UC Berkeley's Campus Police Use Violence to Stop Occupy Cal Protesters


On Wednesday night, Berkeley campus police clashed with Occupy Cal protesters. This is the second clash police have had with Occupy protesters in California’s East Bay starting with the Occupy Oakland protests. But why is California witnessing so much police brutality? The simple answer lies in Francis Pakes’ book Comparative Criminal Justice where he explains police culture, but the causes of police culture remain to be seen.

On Monday, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau sent a letter to all Berkeley students banning any obstructions to education. To protest tuition increases and funding cuts in education, UC Berkeley students had set up tents on Wednesday afternoon in Berkeley‘s Sproul Plaza – a definite obstruction to education.

Sproul Plaza lies at one of four main entrances to the University of California, Berkeley. With protesters taking up most of the space, access to the south of campus would have been difficult.

Campus police stormed the plaza, tore down these tents, and arrested six students and one faculty member. An hour later, students had set up another encampment.

By night, students and police had multiple clashes. Video footage captures campus police hitting students with batons, and according to Sacramento’s CBS News, most of the students that got hit were women.

This latest episode shows an increasing amount of police brutality in California’s East Bay in what Francis Pakes describes as police culture. He explains how each police force is different in the U.S. because they are run by local government. These differences create a police culture that produces different tolerance levels for deviance. This tolerance level could explain California’s East Bay’s high police brutality levels. However, the cause of this police culture remains shrouded in mystery.

Photo Credit: TheRealMichaelMoore

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Jacinda Chan

Jacinda graduated from University of California, Berkeley with a dual bachelor's degree in rhetoric and political science. She is currently pursuing a masters in international criminal justice at the University of Portsmouth. She is fluent in German. Since then, she has done various research and writing internships covering Turkish politics at the Diplomatic Courier, writing reports on legal systems in the Middle East, and researching the entire human rights history of Iran and Egypt. At the Levin Institute, she wrote news analysis about human rights in Latin America.

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