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East Bay | Education & Student Activism | Police State and Prisons

Statement Read at Today's UC8 Press Conference by Detained and Arrested Reporter, 12/15/09
by dave id
Tuesday Dec 15th, 2009 9:02 PM
I read the following factual statement at today's press conference after John Viola of the NLG and a student representative spoke.
My name is David and I've been reporting on the social justice, anti-war, and animal rights movements on Indybay.org for the last 5-6 years. For the last month, I have also been covering the student-led demonstrations in the Bay Area. On the night of December 11th, I was covering one such demonstration.

When the UC police arrived the patrol car stopped right in front of me. I never attempted to flee in any way as I assumed that because I was a journalist I had nothing to fear. The UC officers stepped out of their car and approached me. The very first thing Officer Wycoff said to me was that he wanted my camera, that I was being detained and he wanted my camera. I immediately identified myself as a journalist, that I had a press pass, but they took my camera, handcuffed me, and placed me into the back of the patrol car. At a later point, I told the police that I did not think it was legal for them to detain me and take my camera as they had. Officer Wycoff told me that I was not a lawyer so "shut the fuck up."

About two hours later, police told me that I was under arrest for felony vandalism and riot. I was taken to Santa Rita with others who appear to have been randomly arrested. I remained handcuffed for over three hours and spent the night in various holding cells being processed into Santa Rita. By 9am, I was in general population in the lower-C pod in building 33 West with hundreds of other inmates. The first effort to make bail failed when the original two charges were ridiculously raised to six felony counts including battery on an officer and attempted arson. My bond then jumped to over $130,000 and I was forced to borrow $13,000 for a non-refundable bail to secure my release from jail.

UC's behavior throughout has been attrocious, from initially detaining then arresting me, to the hyperbolic public relations efforts that never mentioned arresting a journalist.

I want to also say that I'm not the only independent journalist to be treated as such in Alameda County this year. JR Valrey continues to face bogus felony charges placed on him as he reported on street demonstrations in January.

Thank you.

------------------------------------------------

Forthcoming over the next couple of weeks, I will be posting a detailed account of related events in a series to be published on Indybay.org.


Comments  (Hide Comments)

by cp
Wednesday Dec 16th, 2009 7:36 AM
Thanks for being able to report on what happened there.

For reference - here is an earlier case where a different member of the local sf.indymedia.org was illegally detained, and had film taken from his camera.

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2002/05/04/1262021.php?show_comments=1
(Look at the second clip)

The department involved as the Berkeley police department rather than UCPD, and the intersection is Fulton and Ashby. Earlier that day, a group of people had gathered for an advertised May Day Reclaim the Streets walk. At Ashby and College, the crowd stopped to paint chalk on the street and listen to music. Police did not quickly move everyone out of the street for 10-15 minutes, but they seemed to get short-tempered at this point and pressured people to start moving again. About 12 blocks down Ashby, the video link above starts. One first sees officers focus on a boy, who might have been tagging parking meters with a pen. The crowd shifts their focus to this.

Then, towards the rear of the crowd, someone wearing black suddenly grabs a man in blue and hands him to officers to be arrested or detained. The man in blue sweatshirt was actually with Sf.indymedia.org, primarily a programmer who wrote the website code, but also sometimes filming events. The man in black sweatshirt is an plainclothes officer.
I heard that the officer involved drove him a few blocks away, took the film from his camera, then let him go- which is cheaper than paying bail. Perhaps the reason he was stopped was because he took a photo of the plainclothes.
Note that no one else in the crowd has a bandanna on their face. Most of the crowd didn't see this at all, and it is unclear why he was being detained. Actually, the videographer shooting this footage (who has to dance around a bit, and has trouble getting in a good position) is one of the only people there who quickly figures out what is going on- and this is why he yells 'aiders and abetters, framers' and 'who is that guy' at the end, demanding to know the identity of black-hoodie officer. Hardly anyone else at the scene was able to pick out what had just happened because there was too much motion going on as the undercover slipped away, and most were focused on boy detained for graffiti
In 2002, only a few people regularly used video cameras because they used Super 8 tape, and you needed to be able to convert to digital .mpeg or .mov format to upload film clips, although Indymedia code was fairly advanced in accepting audio and video since 2000.
by Tomoaki Hirai
Thursday Dec 17th, 2009 8:37 PM
David,

I was calling around Berkeley trying to find you last Monday to see if I could confirm if you were a journalist or not. Looks like you are.

I'm pretty sure what they did to you is illegal. Are there any plans to address this issue publicly? As freelancer myself, your story concerned me greatly. Let me know more about that night if you can, would be great to work with you or help in any way I can.

Tomo