LETTER FROM STUDENT ADVOCATE’S OFFICE ON FRIDAY MORNING ARRESTS AT BERKELEY

Note: This is a leaked draft-form of a letter that SAO plans to release soon. The final version could potentially be quite different from this draft. As such the language in this document does not represent the views of the SAO

The Student Advocate’s Office (SAO), a non-partisan and executive office of the ASUC, is deeply concerned with the circumstances surrounding the university arrests of 66 individuals, including approximately 40 students, from Wheeler Hall on December 11, 2009.

While we do not condone conduct that threatens the safety of the campus community and recognize that the planned unauthorized concert lacked the necessary safety precautions, we believe the administration did not adhere to procedures that were in the best interest of students. The following is a statement that addresses our concerns:

Following the arrests of students involved in the week-long “Open University” protests, UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof stated in a university press release that “there had been an understanding of access to certain areas and [the protestors] began to violate those understandings.” He continued by stating that the arrests were made “once the group refused to reconsider plans to hold an unauthorized all-night concert in an academic building.” However, when members of the SAO met with Dean of Students Jonathan Poullard out of concern for the arrested students, he provided reasons for the arrest that were not in line with the university’s public statements. Dean Poullard acknowledged that the university’s call for police intervention was not initially linked to the concert, but rather had been discussed earlier that week before the concert had even been planned. His statements indicated that the arrests were intended for the last day of the “Open University” protest to prevent students from mobilizing and moving their activities to a different building on campus, which would further increase costs to the university. Considering that the arrests were premeditated and not solely for the purpose of preventing a disruptive and illegal concert as the university has alleged, the SAO firmly believes that the method and mode of police intervention were misleading and misguided.

The premeditation of police intervention calls into question the validity of the administration’s attempts to communicate with student organizers. Read the rest of the letter.

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