The UC Berkeley Police released an "open letter" today, trying to excuse the inexcusable, blame the blameless, and duck responsibility under that ever-so-convenient excuse of "just following orders."
It really makes my blood boil. Read it with my extremely biased commentary below the Kossack Squiggle.
An Open Letter to UC Berkeley Students, Faculty, Administration & Regents from the UC Berkeley Police Officers' Association
It is our hope that this letter will help open the door to a better understanding between UC Berkeley police and the University community.
The UC Berkeley Police Officers' Association, representing approximately 64 campus police officers, understands your frustration over massive tuition hikes and budget cuts, and we fully support your right to peacefully protest to bring about change.
Aside from the fact that you interfered with those same peaceful protesters by batoning them, sure, you fully support them.
It was not our decision to engage campus protesters on November 9th. We are now faced with "managing" the results of years of poor budget planning. Please know we are not your enemy.
A video clip gone viral does not depict the full story or the facts leading up to an actual incident. Multiple dispersal requests were given in the days and hours before the tent removal operation. Not caught on most videos were scenes of protesters hitting, pushing, grabbing officers' batons, fighting back with backpacks and skateboards.
Uh huh. Those same students who, in the video, were standing there not doing anything like you described just happened to be, moments before, trying to hit you and grab your batons. Color me skeptical.
The UC Berkeley Police Officers' Association supports a full investigation of the events that took place on November 9th, as well as a full review of University policing policies. That being said, we do not abrogate responsibility for the events on November 9th.
UC Berkeley police officers want to better serve students and faculty members and we welcome ideas for how we can have a better discourse to avoid future confrontations. We are open to all suggestions on ways we can improve our ability to better protect and serve the UC Berkeley community.
Here's one idea. Don't attack students who aren't attacking you. Simple, concise, to the point. And don't appear in riot gear unless there's a riot. If you choose to appear looking like Imperial Stormtroopers, chances are you're going to feel compelled to act like them.
As your campus police, we also have safety concerns that we ask you to consider.
Society has changed significantly since 1964 when peaceful UC Berkeley student protesters organized a 10-hour sit-in in Sproul Hall and 10,000 students held a police car at bay -- spawning change and the birth of our nation's Free Speech Movement.
However proud we can all be of UC Berkeley's contribution to free speech in America, no one can deny this: Our society in 2011 has become an extremely more violent place to live and to protect. No one understands the effects of this violence more than those of us in law enforcement.
But, via Wikipedia:
In 2009 America's crime rate was roughly the same as in 1968, with the homicide rate being at its lowest level since 1964. Overall, the national crime rate was 3466 crimes per 100,000 residents, down from 3680 crimes per 100,000 residents forty years earlier in 1969 (-9.4%)
And you know what? Of the increased crime since 1964 (and there has been some), I suspect that more than all of it is related to drugs, violent cartels and such, not the kind of thing the UC Berkeley Campus Police have any reason to be in the business of dealing with, and which certainly has nothing to do with campus protests by students putting up tents as symbols of the domination of the one percent. I call bullshit.
Disgruntled citizens in this day and age express their frustrations in far more violent ways -- with knives, with guns and sometimes by killing innocent bystanders. Peaceful protests can, in an instant, turn into violent rioting, ending in destruction of property or worse -- the loss of lives. Police officers and innocent citizens everywhere are being injured, and in some instances, killed.
WTF?? I could, at any moment, also turn into a raving lunatic. It's true. (And it's not even a full moon tonight). But what does this have to do with students linking arms around a bunch of tents on Sproul Plaza? These rationales give the police the excuse they need to violate the Bill Of Rights? That someone, somewhere, is thinking violent thoughts? Hey, it's long past 1984. The police should have grown up by now.
In the back of every police officer's mind is this: How can I control this incident so it does not escalate into a seriously violent, potentially life-threatening event for all involved?
While students were calling the protest "non-violent," the events on November 9th were anything but nonviolent. In previous student Occupy protests, protesters hit police officers with chairs, bricks, spitting, and using homemade plywood shields as weapons -- with documented injuries to officers.
WTF, TAKE TWO?? "Anything but non-violent." Even assuming that other Occupy protestors did what you are claiming -- which is mostly dubious -- what does what happened elsewhere have to do with the UC Berkeley protests not being "non violent?" You've lost any possible shred of respect anyone might have possibly had for your point of view.
At a moment's notice, the November 9th protest at UC Berkeley could have turned even more violent than it did, much like the Occupy protests in neighboring Oakland.
Sure, let's excuse everything via a gratuitious reference to Oakland (those horrible people "across the tracks" who tear-gassed themselves and shot themselves up with rubber bullets before the police arrived to calm everyone down). Sure, let's do that.
