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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Education & Student Activism | Police State and Prisons
UC-PD Silence Free Speech @ Occupy Berkeley
'You may gather 24/7 over the next week... our policy though is no encampments which means no tents, no sleeping bags, no fires for cooking, no sleeping" - UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Harry Le Grande
Occupy UC Berkeley was given terms from the UC which severely restricted the student's rights to assembly and free speech. Occupy UC was also met with police abuses, including searching and demanding ID from people at random, as well as physical violence on protesters.
The report of injury was posted on the Twitter board: "Josh Stephens, English Dept Phd & instructor, in urgent care after a beating from UCPD for setting up a tent at #OccupyCal." Another injured protester, a student, returned to Sproul Plaza and was interviewed for tv news after having his damaged hand set and wrapped.
Yet the UC Berkeley were firm in the their statements to the public and to the media: the scene has been quite all day, there have been no injuries.
The terms the UC tried to place on the students went beyond no tents. Students were denied sleeping bags, and even denied the right to sleep at night. Even in the event of rain, no tents would be allowed, only tarps. The protest was only permitted for one week. Amplified sound was only permitted three hours a day; from noon til 1PM, and from 5PM to 7PM. Further restrictions came from the police, including no signs or banners, and no bullhorns (even if not in use).
UC Berkeley police also searched any large backpacks and demanded the ID from individuals wearing large backpacks. UC police stopped and searched at least one medic. The police believed the red cross symbol to be a ruse, and thus searched through the medic's supplies.
When asked who decides if the police move in and shut down the camp, UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs answered that police chief Mitch Celaya was making the determination on his own when and how the assembly was to be broken up. Even the call for mutual aid from Oakland PD and the Alameda County Sheriffs Department was issued with no input from the Vice Chancellors, the Chancellor, or from the UC Regents. The police had complete autonomy and no oversight.
The massive police presence seemed to have no clear objectives. The stairs leading to the entrance were cleared by force, but the police and sheriffs receded from that territory, giving it back to the students. Likewise an area of lawn was cleared by police violence, but the police line gradually backed up over the course of the evening as the crowd refused to give up the space.
Chancellor Robert Birgeneau issued a press release: “We simply cannot afford to spend our precious resources and, in particular, student tuition, on costly and avoidable expenses associated with violence or vandalism.” However, Occupy UC had committed themselves to non-violence. As well, the were trying to set up camp in a public open space adjacent to the UC police station, where their commitment would be transparent. The cost of the police action against the students, the expenses of the UC's resources, have not been publicly disclosed. There were no disclosed cost comparisons between monitoring a peaceful protest versus police raids and blockades against the occupation.
no tents, no sleeping bags, no sleeping. 3 hours of amplified sound only.
no signs, banners, or bullhorns
the police are granted power to make the call when the occupation is to be broken up with no oversight or input
A red cross is clearly on the backpack. briefly visible in the film, there is a red cross on the medic's jacket as well.