Students Protest at UC President’s Office in Oakland; Birgeneau Promises Police Action Review

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday November 23, 2009 - 05:52:00 PM

As part of the ongoing protest over the University of California's 32 percent fee increase, UC Berkeley students marched to UC President Mark Yudof’s office in Oakland Monday afternoon and staged a sit-in, demanding to meet with him. 

The students went to Yudof’s office after finding out at the Alameda County Superior court that burglary charges against three Wheeler Hall occupiers had been reduced to a misdemeanor. 

UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof confirmed that there were students in Yudof’s office “who were engaged in peaceful conversation with officials there.” 

Mogulof said Yudof was not present. 

An employee at the UC Office of the President, who answered the phone around 5 p.m. Monday, but refused to give his name, said the office had received internal reports that some students had come into the lobby staged a protest there. 

He said that Peter King, who is in charge of media relations for the office, had gone down to the lobby to talk to them and that employees were being asked to use alternative exits because of the protesters. 

King could not be reached immediately for comment. 

UC Chancellor Robert Birgeneau issued a statement Monday saying that an independent review panel consisting of students, faculty members and staff would investigate the allegations of police brutality at Friday’s protest. Several students have charged that police used excessive force during the protests outside Wheeler Hall, sometimes beating individuals with batons and firing rubber bullets. 

One girl had her finger broken by a baton and another student complained that the police simultaneously struck him with a baton and fired a rubber bullet at him. 

“We truly regret the incidents that brought physical and emotional injury to members of our community,” Birgeneau said. “UCPD has already begun conducting an operational review that entails collection of all the available information including reports, videos and pictures taken by UCPD, students, the public, and media, to ensure that actions were reasonable given the situation presented and the information known at the time. This includes a review of uses of force.”