Please understand that by no means are we interested in making excuses.
At last count, you've just made about five excuses. But I will admit that you're not interested in making excuses because what you're really interested in is making them up.
We are only hoping that you will understand and consider the frustrations we experience daily as public safety officers sworn to uphold the law. It is our job to keep protests from escalating into violent events where lives could be endangered.
We sincerely ask for your help in doing this.
I understand, to the extent I can, your frustrations. I understand that you have to deal with situations where you don't know what is going to happen, and where someone could attack you at any moment.
But here's how I see it: you are supposed to be highly paid, highly-trained professionals. You're supposed to know how to handle yourselves in these situations. Your job is (or should be) to PROTECT THE STUDENTS unless they themselves are causing harm to others. Not beat them up. It's not part of your job description that I'm aware of (And if it is, you should resign.)
Stop making excuses and admit your officers went overboard and lost control of themselves.
Like you, we have been victims to budget cuts that affect our children and our families in real ways. We, too, hold on to the dream of being able to afford to send our children and grandchildren to a four-year university. Like you, we understand and fully support the need for change and a redirection of priorities.
To students and faculty: As 10,000 students surrounded a police car on campus in 1964, protesters passed the hat to help pay for repairs to the police car as a show of respect. Please peacefully respect the rules we are required to enforce -- for all our safety and protection. Please respect the requests of our officers as we try to do our jobs.
The next time students and protesters destroy a police car, we'll be sure to pass the hat -- okay? In the meanwhile, are you passing the hat to pay for the medical bills the students you batoned incurred? Or Scott Olsen's?
To the University Administration and Regents: Please don't ask us to enforce your policies then refuse to stand by us when we do. Your students, your faculty and your police -- we need you to provide real leadership.
We openly and honestly ask the UC Berkeley community for the opportunity to move forward together, peacefully and without further incident -- in better understanding of one another. Thank you for listening.
Thank you for not apologizing. That you for not admitting you had no business beating up students. Thank you for providing yet more evidence of why the entire UC Campus Police system should be shredded and rebuilt anew with a completely different outlook on its duties and responsibilities.
Now go smash up tepees on Sproul Plaza.
To be clear, I live in Berkeley, CA but have no association with UC Berkeley.
10:22 PM PT:
UC Task Force Addressing UC Davis Pepper Spray Incident
University of California President Mark G. Yudof announced today (Nov. 28) the appointment of former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso to chair the task force formed to address the pepper spraying of UC Davis students.
Reynoso, a UC Davis law professor emeritus who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2000, will be “absolutely fair,” Yudof said.
The task force is part of UC’s efforts to address policing issues in the wake of the Nov. 18 pepper spraying of UC Davis students and other incidents involving law enforcement officers and protesters. Acting in response to a written request from UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, Yudof last Tuesday announced that former Los Angeles police chief William J. Bratton would lead an independent fact-finding of the pepper spray incident and report back the results to him within 30 days.
Bratton, who also led the New York City police department, now heads the New York-based Kroll consulting company as chairman. He is a renowned expert in progressive community policing. Assembly Speaker John A. Perez also had made a request to Yudof and UC Regents Chair Sherry Lansing for an independent investigation.
Under the plan, Bratton's report also will be presented to the task force that Yudof is forming, again at Katehi's request. The task force will consist of a cross-section of students, faculty, staff and other UC community members. Reynoso is the first member named to the task force. The task force will review the report and make recommendations to Katehi on steps that should be taken to ensure the safety of peaceful protesters on campus. She will present her implementation plan to Yudof.
Reynoso, a farmworker’s son, rose from an Orange County barrio to become the first Latino to serve on the California Supreme Court. He has a bachelor’s degree from Pomona College and a law degree from UC Berkeley. His distinguished career includes serving as director of the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, a UCLA law school professor and as vice chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He joined the UC Davis law school faculty in 2001 asthe inaugural holder of its Boochever and Bird Chair for the Study and Teaching of Freedom and Equality.
In remarks at the regents meeting today, Yudof reiterated his support for protecting the right to peaceful protests on campus and emphasized that Bratton’s investigation will be independent.
Last Tuesday, in a separate effort, Yudof also appointed UC General Counsel Charles Robinson and UC Berkeley School of Law Dean Christopher Edley Jr. to lead a systemwide examination of police protocols and policies as they apply to protests at all 10 UC campuses. The review is expected to result in recommended best practices for policing protests across the 10 UC campuses.
Tue Nov 29, 2011 at 8:08 AM PT: File under: Deaf to all but the one percent
The Regents... voted to raise the salaries of nearly a dozen university administrators and lawyers by as much as 21.9 percent.