UC Police hit back on protest violence with open letter

The UC Berkeley Police Officers’ Association says it was not their decision to engage campus protesters on November 9th, claim some of their tactics, which have been widely criticized, were responses to violent protesters, and call out the Cal administration for not standing by the police after asking them to enforce its policies.

The UCB Police Officers’ Association, which represents approximately 64 campus police officers — the full complement in the UCPD — made these statements in an open letter released today. Part of the letter, which is addressed to students, faculty and UC Regents, reads:

“It was not our decision to engage campus protesters on November 9th. We are now faced with ‘managing’ the results of years of poor budget planning. Please know we are not your enemy.

“A video clip gone viral does not depict the full story or the facts leading up to an actual incident. Multiple dispersal requests were given in the days and hours before the tent removal operation. Not caught on most videos were scenes of protesters hitting, pushing, grabbing officers’ batons, fighting back with backpacks and skateboards.”

The video referred to in the letter (and shown above) shows UCPD and Alameda County sheriff’s deputies in riot gear hitting a line of protesters with truncheons. The video has had more than 830,000 views since being published on YouTube and has shown up on national TV shows such as The Colbert Report.

Last week, 13 days after the incidents, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau apologized for the police tactics, saying he took full responsibility for the events that day and would do “his very best to ensure that this does not happen again.”


The November 9th campus confrontation prompted 47 Berkeley faculty members to ask for a special meeting to vote on a resolution of no-confidence in Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Harry Le Grande. The proposal was scaled back over the weekend and its authors are now asking the Academic Senate to oppose “all violent responses to nonviolent protest” and to demand that administrators take concrete steps to ensure “free expression and assembly” on the Cal campus.

The protests were also on the agenda of a UC Board of Regents teleconference held today.

An independent review of the events, ordered by Cal administration, is ongoing.

Read the UCPD Association’s Open Letter in full.

Related:
Chancellor Birgeneau apologizes for Occupy Cal police response [11.22.11]
Poet writes about Occupy Cal, protesters plan next steps [11.21.11]
Councilmember’s open letter re. police force on campus [11.12.11]
Police use of force at Occupy Cal gets national attention [11.11.11]
Occupy Cal arrests total 40 as protesters plan next moves [11.10.11]
After protests and arrests, calm returns to Cal campus [11.10.11]
Protesters vote to set up Occupy Cal camp at UC Berkeley [11.09.11