Here’s a piece from the Bay Citizen, followed by the US Regents’ strong reply to Katie Hickox, a Berkeley graduate who wrote to them protesting the police brutality on UC campuses. (Katie’s email is there, too.)
University Investigating Police Tactics
By BAY CITIZEN STAFF|November 22, 2011 1:09 p.m. |In Occupy Movement
—– Forwarded Message —–
To: katie hickox
Sent: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 4:58 PM
Subject: RE: Excessive Force Used Against Peaceful Student Protesters
On behalf of the Board of Regents, thank you for your email regarding the appalling incidents that occurred by police against protestors on the University of California Berkeley and Davis campuses. Please know that your concerns will be forwarded to the Regents shortly so that they are all made aware of your serious concerns.
Several statements have been released by the University regarding these incidents. We hope that the following statements and actions taken by the Regents, the President, the Academic Senate, and the Chancellors will help address at least some of the concerns you expressed.
UC Board of Regents Chairman Sherry Lansing has released a video statement that she is “shocked and appalled” by the images of police actions during recent incidents at UC Berkeley and UC Davis, and that she supports President Yudof’s effort to review system wide procedures so that students can engage in peaceful protests. Regent Lansing also informed the UC community that the Board of Regents will meet by teleconference next Monday, November 28 at four locations around the state. That meeting will include an expanded public comment period to allow students greater access to express their views to the Board. Regent Lansing’s video statement is available here: http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/article/26709. Please note that tuition increases are noton the Regents November 28 agenda: http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/regents/regmeet/nov28.html.
Regarding the situation at UC Berkeley, last week President Mark Yudof released a letter to UC students expressing his distress over the incident, and his confidence that campus leadership will conduct a fair review of the unfortunate events (http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/article/26683).
Following the incident at UC Davis, President Mark Yudof issued a statement that he was appalled by the situation and that he will do everything in his power to protect the rights of UC students, faculty, and staff to engage in non-violent protest (http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/article/26702).
President Yudof yesterday convened the chancellors of all 10 campuses, indicating that UCOP senior leadership will examine the incidents, thoroughly review police procedures and training, and recommend long-term practices to ensure the safety of those demonstrating peaceful protest (http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/article/26708).
Regents Faculty Representative and Academic Senate Chair Robert Anderson has forwarded to President Yudof four statements adopted by the UC Systemwide Academic Council regarding the imperative that campuses should exercise restraint in responding to peaceful protests and that UC faculty support the right of free speech by all members of the UC community. The UC Academic Council also reiterated its opposition to the state’s divestment in higher education (http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/senate/RMAtoMGYonProtestsandPolice112011.pdf).
Chancellor Linda Katehi has apologized for the incidents on the Davis campus (http://dateline.ucdavis.edu/dl_detail.php?id=13761) and issued two media releases stating that the police chief and officers involved in the UC Davis incident have been placed on administrative leave (http://news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=10084; http://news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=10086). She also released a letter to the UC Davis community indicating that a task force of faculty, students, and staff will be formed to review the events, and that the UCD Office of Student Affairs will review policies in relation to encampments and consider whether they reflect the current needs of students (http://chancellor.ucdavis.edu/messages/2011/taskforce_111911.html).
Chancellor Robert Birgeneau issued a statement to the UC Berkeley campus that he has asked the Chair of the UCB Police Review Board to launch an immediate investigation into the police actions on that campus (http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2011/11/14/chancellors-message-regarding-last-week%E2%80%99s-events-on-campus/).
Again, we hope that these statements help allay at least some of your valid concerns. Though it was an egregious situation that prompted you to write the Board, the Regents always appreciate your taking the time to express your views regarding any issue involving the University of California. Please feel free to continue to do so in the future.
Secretary and Chief of Staff to the Regents
From: katie hickox
Sent: Sunday, November 20, 2011 10:11 AM
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; diane feinstein; barbara boxer
Subject: Excessive Force Used Against Peaceful Student Protesters
To whom it may concern:
As a graduate of UC Berkeley, I am deeply disappointed, shocked and sickened by the excessive military style force being used against any peaceful student protesters on UC campuses.
I am writing for the very first time to express my disappointment and to ask that the UC Regents change their policy of using excessive military type force against peaceful student protesters and to allow a place on each campus where students can peacefully assemble and protest.
I refer to this online article: http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/275-42/8485-uc-davis-police-violence-adds-fuel-to-fire The photo in this article says it all: a campus police officer spraying pepper spray directly into the faces, mouths of student protesters who were seated peacefully with arms linked on the Quad area at UC Davis. What also happened at UC Berkeley, where campus police officers used batons to beat up student protesters on/adjacent to the steps at Sproul Hall, was just beyond words to describe my disappointment and sadness.
Students have many reasons to protest, from continued increases in tuition, to continued declines in the standard of living being experienced by everyone, and the disregard in the US by the media, corporations for those who have been the economic losers, the unemployed, the homeless and those who have suffered economic losses with the Great Recession of 2008, not to mention the non-stop wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and soon to be Iran, and the introduction of private companies who now oversee the counting of over 90% of all votes tallied in the US using optical scanners and tabulators, electronic voting machines that has made rigging election results much easier to do and very difficult to prove because the evidence is easily destroyed electronically which in my humble opinion is why GOP candidates now control the House and in large degree also hamstring the Democratic majority in the Senate.
With the huge annual increases in tuition and burdensome and unfair changes to the student loans and grants, it is only logical that students are having a very difficult time and will continue to have some hard times financing an education. In addition, finding any kind of work, whether it is a part-time or full-time work paying minimum wages–these jobs don’t pay enough to cover the rent, let alone tuition or food–is very difficult for students and non-students alike.
I am deeply against all the continued cuts in state funding for the UC campuses that have been steadily going on every year over the past 30 years. I am also against the continued increases in salaries and bonuses for each of the UC Regents and I believe that the Regents shouldn’t be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. UC Regent administrative costs have really gone through the roof. If you take a position as a Regent, this should be considered as an honorary unpaid position and should only receive recompense for expenses and a small stipend and this extends to the President/Chancellor of the UC system as well.
It is extremely unfair what has been going on with the extreme spending cuts by the State of California to the UC system and also the Cal State system and the smaller City Colleges as well. I urge each of the UC Regents to give back their annual salary, bonuses and only get reimbursed for expenses and a small stipend as a first step. I urge the Governor of California to find a way to stop the planned cuts in funding for higher education and to increase tax rates on corporations who have cut their tax rates to a fraction of what they were paying in the 60s.
How the students were treated with pepperspray and batons at UC Davis and at UC Berkeley is just horrible and really unnecessary. At the very least, allow the students a place on each campus where they can peacefully assemble and protest, otherwise, there is no difference between the US and more repressive regimes like China except that the students are not shot to death on sight by the so called friendly UC campus Police and don’t get shipped off to unmarked prisons, at least not yet. Perhaps this will start happening in the near future, and I will place the blame at your door when this does happen.
B.A., UC Berkeley