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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Education & Student Activism | Police State and Prisons
KPFA report on UC Berkeley student suspension
Classes at UC Berkeley resume tomorrow, but the university has told a student who was arrested during a campus demonstration last month that she cannot return to school. The university has also ordered her to move out of her student co-op. 5 min. MP3
The UC Berkeley police arrested Angela Miller outside the chancellor's house around 11:30 p.m. on Friday, December 11. But although the Alameda County District Attorney has dropped all charges against the 20-year-old junior and the seven others arrested that night, Miller remains prohibited from entering campus under an interim suspension.
On Monday of that week, activists moved into Wheeler Hall, a university classroom building, for a 24-hour-week-long demonstration they called Live Week. Police didn't shut down the demonstration until around 4:30 Friday morning. Dozens of students woke up to find out they were under arrest. In all, 66 people were charged with misdemeanor trespassing and taken to Santa Rita jail.
After police raided Wheeler Hall, the organizers decided to move a planned concert to an off-campus co-op. Following the show, a group of concert-goers marched to the campus.
“Somewhere between 40 to 70 individuals showed up outside the chancellors’ house,” said university spokesperson Dan Mogoluf. “Some portion of them were carrying lit torches. Those torches were thrown at the house, heavy objects were also thrown at the windows in what appeared to have been an attempt to break them and to gain entry into the house, possibly, again this is according to UCPD.”
Police charged the eight people arrested that night with numerous felonies including, threatening an education official, rioting, attempted burglary, attempted arson of an occupied building, felony vandalism and assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer.
After being held over the weekend on more than $130,000 bail, the district attorney chose not to file any charges against them at their arraignment and ordered their release.
Two of those arrested, Zach Bowin and Angela Miller, are students at UC Berkeley. The university filed an interim suspension that barred them from coming on campus or speaking to students and university employees.
Stephen Rosenbaum is a lecturer at Berkeley law school. He is advising both Bowin and miller on their student conduct hearings.
“Both of these students were served a notice of interim suspension. They’re identical notices, which were also served on the UC Davis students,” said Rosenbaum. “And it recites about six sections of the UC campus code of student conduct and then almost no facts in support of it.”
While Bowin’s suspension was relaxed and he will be able to attend classes this semester, a student conduct panel decided on Wednesday not to loosen miller’s suspension.
During the hearing, a UCPD detective claimed the police have a photo of Miller holding a torch outside the chancellor's house, but the detective didn't actually produce the photo as evidence. Police seized that photo from a "protestor," according to university documents obtained by KPFA. But that photo may have actually been shot by David Morse, an independent journalist whose camera was seized after he was arrested while reporting.
The panel said in a letter to miller that it decided not allow miller to return to class in part because it was unclear of her commitment to her studies, that she didn’t demonstrate any positive contributions she made to the university, and because she didn’t show any remorse.
Rosenbaum said the outcomes might differ because Miller didn’t have a lawyer present for the hearing.
“The difference is because I was able to find out about Zach Bowin’s situation in time, last semester, I was able to represent him at a hearing where we got most of those restrictions lifted. “Unfortunately I was not aware of Angela Miller’s situation until a day about a day after her hearing was actually held. So she had the same conditions imposed on her as Zach and what’s worse is because she’s living in university leased housing, one of the co-ops, they’re telling her that she has to leave her house as of, I think it’s 5 p.m. this evening.”
But Rosenbaum said Miller plans to stay at her co-op despite the university’s demands.
“The university cannot engage in what’s called self-help eviction. It’s been the law for a number of years in California —and most states— where the landlord can’t come out with the sheriff and put your furniture and your clothing and your belongings on the sidewalk. We don’t operate in the wild west anymore,” said Rosenbaum. “Furthermore as long as Angela continues to be a registered student at the university, the Berkeley student cooperative is not able to evict her from her housing, and if they try to do that — I don’t believe they will — she has a due process to go through. Fortunately the Berkeley student cooperative does believe in due process in ways that the University of California, Berkeley, does not.”
Mogoluf, the UC Berkeley spokesperson said the university is forbidden by law from discussing specifics about students facing disciplinary charges.
“I feel like my rights have been taken away as a student, i feel like the uc has wrongfully criminalized me and it has taken unlawful actions. I feel like the university has overly punished me for nothing,” said Miller. “But I also feel that in all this trouble that’s being caused, there’s a whole community of listeners there, and I feel like they are helping me to win the fight for our education.”