The Daily Californian Online

Eight Arrested After Attack on Chancellor's House

By Javier Panzar and Zach E.J. Williams
Daily Cal Staff Writers
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Category: News > University > Student Life

Several dozen people marched to Chancellor Birgeneau's residence late Friday evening and vandalized the campus property.

Eight people have been arrested, including two UC Berkeley students and two UC Davis students, and remain in police custody following an attack on Chancellor Robert Birgeneau's house late Friday night.

Between 40 and 75 people marched to Birgeneau's home near the northwest corner of campus at about 11 p.m. Friday night. Some wielded torches that were allegedly thrown at police, while others broke the outside lighting to the house, overturned planters, damaged "impact resistant" windows on the house and scattered garbage brought from a nearby student housing cooperative, police said.

The group dispersed after UCPD officers arrived on the scene following a call from Birgeneau at 11:14 p.m., according to a UCPD statement on the incident.

Zachary Bowin, 21, and Angela Miller, 20, both UC Berkeley students were arrested as well as James Carwil, 34; Laura Thatcher, 21, a UC Davis student; David Morse, 41; Donnell Allen, 41; John Friesen, 25-who had previously been arrested Friday at Wheeler Hall-and Julia Litmancleper, 20.

It was unclear who the fourth UC student was, though campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said two of those arrested were UC Davis students.

According to Mogulof, all of the eight arrested were being held at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

However at 11:40 A.M. Saturday morning, Bowin, Morse and Litmancleper posted $132,500 bail and were released, Mogulof said. He added the remaining five are still in custody.

All are charged with rioting, threatening an education official, attempted burglary, attempted arson of an occupied building, felony vandalism and assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer. The eight were all issued exclusion orders which bar them from returning to campus, police said.

Mogulof said the attack was a disturbing development in a student-led movement against the campus and university administrations' handling of record budget shortfalls.

"This is what it looks like when a student group gets hijacked by extreme and violent elements in its ranks," he said. "There is no place in our community for such extremism. They now need to decide which path they will take going forward. ... If they elect to continue on this path of violence and extremism, we will spare no effort to identify and remove them from our community."

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement Saturday that the attack was an act of terrorism.

"California will not tolerate any type of terrorism against any leaders including educators," he said in the statement. "The attack on Chancellor Birgeneau's home is a criminal act and those who participated will be prosecuted under the fullest extent of the law. Debate is the foundation of democracy and I encourage protesters to find peaceful and productive ways to express their opinions."

UC Berkeley students involved in the student movement, which opposes a recent 32 percent increase in student fees as well as an alleged privatization of the university, said the attack was not representative of their cause.

"What happened last night doesn't reflect on our students (as a whole)," said Ricardo Gomez, founder of Berkeley Students Against the Cuts and a UC Berkeley student. "As far as I understand it, six out of the eight people arrested weren't students. ... These types of violent interactions cause students on our campus to be less engaged with what's going on."

Students involved with the "Open University" and other student actions have said they are "completely disappointed" by the "impulsive action" made by a small number of people.

"I know that was not a collective decision of the mass of students who were organizing," said Elias Martinez, a UC Berkeley student who helped organize the "Open University" protest. "I know that this was not solidarity."

Students and organizers will meet Saturday to form a response to Friday night's action, he said.

The attack followed the arrests of 66 students staging the "Open University" in Wheeler Hall. Campus officials said the arrests were made in order to ensure that a music concert planned for the evening would not interfere with final exams scheduled to take place in the building on Saturday. Several dozen people congregated outside Wheeler Hall at about 8 p.m. Friday evening to protest the arrests.

According to a UCPD report on the incident, those involved in the attack were part of the group that had met in front of Wheeler Hall and then moved north along the west side of the building. Birgeneau was informed that the group was heading in the direction of his residence, University House, at 8:42 p.m., but the group instead continued on to Hearst Avenue on the north side of campus, according to the report.

At 8:53 p.m., the group arrived at the Casa Zimbabwe co-op on Ridge Road where the concert was relocated. Shortly after 11 p.m. "a large, loud group" described by callers as "rioters" moved to campus, knocking over garbage cans and newspaper machines on Euclid Street, arriving at University House shortly thereafter.

Casa Zimbabwe representatives did not respond to requests for comment Saturday.

Berkeley Student Cooperative President Palmer Buchholz said in an e-mail that the attack was not in any way sanctioned by Casa Zimbabwe or the Berkeley Student Cooperative and that cooperative officials are unaware of how the group of attackers was formed.

"A concert did take place at CZ last night, but it was shut down by 11:00 in time for quiet hours, and all guests left the property," she said in the e-mail. "CZ's house management reports that no organization for the events of the night took place at CZ, and the BSC in no way condones the actions taken by the attackers. CZ's house management reports that the guests were well-behaved and gave no indication of any post-concert plans they may have had. I have no knowledge of how the group of attackers was formed. ... Additionally, none of the students involved or arrested are residents of CZ."

Residents of the co-op refused to let the crowd inside the residence, according to Casa Zimbabwe residents, and the concert was held in the garage. According to a resident of the co-op who attended the concert and requested to remain anonymous because he did not want to be associated with the attack, the concert ended shortly before 11 p.m. and there was sporadic talk of further actions within the crowd. There was no group consensus or announcement made among the group before they left, said the resident who stayed behind.

"I heard random people talking about occupations but they never said where they were going," he said. "There were people with megaphones and you know people like to follow people with megaphones."

Police who had responded to an unrelated disturbance call on nearby Euclid Avenue arrived soon after the group began its attack. Some members of the crowd threw lit torches at officers arriving from the southern end of the home, at which point the crowd dispersed and several were arrested, UCPD Lt. Adan Tejada said at about 2 a.m. Saturday morning.

Several dozen people ran through a parking lot between Giannini Hall and Tolman Hall, wearing hoods and throwing gloves aside, according to Jared Friedman, a research assistant at the the Sleep and Psychological Disorders Lab on campus, who was walking back from Moffitt Library when he saw the crowd.

"I just heard a bunch of chanting through a megaphone," Friedman said. "It was a big crowd running with hoods on just yelling, I couldn't make anything out."

Birgeneau and his wife were in the house at the time, but were moved to a confidential location in order to ensure his safety, Tejada said Saturday morning.

Tejada said at about 2 a.m. Saturday morning that the students who received exclusion orders will need to meet with campus officials before being allowed to return to campus for final exams.

"The only way they can get back on to campus is through a hearing with (UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Harry Le Grande)," he said.

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