Bay Area media outlets widely reported on the physical tackling and arrest of a protestor Thursday by university police. The encounter was caught on video and shared across social media platforms. The man was a member of AFSCME Local 3299, UC’s largest union, which drew around 100 marchers to support a call for improved working conditions.
Accounts of what led to the arrest vary. According to statements made by UC Berkeley, the man was arrested after running toward a vehicle at the intersection of Bancroft and Telegraph and throwing his sign at it. The union offers a different account, saying the vehicle tried to push through protestors occupying the intersection, which elicited something being thrown, but not the sign held by the man who was eventually arrested. According to police, the protestor was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor vandalism and willful obstruction of an officer, according to the East Bay Times. Union leaders have since claimed the arrest was racially motivated, noting the man tackled is black.
In other news, an outside review of UCOP—the 10th in the past decade—has reportedly led the office to consider making changes despite the positive framing of its findings. According to the LA Times, “The review found that the UC office is relatively lean even as it leads the nation with world-class services in such areas as research, study abroad options and undergraduate admissions.” The report found UCOP’s cost to the UC system is less than what most comparable systems pay for management. Nonetheless, the report, by Huron Consulting Group Inc., suggested two plans for cutting UCOP. According to the LA Times, “The more aggressive one proposes potential cuts of $50 million from the office’s $883 million budget and 110 of about 1,790 positions. The other option suggests cuts of about $42 million and 99 positions.”
Cuts could come from “post-doctoral fellowships, chancellor expenses, some vacant positions and the UC-Mexico program,” a program the article says is duplicated by efforts at UC Riverside. The article notes Napolitano has been under pressure to clean house following a critical state audit that accused her office of concealing money. In related news, the SF Chronicle reported state lawmakers were upset with retired state Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno for not definitively blaming Napolitano for interfering in the earlier audit. Moreno was hired to investigate possible interference by UCOP, but his report ended up pinning the blame on two top staffers, who have since resigned.
Meanwhile, an editorial by the Washington Post criticized the Department of Justice for supporting a lawsuit against Berkeley brought by two conservative student groups who claim their free speech rights were violated. The editorial criticized the Jeff Sessions-led department for playing politics, writing, “Berkeley is making tough choices to balance safety and freedom, not selectively suppressing speech.”
2/1 – Man injured, arrested during UC Berkeley protest march (EBT): The article says, “a UC officer tried to detain the man, who did not cooperate and ignored commands, other officers moved on him.”
2/1 – 100 UC employees rally for increased wages; UCPD arrests 1 (DailyCal): A union spokesperson said, “UC likes to present itself as an engine of social mobility, but what we’ve seen in practice is that it is a monument to inequality.”
2/2 – Video of UC Berkeley worker’s arrest during Thursday protest prompts outcry (Berkeleyside): A UC spokesperson said, “UCPD and the campus administration always see the use of force as unfortunate and it is used only when necessary to protect the community and the officers involved in carrying out their duties.”
2/2 – UC Berkeley Labor Protester’s Rough Arrest Condemned By Union (CBS/SF): A union communication said, “As AFSCME workers across America reaffirmed their commitment to the cause of racial equality, dignity, and respect for workers, the University of California chose to honor the repressive legacy of the Jim Crow South.”
1/30 – Investigator pressed on why UC president not blamed for audit interference (SFChronicle): In reply to criticism that he let Napolitano off the hook, Moreno said, “We reported the facts and conclusions. I submit you can probably argue differently, but this is the best that I can do.”
1/29 – UC President Janet Napolitano considers overhauling her office amid political criticism (LATimes): The article notes concern within UCOP over “change fatigue” and the political motivation behind possible shakeups.
2/3 – The Justice Department is going after Berkeley for squelching free speech. That’s unfair. (WaPo): The editorial notes:
“Even in today’s overheated political environment, Berkeley’s administration has lived up to its principles and its legal obligations, or tried: It has negotiated to facilitate speeches by invitees of campus conservatives, even highly controversial ones, and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on security — notwithstanding objections from progressive students and faculty, who, wrongly, see free speech as an excuse for spreading hatred. The university has done so notwithstanding violence, actual or threatened, from violent ultraleft off-campus groups.”