We are reposting a concise descriptive analysis of the disgusting display of police violence at yesterday’s Regents’ meeting at UCSF written by Ali Winston, a friend of Those Who Use It and a reporter for KALW. It originally appeared on his own blog The Informant.
The University of California regents met this morning at the Mission Bay campus to discuss austerity measures and a possible 8 percent fee increase. As has been the case at every such meeting since the regents authorized a previous 32 percent fee hike last November, protesting University of California students and workers faced off against a line of police.
In the same manner as the November 2009 regents meeting at UCLA, the confrontation quickly turned violent. Students attempted to blockade the Mission Bay parking garage to prevent the regents from entering the meeting around 8:30 AM, and claim they were quickly set on by baton-wielding University of California police officers. Zachary Levenson, a doctoral candidate in Sociology at UC-Berkeley, said a UCPD officer swung a baton at him with such force that it shattered his picket sign.
Five people were arrested in the early morning exchanges, with seven more arrests being made during the day.
From that point on situation went downhill rapidly, as can be seen in raw footage from NBC News. Police used pepper spray and their batons on a line of demonstrators outside the building – UCPD say there were six instances were pepper spray was used. Another group of protesters attempted to force their way past a UCPD officer in the parking garage. After losing his baton in the commotion UCPD Kemper responded by drawing his pistol and pointing it at nearby students.
Director Peter King, director of media relations at the UC Office of the President, claims Kemper was beaten with his own baton and drew his weapon in self-defense. However, KTVU’s video of the incident appears to conflict with this account. In the video, Kemper seems to lose his baton while trying to push through a crowd of sign-wielding demonstrators and draws his pistol shortly thereafter. King says a UC Merced student is being charged with assault on a peace officer with a deadly weapon as a result of the incident.
The other 12 people arrested are being charged with obstructing a police officer in the line of duty. Four UCPD officers were allegedly injured in the incident – it is unclear how many protesters were injured in the clashes.
This afternoon, UC Police chief Pamela Rowkowski said she has reviewed video of the pistol incident and believes the officer’s actions were appropriate. Assertive statements about use of force incidents by police officials are unusual – all use of force incidents are typically investigated by a force review board, which then determines whether the officer’s actions were in compliance with department policy.
UCOP Media Relations Director Peter King said he is uncertain about UCPD’s use of force review process. Questions remain regarding UCPD’s use of force during the occupation of Wheeler Hall last fall – the independent Police Review Board did not examine the question of whether officers did or did not use excessive force.
This is the sixth time in twelve months UCPD has deployed officers in riot gear to deal with student protests.