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UC Berkeley Declares Prohibition on Chalking, Pirate Party Responds
by Piratenpartei
Wednesday Sep 4th, 2013 6:31 PM
On Sept 3rd (2013), a registered member of the Pirate Party was detained by UC Berkeley police for chalking slogans at the southern boundary of the UC Berkeley campus, the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement. UC Berkeley took the Pirate's ID, for an "non-criminal incident", at which point it was explained that the UC is interested in pursuing monetary restitution for the removal of standard, non-toxic, wash away with water, sidewalk chalk. Furthermore, it was explained that any continued chalking or attempts at chalking will lead to an exclusion order. The Pirate Party is prepared to challenge the UC in court to reiterate the legality of chalking on UC property.
On Sept 3rd, UC Berkeley Officer Labat (sometimes called Labat Blue, or Labat Ice), ordered the cessation of chalking on UC Berkeley campus. The slogans written south of Sproul Plaza are as follows: "Janet Napolitano's University of Homeland Security", "UC-DHS BE READY TO SHOW ID", as well as a separate double-slogan "Free Manning Free Barrett Brown".

The transcript of Officer Labat's police order to stop chalking is as follows:

Transcript of Labat, UC Berkeley Badge 39
Video recording available:

Labat: "I need your ID."
Pirate: "For what?"
Labat: "Rules violation, for chalking on university property."
Pirate: "It's not against the rules for non students to chalk."
Labat: "I need your ID"
Pirate: "I will give it to you in protest."
Labat: "That's fine."
Pirate: "Well do you have the rule itself?"
Labat: "I'm gonna have the university official come here and explain it to you." [This never occurred. No university official ever arrived on scene, only more police.]
Pirate: "Well, then I'll wait."
Labat: "I need your ID right now."
Pirate: "You're sure?"
Labat: "Yep."
Pirate: "You're positive?"
Labat: "You're being detained." [Key moment in incident, where police declares detainment.]
Pirate: "I'm being detained?"
Labat: "You're being detained for vandalism right now."
Pirate: "Have the rules changed?"
Labat: "I don't know the rules on chalking, but we are gonna find out from a university official." [This never occurs. No university official arrives on scene, only more police.]
Pirate: "So you don't know the rules, but you're saying I've broken the rules."
Labat: "So right now you're being detained for vandalism."
Pirate: "Even though you're not sure?"
Labat: "No, I'm sure this is vandalism."
Pirate: "But you're not sure what the rules are."
Labat: "You're not affiliated, so we're going to figure it out."
Pirate: "What are you going to do if you're wrong?"
Labat: [Demands ID again]

No university official arrives on scene. Only two more UC Berkeley police officers arrive: Officer Sanchez and Officer Ellis. Ellis does not speak, stands away from the incident. Officer Sanchez states her interpretation of the First Amendment as it applies to campus.

The transcript of Officer Sanchez's official police statement is as follows:

Transcript of Sanchez, UC Berkeley Badge 39
Video recording available:

