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UC News of the Day: Pepper Spray Task Force Chair; Cal Police Release Open Letter; Regents Meeting Wrap Up

| November 28, 2011
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A lot of news out of the University of California system today.

This afternoon University of California President Mark Yudof announced the appointment of former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso to chair the task force formed to address the pepper spraying of UC Davis students. From the press release:

Justice Reynoso, a UC Davis law professor emeritus who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2000, will be “absolutely fair,” Yudof said.

The task force is part of UC’s efforts to address policing issues in the wake of the Nov. 18 pepper spraying of UC Davis students and other incidents involving law enforcement officers and protesters.


One of those incidents was captured in this November 9 video. It shows UC Berkeley police officers begin an assault on protestors who are standing arm in arm.

Today the UC Berkeley Police Officers Association released an open letter about the incident:

It was not our decision to engage campus protesters on November 9th. We are now faced with “managing” the results of years of poor budget planning. Please know we are not your enemy.

A video clip gone viral does not depict the full story or the facts leading up to an actual incident. Multiple dispersal requests were given in the days and hours before the tent removal operation. Not caught on most videos were scenes of protesters hitting, pushing, grabbing officers’ batons, fighting back with backpacks and skateboards.

The UC Berkeley Police Officers’ Association supports a full investigation of the events that took place on November 9th, as well as a full review of University policing policies. That being said, we do not abrogate responsibility for the events on November 9th.

Towards the end, the letter appeals to the University Administration and Regents:

Please don’t ask us to enforce your policies then refuse to stand by us when we do. Your students, your faculty and your police – we need you to provide real leadership.

The regents got an earful from students today as well. KQED’s Ana Tintocalis was at their meeting today and said frustrated students and faculty members broke up the meeting and called on UC President Mark Yudof to resign:

The meeting took place simultaneously at four U-C campuses, each connected by speaker phone.

Yudof was at UCSF’s Mission Bay campus, where roughly 50 students blasted him and the regents for recent police actions AND for tuition hikes. The students then tookover, and held what they called a “People’s Regents” meeting — chanting slogans and rearranging chairs. That’s when U-C officials left the room.

During the meeting regents approved a spending plan for the coming year. The $2.7 billion would be an increase from $2.3 billion this year, but still would be about $500 million less than UC received in state support four years ago, Yudof told the board.

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About the Author ()

Rachel Dornhelm got her start in radio at WHYY. After anthropology graduate school, Rachel lived in Uzbekistan working with youth near the drying Aral Sea. Rachel returned to radio full-time in 2001. Her work has appeared on WNYC, WBUR, Marketplace, NPR news magazines and KQED. Reach Rachel Dornhelm at rdornhelm@kqed.org.

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