NEWS RELEASE, 06/30/98
UC Berkeley releases Police Review Board report
on April 1997 Sproul Hall confrontation between UC police and demonstrators
By Robert Sanders, Public Affairs
BERKELEY -- The University of California, Berkeley, today released the Campus Police Review Board's final report on an April 28, 1997, demonstration at Sproul Hall.
The demonstration by students protesting Proposition 209 resulted in a widely publicized confrontation between student protesters and officers of the University of California Police Department. A number of students twice sought to force their way through a police line, and the police responded with the use of force, including hands, batons and pepper spray.
Acting at the request of the UC Police Department and Vice Chancellor Horace Mitchell, who oversees the department, the Campus Police Review Board reviewed the conclusions of the department's own investigation of the incident. The review board conducted an independent investigation and hearings and presented the final report to Mitchell on June 9.
The demonstration began at around 1 p.m. when students locked all exits from the building, as well as interior stairwells and the elevator, with U-shaped bicycle locks, preventing employees from leaving. When police quickly responded, the 50 or so demonstrators retreated to the west foyer of the building. During a sit-in that lasted several hours, the demonstrators twice tried to break through a police line preventing them from entering the main corridor of the building. Not long after the second and more violent incident, the demonstrators left the building.
Among the board's conclusions were:
Based upon these findings, the board recommended the adoption of written campus-wide and departmental crowd control policies, improved pepper spray training and an overall review of the effectiveness of pepper spray for crowd control and in less specialized uses.
"Our report is the result of a careful review of all the available evidence about what happened on April 28," said Stephen Bundy, UC Berkeley professor of law and chair of the review board. "While it may not please partisans on either side, we strongly believe that it is balanced and that it outlines a sound, forward-looking program for reducing the likelihood of such incidents in the future."
In response to the report, UC Berkeley Police Chief Victoria Harrison said, "I am happy to see that the review board agrees with our own internal investigation's conclusions regarding the overall use of force during the demonstration.
"However, I strongly disagree with their finding that three officers used unreasonable force, and I question the standards they used in evaluating the actions of these officers. Our police officers responded professionally to a difficult situation. I continue to believe their response was appropriate given the circumstances."
Both Harrison and Vice Chancellor Mitchell pledged to address the Board's criticisms and to consider its policy recommendations.
"I look forward to working with the Police Review Board and the UC Police Department to deal with these issues," Mitchell said.
Members of the board who signed the report included Bundy, Professor
Jewelle Taylor Gibbs of the School of Social Welfare, Professor Sheldon
Zedeck of the Psychology Department, Director John Matsui of the Biology
Scholars Program, Jess Bravin of the Graduate Assembly, and Harry Stern,
Esq., a lawyer and retired officer of the Berkeley City Police Department.
A seventh member of the Board, Hikari Kimura, a representative of the Associated
Students of the University of California, was removed from the board in
March for violating its confidentiality rules and did not participate in
the board's final decision
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