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UC Berkeley Served With 15 Million Lawsuit For Police Brutality On Occupy Protesters
by Mary Ann Uribe
Thursday Jun 21st, 2012 4:10 PM
UC Berkeley served with 15 million dollar federal lawsuit on behalf of 30 plaintiffs for police brutality and "UCB's political witch hunt" as a result of November 9, 2011 Occupy protest on campus and later arrest.
On Wednesday, June 13, 2012 attorneys Ron Cruz and Monica Smith, served a $15 million federal lawsuit on behalf of 30 plaintiffs on UC-Berkeley administrators and police for police brutality, false arrest, retaliatory prosecution and civil rights violations of Occupy Cal protesters who participated in a demonstration on the campus on November 9, 2011. The lawsuit asks for redress and damages calling the University's actions against the plaintiffs “..UCB’s political witch hunt against protesters.”

The lawsuit names as defendants UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgenau, Executive Vice Chancellor, George Breslauer, Harry LeGrande, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Linda Williams, Associate Chancellor, John Wilton, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance, Claire Holmes, Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs and Communications, Mitchell Celaya, Chief of the University of California Police Department at Berkeley, Gregory Ahern, Chief of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, Howard Jordan, Chief of the Oakland Police Department, Alameda County Sheriff’s Deputy Chavez, UC Berkeley Detective Rick Florendo, police officers Garcia, N. Hernandes, King, Lachler, Obichere and Roma and Does 1-100. The allegation of Does allows the attorneys to amend the complaint later to bring in more defendants as the case proceeds in federal court.

Lead plaintiff and BAMN national organizer, Yvette Felarca, stated “We demand justice. Education is a right, and people fighting to defend it should not be met with brutality and a political witchhunt by UC-Berkeley or any other university administration,” She was the first person struck and the target of multiple baton blows in the YouTube video that went viral of November 9 police brutality.

Felarca went on to say “We want this to set the precedent for every university administration that they will not attack our right to protest for public education. Through the course of this lawsuit, we will use every means at our disposal, including legal and direct action, to expose UC-Berkeley’s policy of political suppression and win justice”.

The federal complaint was newly amended since it was originally filed with the U.S. District Court last November to add a demand of $7.5 million in compensatory damages for physical and emotional harm and denial of constitutional rights as well as $7.5 million in punitive damages.

In March, 2012 the University and Alameda County District Attorney’s office charged Felarca and 11 other plaintiffs with misdemeanor charges and imposed illegitimate stay-away orders banning her and 12 other protesers from all UC property. All the stay-away orders were dismissed by the Alameda District Attorney’s office after attorney Ron Cruz filed a motion objecting to the orders. The vast majority of the criminal charges have been dismissed against all the people who were charged criminally.

In a statement attorney Ron Cruz declared “The amended lawsuit now includes five more individuals who were arrested November 9, 2011 demanding redress for false arrest, bringing the total number of plaintiffs to thirty. Also, five of the plaintiffs who joined this lawsuit last November were subsequently prosecuted on bogus criminal charges by the University—a clear case of retaliatory prosecution for filing this lawsuit and being outspoken leaders in the movement.”