Sanchez: "It's not something the university would chose to keep there."
Pirate: "Okay."
Sanchez: "So we are going to have to write you down on a non criminal incident report, the person who was chalking this."
Pirate: "Can you show me that in writing?"
Sanchez: "We can give you a case number if you'd like."
Pirate: "Well do you have the policy in writing?"
Sanchez: "No, I'm telling you what's going to happen. We're going to write down that you were the one who chalked this. And it will be up to the university whether they charge you for the clean up. I'm gonna give you the best advice I can give you not to do this again. Cause as you know the university has deep pocket and they may in fact come after you for the clean up costs. But that's not y'know within my scope of business."
Pirate: "They have deep pockets so they would come after me for the clean up costs?"
Sanchez: "Right. They would have the resources to ask you for the money. They have attorneys to ask you for the clean up costs."
Pirate: "You have an attorney who is cheaper than a janitor?"
Sanchez: "Anyways. is that clear?"
Pirate: "You're not being clear if I can continue, what happens if I continue, you're not being clear at all."
Sanchez: "When the students are chalking, its within a certain time frame, like during ASUC senate runnings and all that. They have a time and place to do it."
Pirate: "I don't believe you."
Sanchez: "They do have a time and place."
Pirate: "Time and place, you just can't free speech any time and place. Janet Napolitano has her rules. Things are changing now."
Sanchez: "This is not... go out to the city streets and do that."
Pirate: "A better sentence would be that the university doesn't have deep pockets and therefore can't afford to clean it up. But you're statement was the university is loaded, therefore instead of just cleaning it up, they are going to spend even more money going to court under the assumption I'm not to apply for trial. So I'm going to continue? Not continue? What's the deal?"
Sanchez: "I'm gonna ask you not to continue, because I'm going to gave to..."
Pirate: "But what it I continue, I know you are telling me not to, but what if I continue?"
Sanchez: "Then I'm going to exclude from the campus."
Pirate: "Really?"
Sanchez: "Really. I would."
Pirate: "Based on what?"
Sanchez: "Your'e disrupting me from doing my work, I have to get someone to come clean this up. You understand, this is not normal."
Pirate: "You have to?"
Sanchez: "I do"
Pirate: "This is not normal?"
Sanchez: "This is not normal."

Lastly, UC Berkeley police chief Margo Bennett made an official statement on behalf of the University of California in regards to the threat of a lawsuit to obtain clean-up costs from the removal of washable with water, non-toxic sidewalk chalk. Bennett was watching the UC police officers from a distance. The chief was approached and asked to clarify if chalking on campus is illegal. The chief never makes a definitive statement that "chalking on campus is illegal".

The transcript of police chief Bennett's official statement is as follows:

Transcript of Bennett, UC Berkeley Badge 39
Video recording available:

Pirate: Marge.
Bennett: Hi, how Are you?
Pirate: Is it illegal to chalk on campus?
Bennett: Is it illegal to do what?
Pirate: Chalk.
Bennett: Talk?
Pirate: Chalk.
Bennett: Chalk.
Pirate: Chalk.
Bennett: Chalk on campus.
Pirate: Non student.
Bennett: Chalk on campus, you should not be doing that, and they can enforce that.
Pirate; Is it illegal?
Bennett: Yes, in a sense...
Pirate: Is it illegal? Not in a sense, not should be doing that or not. Is it illegal?
Bennett: There are codes on the books against chalking...
Pirate: Is it illegal?
Bennett: Yeah, I think that says you can't do it...The rules are saying you can't do it.
Pirate: It is illegal? Just say the sentence "it is illegal to chalk."
Bennett: Ha ha.. come see me...
Pirate: Is it illegal?
Bennett: There is a code section that applies to that...
Pirate: Let's do lunch, do you like Vietnamese? Marge...
Bennett: [Walks away] My name's not Marge.

Janet Napolitano, UC president, could not be reached for comment or video interview.

According to Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision from 1995, a police officer "does not have probable cause to arrest" someone for chalking, as chalk is "not paint or any other liquid" and "no reasonable person could think that writing with chalk would damage" a walkway. The courts have repeatedly defended chalking to be free speech, as "no reasonable person" would believe that chalk could damage or permanently mark a walkway surface.

The University of California at this time (one day after the incident) have not stated if they are to indeed pursue the legal matter in civil court, as to seek restitution for the costs of clearing washable with water, non-toxic sidewalk chalk, near the very plaza where the Free Speech Movement arose. The Pirate Party member who is the focus of the potential lawsuit is awaiting a formal notice to appear in court.

A recent public statement made by UC Berkeley Chancellor Dirks will be used against the UC in any potential court proceedings to clarify that the UC is not private property. On Monday, Aug 26th, Dirks said that the University is a public institution. Dirks is quoted in the media as having said the following: "What is striking to me is that there has been no shift – no shift at all – in the way in which people in this university conceive of both the importance of being a public institution..."

If the UC does indeed follow through on their threat to take the issue to court, the Pirate Party is sure of true-course and ready to sail into the legal storm.
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sad to seechalkerThursday Sep 5th, 2013 11:57 AM