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Campus panel issues report on November 2009 protest response

The independent Police Review Board has completed its report responding to the chancellor’s request for a review of how the November 20, 2009 Wheeler Hall demonstration was handled.

In the wake of the protest activities in and around Wheeler Hall on November 20, 2009, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and Associate Vice Chancellor Ron Coley commissioned the campus’s independent Police Review Board to analyze and assess the day’s events, as well as the response of the administration and the UC Police Department.

The board’s report is now available along with brief responses to the report from Chancellor Birgeneau and Associate Vice Chancellor of Business and Administrative Services Ron Coley, as well as Police Chief Mitch Celaya.

The Police Review Board, led by former judge and current member of the Berkeley Law faculty, Wayne Brazil, is comprised of students, faculty, staff and representatives of the surrounding community. In the board’s formal “charge letter,” Chancellor Birgeneau and AVC Coley noted their commitment to upholding the university’s long-standing support for “freedom of inquiry and expression” while maintaining a “safe and secure environment.” In the spirit of maintaining that balance between rights and responsibilities the board was asked to:

  • Compile a “comprehensive and accurate account of the November 20, 2009 demonstration, including the conduct of police and demonstrators.”
  • Evaluate the use of force by police.
  • Evaluate the response of UCPD command and campus administrators.
  • Make recommendations regarding “police training, policy and practice designed to reduce the severity of confrontations” during demonstrations.

Above right are links to the full report and its “Executive Summary;” open letters from Chancellor Birgeneau, VC Coley and UCPD Chief Mitch Celaya; and the original “charge letter.” Readers will note that some names have been redacted in order to comply with relevant federal and state laws and policies that protect individual privacy rights.

As noted in the report’s introduction, its purpose “is not to identify with certainty all the actions by all the actors who played some role in connection with the demonstrations.” Rather, the board defined its primary mission as an effort to “contribute something to learning” and facilitate “productive dialogue.”