2011-11-30 "Cal students sue over police tactics at protest" by Henry K. Lee from "San Francisco Chronicle"
Two dozen UC Berkeley students and community members filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Tuesday, accusing university police and Alameda County sheriff's deputies of brutalizing them as they tried to set up an Occupy camp on campus.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, said law enforcement officers, under the direction of UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, needlessly used their batons to jab nonviolent protesters outside Sproul Hall on Nov. 9.
The officers and deputies "conducted a planned, coordinated and violent attack against these peaceful protesters" by using "shocking, unconscionable and excessive force," states the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages.
The clash with police happened at UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza, where protesters had tried to set up tents as part of an Occupy encampment. Videos of the confrontation led to several investigations and an apology from Birgeneau, who is named as a defendant in the suit along with several top university officials, campus Police Chief Mitch Celaya and Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern.
UC Berkeley spokeswoman Janet Gilmore said Tuesday that campus officials had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment. But she said of the investigations, "We look forward to learning the results. We're committed to a thorough investigation of what occurred to learn what we can."
Ahern said widely circulated videos of the confrontation failed to show protesters kicking and pushing at officers and deputies.
"My troops that have responded to these protests have done nothing wrong and have acted in response to assaults and attacks on them," Ahern said. "We don't tolerate the indiscriminate use of force, and it's not taught in our training."