Petition to Chancellor Birgeneau and Chief Celaya

On November 22, the English Department sent the following petition to Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau and Chief of UC Police Department, Mitchell Celaya, strongly protesting the police violence against non-violent protestors on November 9.

Here is the petition, signed by 147 English department faculty, graduate students and staff

Dear Chancellor Birgeneau and Chief Celaya,

We, the undersigned members of the English Department, strongly protest the use of excessive force against non-violent protestors on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011, in front of Sproul Hall and the use of punitive legal measures against those who were arrested on that day.

May of us have signed other petitions objecting to the authorization of such force and to the response of campus and county police on Nov. 9, but we are adding our objections as a department, since several of our faculty and graduate students participated in the non-violent protests on that day and were the objects of police violence or extended incarceration or witnessed the use of excessive force.

We join the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, in their letter to you, expressing grave concern about the violent use of batons against peaceful protestors. We endorse their demands for an immediate and independent investigation into the use of force on Nov. 9 and for UCPD oversight in enforcement actions to ensure that excessive force is not employed in responses to future protests; UCPD commitment to Penal Code 853.6, which requires that misdemeanor arrestees be cited and released on their own recognizance unless very unusual circumstances apply; and the disclosure of documents in order to further the public’s understanding of the events on Nov. 9.

Chancellor Birgeneau, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer, and Vice Chancellor Harry Legrande, in their message to the campus community on Monday Nov. 7, wrote of the commitments to free speech and social justice shared by the members of the university. That shared commitment is violated by the use of excessive police force against non-violent protestors who are members of this community: faculty, staff, graduate students, and undergraduates. We call upon the Chancellor and university administration to uphold the traditions of Berkeley they endorse in their open letter and to safeguard the members of the university community who exercise their right to non-violent protest.