Police to conduct review after 'Occupy Cal' arrests

November 13, 2011 3:24:37 PM PST
There's a lot of controversy at U.C. Berkeley after two videos surfaced showing law enforcement officers dragging to "Occupy Cal" demonstrators by their hair.

The images triggered outrage among the faculty at Cal. Officers forcefully yanked people from their huddle, eventually forcing them to the ground.

At one point in the video, an officer is shown pulling Professor Celeste Langan by her hair. Langan was then arrested.

"I'm distressed, and it feels like one example of which there were many that day of the police being the provocateurs," said U.C. Berkeley professor Geoffrey O'Brien.

O'Brien says his colleague is still sore from the arrested. Langan was in the first wave of police action last Wednesday during an "Occupy Cal" event.

Later in the evening, police moved in to forcefully dismantle any tents that were set up. O'Brien said he was injured when he tried to intervene with what he said was the brutal arrest by an Alameda County Sheriff's deputy.

"I said, 'if you're going to hit somebody, hit a professor,'" O'Brien admitted. "The cop said, 'you want some?' It was a rhetorical question, and I was hit viciously in the ribs and went to the ground."

O'Brien says officers were brutal, and he's demanding answers from the university.

U.C. Berkeley Police Capt. Margo Bennett said the department has already launched an inquiry, adding that "any time we have a major event, we conduct an operation review. With 39 arrests, this would trigger an operation review, which is what our chief has already called for."

O'Brien said he was especially concerned with the use of force he saw sheriff's deputies use. Bennett said it was difficult to control other agencies in situations like the one that came up last Wednesday, adding that other agencies bring their own equipment and training.

As for a review of policy, O'Brien is especially critical of the university's leadership response to a demonstration that he says was very peaceful.

"I would remind the chancellor that the current procedures would disallow the important movements of the past, especially the free speech movement that happened in exactly that place," O'Brien said.

Bennett said the findings of their review would eventually be given to the university's police oversight board. O'Brien said he would like the university to conduct an independent review, of which he said he would like to be a part of.

O'Brien also said he's still recovering from his injury and is weighing his options to file a formal complaint against the police.

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