Berkeley Faculty Association: Birgeneau should condemn criminal charges against Nov.9, 2011 protesters

We, the undersigned faculty of the University of California, are dismayed by the criminal charges brought by the Alameda County District Attorney against several students and faculty engaged in campus protest on November 9th, 2011.  We call upon Chancellor Birgeneau to request that the D.A. drop all charges against the campus protestors. 

The D.A.’s decision represents a significant chilling of free speech and an undue restriction of rights of free assembly on campus, values officially enshrined in UC Berkeley’s Principles of Community (“We are committed to ensuring freedom of expression and dialogue that elicits the full spectrum of views held by our varied communities.” http://berkeley.edu/about/principles.shtml).  Our administration must condemn any legal actions that undermine these values. 

Indeed, as some of the students now being prosecuted were not even arrested on November 9th, these legal actions seem designed to criminalize those who are exercising basic rights of protest.  We note as well that the faculty member now scheduled for arraignment was practicing non-violent civil disobedience and, after voluntarily offering herself for arrest, was dragged by the hair and thrown to the ground by police, sustaining injuries.

Moreover, we remind Chancellor Birgeneau that the faculty Senate has stated in the resolutions of November 28, 2011, that the university administration and the police were in the wrong in their handling of the November 9th demonstrations.  Hence, should the prosecution go forward, the legal and financial responsibility for the defense of the students and faculty charged falls squarely on the university.           

Finally, we ask that the administration reply in the affirmative to any student request to enter into a public discussion of these issues, and we support efforts to open up dialogue to find resolution for these events rather than the prosecution of rights of protest.

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