Yudof Calls for Investigation into Police Brutality, Names Key Advisors

Over the past week, statements have been released by the UC Office of the President and the UCSD Office of the Chancellor, condemning police action and upholding commitments to free speech and peaceful assembly on UC campuses.

In statements from UCOP on November 21st and November 22nd, President Mark G. Yudof stated that he was “appalled” by the images of students being doused with pepper spray at UC Davis and jabbed with batons at UC Berkeley, and called for UCOP staff to:

  • Examine recent incidents involving use of force on UC campuses.
  • Organize a thorough examination of police procedures, protocols and training.
  • Put in place a structure to assemble recommendations for longer-term practices to ensure the safety of members of the UC community engaged in peaceful protest.

Yudof named former LA and NYC police chief William J. Bratton “to undertake an independent fact-finding of the pepper spray incident and report back the results to him within 30 days.” The UCOP release identifies Bratton as a “renowned expert in progressive community policing”. However, concerns are being raised over whether Bratton’s track record reflects quite the opposite, as his “zero tolerance” approach to crime in NYC led to widespread claims of police harassment for trivial infractions (see this 1999 Economist article).  Most recently, Bratton told the NY Times that the LA City Council’s recent resolution in support of Occupy L.A. “set a dangerous precedent”.

Yudof also appointed UC General Counsel Charles Robinson and UC Berkeley School of Law Dean Christopher Edley Jr. to “lead a system-wide examination of police protocols and policies as they apply to protests at all 10 UC campuses.” The appointment of both the UC General Counsel and a Special Advisor to the UC President has raised some concerns over the independence of these investigations, although Edley has had a long history of civil rights work within the federal government.

An advisory panel advisory consisting “of a cross-section of students, faculty, staff and other UC community members” is currently being formed.