UC recommends changes on civil disobedience policy

May 4, 2012 6:46:28 PM PDT
The University of California released a new report Friday recommending changes in the way officials handle campus demonstrations in the future.

The report, which comes after violent conflicts between police and Occupy demonstrators, says police force should be used on campus demonstrators only as a last resort.

"While it was the police use of force that is in many ways the focus of the report and certainly occasioned this report, much of what we discuss involves how to avoid having to use police at all," said UC Berkeley Law School dean Christopher Edley, one of the report's authors.

The 158-page report from the office of UC President Mark Yudof makes 50 separate recommendations about how UC police and administrators should treat campus protests going forward.

At the heart of many of the recommendations is a reduced role for campus police in favor of negotiation primarily between protestors and specially trained civilian mediators.

The report also states that non-lethal use of force, including pepper spray and batons, should be introduced only in the most extreme cases and only after all other efforts have failed.

"You should be trying other methods first, but not all methods I think will work in all circumstances," said UC General Counsel Charles Robinson.

The UC report is the third to come out in the wake of two high-profile incidents on UC campuses.

Last November, UC Davis police pepper sprayed peaceful student demonstrators who had locked arms, blocking a sidewalk.

At UC Berkeley, baton-wielding officers had a violent confrontation with Occupy demonstrators who had set up tents on the steps of Sproul Hall.

"I do believe clearly that had the recommendations in this report been in place, been implemented, the mistakes of November would not have occurred," said Edley.

The initial report is a draft. There is now a three-week public comment period with the final version expected in late May.


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