Vets March Against Police Brutality in Oakland; Police Brutality Charged in Assault on UC Berkeley Students
November 12, 2011 Veterans Against Police Brutality & San Francisco Chronicle
As part of Veterans Day, veterans in Oakland, lead a march to protest police brutality. "We march not only for injured veterans Scott Olsen, Kayvan Sabeghi and Doug Connor, but for all those who have been killed or injured as a result of police brutality." Meanwhile, shocking videos have surfaced showing officers repeatedly shoving and jabbing students on the UC Berkeley campus who nonviolently tried to keep officers from dismantling tents at an "OccupyCAL" encampment.
OAKLAND, California (November 11, 2011) -- As part of Veterans Day, veterans will be leading a march against police brutality on November 11th, 2011 in Oakland. We will start with a press conference and rally with an update and statement from Scott Olsen at Oscar Grant Plaza starting at 4pm.
We welcome all veterans of the 99% to lead the way and all supporters to join us as we march the streets. We march not only for injured veterans Scott Olsen, Kayvan Sabeghi and Doug Connor, but for all those who have been killed or injured as a result of police brutality.
Kayvan Sabeghi and Doug Connor were injured on November 3, 2011 while being detained near Oscar Grant Plaza. Kayvan was severely beaten and suffered a lacerated spleen and internal bleeding. He was abused and denied medical treatment. For hours, Kayvan waited in a holding cell in severe pain before receiving medical attention. Doug is an ex-army flight nurse who was attempting to help injured protesters in jail when he was then put in additional handcuffs that were so tight on his wrists that his hands turned blue and were numb. He was left in those handcuffs for several hours until he was released.
Numerous injuries have been incurred at the hands of the police in our communities. This is unacceptable.
We strongly believe that the 99% should be free to exercise our constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech and peaceful assembly without fear of harm.
Oakland citizens have long been on the receiving end of police violence. The most recent victims have been military veterans who served their country in foreign wars, only to be seriously injured at home as they exercised the freedoms they served to protect.
While it has been the recent injurious of three of our military brothers that has catalyzed us, we stand against violence and brutality toward ANY of our people -- veteran, civilian or otherwise.
As military members, we put our lives on the line in the name of protecting our country and its citizens (including the police). We take our oath to protect and defend the Constitution very seriously and while we may have departed the military, we never disavowed our commitment.
We will return to the streets this Veterans Day to remember our brothers and sisters who have served to protect the freedoms that the Oakland Police Department and the Alameda County Sheriffs have decided do not exist. We join the people of Oakland in affirmation of our Constitution, our right to peacefully assemble and to do so without fear of violence from those sworn to protect and serve.
UC Cops' Use of Batons on Occupy Camp Questioned Will Kane and Demian Bulwa / San Francisco Chronicle
BERKELEY, California (November 11, 2011) -- A debate over the use of police force has reignited at the UC Berkeley campus after videos surfaced showing officers repeatedly shoving and jabbing screaming students who tried to keep officers from dismantling a nascent Occupy encampment.
The videos taken by protesters, journalists and casual observers show UC Berkeley police and Alameda County sheriff's deputies in riot gear ordering students with linked arms to leave a grassy area outside the campus administration building Wednesday. When the students didn't move, police lowered their face shields and began hitting the protesters with batons.
University police say the students, who chanted "You're beating students" during the incident, were not innocent bystanders, and that the human fence they tried to build around seven tents amounted to a violent stance against police.
But many law enforcement experts said Thursday that the officers' tactics appeared to be a severe overreaction.
Both the ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild said they had "grave concerns about the conduct" of campus police.
"Video recordings raise numerous questions about UCPD's oversight and handling of these events, including whether law enforcement were truly required to beat protesters with batons," the two groups wrote in a letter to campus officials.
In total, 39 people were arrested Wednesday; 22 were students and one was a professor, police said. All but one were taken to jail and released.
"The individuals who linked arms and actively resisted, that in itself is an act of violence," UC police Capt. Margo Bennett said. "I understand that many students may not think that, but linking arms in a human chain when ordered to step aside is not a nonviolent protest."
Bennett said police merely wanted to enforce the ban on camping on Sproul Plaza, but were prevented from doing so by students.
"Students who linked arms were interfering with the officers who were attempting to remove those tents," she said.
Sgt. J.D. Nelson, a spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff's Department, said he saw nothing inappropriate in how one deputy shown in a video used his baton. Nelson said it appeared the deputy was trying to keep students from breaching a police line. Yet many experts said the officers' actions were at least questionable and likely excessive.
"Using a baton to go through a nonviolent crowd is as inappropriate today as it was in the South when they used it to enforce segregation in the 1960s," said Jim Chanin, a Berkeley attorney who specializes in police misconduct issues.
Sam Walker, a professor emeritus of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha who has served as a consultant to the Oakland Police Department, said he thought the campus response was "unprovoked" and "completely unnecessary."
Using a baton to aggressively poke protesters can be dangerous, Walker said. "The way they were using it, you're very likely to hit the groin or kidney," he said. "I think it is an excessive action and totally unwarranted in the circumstances we see on the video."
This isn't the first time university officers have been accused of excessive force during a protest. In November 2009, hundreds of students orchestrated a chaotic, daylong rally against tuition increases, among other issues. At one point during the demonstration, protesters pushed a police line back by about six feet. Officers, with no direction from commanders, reacted by striking students with batons, using both jabs and overhead strikes, to re-establish the perimeter.
A review led by Wayne Brazil, a UC Berkeley law professor and retired federal magistrate judge, said the effort to push the crowd back a few feet was "incomprehensible" and "resulted in chaos, confusion and considerable violence."
Handling Civil Disobedience
The report urged the university to develop clear policies for handling mass civil disobedience. Yet the campus' most recent crowd-control policy was published in 2000. It gives no guidance on the use of batons.
Avoiding all use of force is "highly desirable," the policy states, but "a variety of techniques and tactics may be necessary" depending on the situation and the available resources.
David Klinger, a professor of criminology at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, said people who see such startling videos online shouldn't assume police acted inappropriately.
"The question becomes, what are (police) trying to accomplish" by shoving protesters, he said. "Is it just a little jab or are they following through? Looking at the video, you can't say."
But Shane Boyle, a graduate student who was smacked twice while linked with protesters, said he thought commanders sent a squad of thugs to break up the protest. "The one that hit me was going kind of crazy," Boyle said. "He was kind of fierce." Boyle said he thought the footage had galvanized his peers and united disparate groups around a frustration with the university.
Chronicle staff writers Justin Berton and Nanette Asimov contributed to this report. E-mail the writers at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
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