserted that they must do everything possible to protect the rights of students, faculty and staff to peaceful protest,” according to a statement released by his office.
Twenty Cal students intend to file a lawsuit against UC Berkeley administrators, the UC Police Department, and Alameda County Sheriff’s officers tomorrow demanding compensation for police brutality and false arrest, and the violation of students’ First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights.
Birgeneau said he wanted the ongoing review of the Berkeley events on November 9 to be completed as soon as possible. “I pledge to follow up aggressively to implement its recommendations. We will improve our performance.”
Listen to the full audio recording of Birgeneau’s statement on the UC Berkeley News Center website.
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